The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon
‘You have risen from the ashes before. The only way to survive is to believe you always will.’
Paige Mahoney did everything in her power to rise as the Underqueen, leader of Scion London’s criminal underworld. In the process, she’s been bloodied and bruised, and she’s crossed a dozen lines– including betraying her own Mime-Lord, Jaxon, who promises revenge for Paige stealing his crown.
Now, there are enemies on all sides, and they’re closing in. Jaxon has thrown his lot in with Scion and those who pull the strings of the government, and not even the criminals are entirely pleased with their new Queen.
Worse still, Scion is developing technology to fight back against Paige’s Mime Order. In London, they’re testing Senshield, a deadly technology which can sense and locate clairvoyants like Paige. The only hope for survival is to destroy it, but not everyone is convinced Paige is right for the task.
“One day, you will have to choose between your own desires, your own darkest impulses, and what you know to be right… and it will harden you. You will understand that all of us are devils in the skins of men. You will become the monster that lives inside us all.”
It took me a while to get round to this one, but I finally caught up with the series. Much like book one, The Bone Season, I found there were moments when I was desperate to keep reading, and there were other moments that I thought lagged a little bit. I don’t think I’m much keen on books which switch location a lot, and I think I was so firmly invested in Scion London that I hit a slump when it came to exploring other parts of Britain throughout the novel. It was interesting to see, but I just wanted to stick with the Mime Order. Because, personally, this is a series which is much more riveting when it deals with the criminals and their fight against oppression, rather than the Rephaites who are secretly controlling the government and extending their control across the globe. That was kind of interesting, but nowhere near as much as the clear tensions between characters in these novels.
First of all, there’s all the drama with Jaxon. I won’t be spoilery for this book, because I know there’s quite a few people out there who have yet to read it, but I will assume anyone reading this review has/isn’t fussed about reading The Mime Order first. So yeah, there’s Jaxon out there plotting revenge, and at the end of the last book we learned he was the arch-traitor who betrayed the first Sheol I rebellion to Nashira, resulting in Warden’s scarring and punishment. It was a delicious cliff-hanger to end on, and it was enough to drag me to the bookstore to pick up this book, since I was curious to see where things would go from there. And while Jaxon is largely absent throughout The Song Rising, it’s clear his presence and strategic plotting are behind much of the attacks on Paige’s Mime Order. There’s also a new character introduced in this one, Vance, who was responsible for overthrowing the Irish rebellion Paige witnessed as a child. Vance makes for an excellent villain. She’s incredibly smart, and she thinks a lot about her actions before she commits to them. I would honestly hate to play chess against her, because she’d probably be a champion at it, but part of the book’s appeal was seeing how Paige tried to deal with this new menace, in addition to the Senshield technology which floods the streets of London and threatens all her voyant supporters.
Paige continued to be a really amazing character, and I am still in absolute awe of her tenacity and resilience in the face of so many threats. Honestly, I think there were at least three people trying to kill her per chapter [that’s a fib, but still] and I found myself mostly unable to tear myself away from the page. She’s backed up by a cast of stellar characters, including Nick, who seems like the most amazing friend ever, and Eliza. As I’ve already said, it’s those of the criminal underworld and who are working for Scion which really make the book work, more so than the talk of the Rephaite schism. There’s not a whole lot of that in The Song Rising, but there’s more mentions of it than there were in The Mime Order and I did find myself a little put off by this, since I thought it didn’t really add much more than confusion to what is a really great plot and world.
There’s not much more to talk about here, apart from to add that there’s some very interesting twists in this book, and I’m keen to find out where Samantha Shannon will take this series next. If you’re after a book which drives a furious and relentless pace, this one is for you.
8.5/10 stars from me. I still prefer The Mime Order, but this book definitely didn’t disappoint me!