The Song Rising is the hotly anticipated third book in the bestselling Bone Season series – a ground-breaking, dystopian fantasy of extraordinary imagination by Samantha Shannon. Released on March 7th 2017, The Song Rising picks up several weeks after the conclusion of the events of The Mime Order – the scrimmage and Jaxon’s betrayal. You can find my reviews for The Bone Season and The Mime Order here.
Following a bloody battle against foes on every side, Paige Mahoney has risen to the dangerous position of Underqueen, ruling over London’s criminal population. But, having turned her back on Jaxon Hall and with vengeful enemies still at large, the task of stabilizing the fractured underworld has never seemed so challenging. Little does Paige know that her reign may be cut short by the introduction of Senshield, a deadly technology that spells doom for the clairvoyant community and the world as they know it . . . (Chapters.Indigo.ca)
Since I finished reading The Mime Order, I have been eagerly awaiting The Song Rising. I couldn’t wait to get back into Paige Mahoney’s story – the intrigue, the rebellion, and the romance. Samantha Shannon has been dangling all of it in front of readers for two books now, and I simply couldn’t wait to pick up a third. And readers will get exactly what they wanted – plenty of action, and plenty of betrayal and romance.
Like Gilded Cage by Vic James, which I recently reviewed, The Song Rising is one of those fantastic books that is hanging on the brink between being Young Adult Fantasy and Adult Fantasy – in the yet to be recognized genre of New Adult books (The New Adult genre being fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult, which focuses on protagonists in the 18–30 age bracket dealing with themes of life after an individual has become of legal age, and how one deals with the new beginnings of adulthood – themes such as identity, sexuality, depression, suicide, substance abuse, empowerment, loss of innocence, and fear of failure). Here, Samantha Shannon, like other authors before her, challenges the parameters of our current recognized genres by creating a book that is too mature to be considered YA, but focuses on protagonists much younger than those typically recognized in Adult literature. And the topics investigated in The Song Rising – of identity, sexuality, loss of innocence and fear of failure are critical – they recognize the struggles our new adults face today, as they leave the shelter of home, and confront the harsh light of reality for the first time, albeit in a fantastical dystopian setting. Books like The Song Rising (and its predecessors), Gilded Cage (by Vic James), and A Gathering of Shadows (by V.E. Schwab) continue to challenge the genre by presenting complex, mature topics that hit home with young adults, while (in many cases) being too mature for many teens.
Now, onto a discussion regarding the actual content/plot of The Song Rising. As I mentioned, The Song Rising picks up shortly after the events of The Mime Order – Paige has won the Scrimmage, earning the title of Mime Queen, Jaxon has revealed himself as the traitor that doomed Warden and his followers so many years ago, and the Scion is still doggedly hunting all unnaturals. So, as expected, Paige has inherited a whole heap of trouble, including a tenuous partnership with the Ranthen. That being said, the reader is immediately launched into a thrilling sequence of events as Paige, Warden, and their friends struggle to stay on step ahead of Scion’s Senshield and bring down the Rephaim, before they enslave the voyants for good.
Paige and Warden’s dance around one another for the entirety of this book is pretty infuriating, if I’m being honest. I get it – they’ve got a whole Romeo – and – Juliet – forbidden – love thing going on, but like, come on. They’re both struggling to avoid acting on their feelings, but every time they end up alone together, their inhibitions vanish into thin air for just long enough to drive the reader nuts. Every time I picture Warden desperately chasing Paige through that train station, my heart just breaks. Realistically, I know their relationship is probably doomed to end in disaster, but still, I’m rooting for them, because they are clearly perfect for one another.
The story in this one was well-paced and well written. Once again, Shannon has managed to weave a complex plot, ripe with political intrigue, espionage and betrayal, while maintaining a story that is complex enough to maintain interest while not so complex it becomes overly confusing. Each event flows seamlessly into Paige’s next move/decision, and the larger powers at play (no longer just the Rephaim, but the Scion’s military powers) are menacing and perfect in their manipulation of Paige’s decisions.
Overall, The Song Rising was another exemplary piece of work by Samantha Shannon. Shannon once again created an intriguing piece that is ripe with action, while not neglected the human aspect of the story. Her characters are engaging, heart-wrenching and unique, pulling the reader into the story as their struggles break the reader’s heart apart. After this, I can hardly wait for the next book, although I am fearful of what it will bring (4.5/5).