The hype said that Samantha Shannon had received a six figure advance for the first three books in a seven book series and had already sold the film rights to book one: "The Bone Season".
What the hype didn't prepare me for was a rich, complex book filled with original ideas, vivid characters, powerful emotions, gritty realism and page-turning action.
Shannon's alternative future Britain is fully thought through and skilfully evoked. She weaves her tale from a deep understanding of the politics of hatred and fear and the fundamental evil of slavery and brightens it with new ideas on the nature of magic.
What makes the book truly exceptional is the character of Paige Mahoney (how nice it was to hear this name pronounced the Irish way for once): brave, dangerous, more than a little broken but fundamentally good. She is easy to care about and root for. Her way of seeing the world is humane without being in the least bit soft. Her bravery comes from a refusal to submit to fear or to be treated as anything less than human. Even when everything has been taken from her, she holds on to the power that comes from knowing what she values and what she is prepared to do to protect it.
The relationship between Paige and Warden, her "keeper" is rich, complex and credible, exploring the boundaries or trust and otherness, suspicion and attraction, power and weakness.
Although it is book one in the Scion series,"The Bone Season" is a full novel and not just an instalment in a story.
This is one of the best speculative fiction books I've read in a long time. That it was début novel from a young author fills me with pleasure. I look forward to reading all of her books as they come out over the next several years.