I read the first book in this series, The Bone Season, (click for review) back in 2015, although it seems longer considering how little I can remember of it. Honestly, I just didn’t like it at all. Quite literally the only thing I recall is how difficult it was to follow – I didn’t understand the magic system or the class order, and I couldn’t have told you what was going on with the plot either. So, with a dubious heart, I picked up The Mime Order… and it’s way better. I really liked this book!
No spoilers for either The Bone Season or The Mime Order.
Plot summary: Paige Mahoney has escaped
the brutal prison camp of Sheol I, but her problems have only just
begun: many of the survivors are missing and she is the most wanted
person in London…
As Scion turns its all-seeing eye on the
dreamwalker, the mime-lords and mime-queens of the city’s gangs are
invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his
Seven Seals prepare to take centre stage, but there are bitter fault
lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around
Then the Rephaim begin crawling out from the
shadows. Paige must keep moving, from Seven Dials to Grub Street to the
secret catacombs of Camden, until the fate of the underworld can be
I skimmed the Recaptain summary for The Bone Season before I even opened The Mime Order, as I knew I wouldn’t have had a cat’s chance without it. There were no problems with their summary (honestly, that website is a Godsend) but it still didn’t help all that much, so I just got cracking. To my surprise, The Mime Order is much, much easier to follow. I’m not sure if it’s because all the world-building had been gotten out of the way in the first book (honestly, it was like a textbook at times) or if Samantha Shannon has simply learned from previous mistakes, but I didn’t actually have much problem following the plot at all.
The world and magic system are still a bit confusing -the photo to the left details the voyant classification system and the many, many different terms are just casually thrown into the prose. However, unlike in The Bone Season, it’s perfectly easy to follow the plot without understanding what a Tasseographer does, for example. I still don’t know and the chart doesn’t explain but hey, apparently that’s fine.
It’s just much more streamlined and simple than the previous book and I found myself drawn into the plot. It’s quite a political story and it could be argued that not a lot really happens, action-wise, but it doesn’t feel like that when you’re reading. There’s a lot of sneaky maneouvering going on and, to be honest, it was really interesting.
I appreciate the uniqueness of this series now. Whilst complicated, I haven’t seen anything quite like this magic system before and I love the carnival-esque, gothic glory of the scrimmage and the voyant council. The heads of the rival gangs are magnificent, with different styles of villany and I’d happily read spin-off books about them all. I’d actually like to have learned more about Eliza about the spirit-painting (or whatever fancy name it’s called) and the function of the other Seven Seals, as we didn’t get to spend much time with them in the first book. There’s a few twists at the end, some of which I saw coming but others which were really well planned.
If The Mime Order has one fault, it’s probably Paige herself. Don’t get me wrong, she’s fine. Not annoying or whiny, or overly lovesick. The problem is that she’s very naive and a bit sulky, and her relationships with other people aren’t really explained. Her attitude towards Jaxon has changed suddenly, but she just seems a bit standoffish and ungrateful for no reason. It’s not a massive flaw and it didn’t stop me enjoying the book, but the lack of explanation did stand out on one or two occasions.
I actually purchased the third book, The Song Rising, before I’d even finished this one, which is an action I wouldn’t have thought likely. The Mime Order finishes in such a dramatic, interesting way, however, that I just have to see how the story progresses. Now that I’ve read the second book, I would actually recommend getting hold of The Bone Season and starting this series.