Book Review: The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon

It has been 75 days since I finished reading The Mime Order and I am still not okay. This book has broken me in the best way possible, and if I dwell on that thought too much I might never read again.

The Mime Order is the second in Samantha Shannon’s outstanding Bone Season series I reviewed the first one yesterday). If you haven’t yet read The Bone Season, and spoilers bother you, then you should stop reading this review now, because spoilers for book one are going to happen here.

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The Mime Order picks up where The Bone Season left off. I love when a series does this and I can dive back into the world at the point I left it, especially when the world is a wonderful as this one.

Paige has escaped Oxford and the Bone Season and has returned home, but she is far from safe. She is Scion’s most wanted criminal; her face is on every display board. No-one in Scion can fail to know that she is The Pale Dreamer, and with the new Senshield out in action it is becoming harder for Claivoyants to avoid detection. Paige reflects a lot on her experiences from The Bone Season in this second novel; her experience there has changed her and made her examine her life in Scion more closely. After almost losing her identity (and life) in The Bone Season, she is more determined than ever before to be true to herself, and not be pushed by those around her.

This leads to much tension in her relationship with Jaxon, which is awkward for everyone. At the start of The Mime Order, Jaxon is not a nice guy. He is angry with Paige following her return from Oxford, and he’s making his feelings known by shouting and stropping and generally behaving like a giant, vicious child. Their relationship is strained since Paige’s return to Scion. She isn’t the person she was when she left. Her feelings and her priorities are different now, and she has a different perspective on Scion after what she has seen. One of the big themes in this second book is Jaxon and Paige’s relationship and whether it can recover, and this was really interesting to read. Paige realises that Jaxon isn’t the man she thought he was:

“He was capable of kindness, but he wasn’t kind. He could act like he cared, but it would always be an act.”

She reflects a lot on her history with Jaxon, the way he discovered her and encouraged her to hone her talent when others wanted her dead. She is grateful to him for the life she has now, but she has also started to acknowledge some harsh truths:

“Maybe it had taken him beating me senseless in Trafalgar Square or throttling me on the meadow before I’d got the message that Jaxon Hall was a dangerous man, and he wasn’t above hurting his own.”

He proves Paige’s feelings when he gets her into a very difficult and dangerous situation after the ruler of the Underworld is foun dead, and he uses this to bribe Paige into obedience. He is determined to control her, but Paige is not going to let that happen, whatever the consequences. New Paige is fiercely feminist and she won’t be told what to do by anyone.

Her current position with Warden is just as awkward. After the way things ended when Paige escaped, she is doubting Warden and asking the questions on all of our minds:

“Had Warden known the train would end up at Westminster in the belly of the beast? Had he betrayed me at the eleventh hour?

I. Am. Not. Okay. What exactly went down with Warden at the end of The Bone Season? I had no idea whether to like him or trust him at the start of this book.  He is in Paige’s world, and he is hurt: Paige senses this through the thread between them that formed in the first book. She is struggling with her feelings towards him:

“Warden cared if I laughed. He cared if I lived or died. He had seen me as I was, not as the world saw me.”

She still wants him, but she’s also concerned with her own identitiy, and part of Warden’s appeal is that he doesn’t try to stifle that and he wants Paige to be herself. But their worlds are against them, and the Rephs Warden brought with him do want something from Paige: they want her to reveal their story to the world, to make their existence known. Warden acknowledges that he is not “a bastion of moral goodness” like all beings, he has flaws, and his loyalties are torn between Paige and the Rephaim. The tension over whether whatever the two of them have would survive this book was a lot. Honestly, if Samantha could just give us the will they/ won’t they answer, I feel like my stress levels reading these books would halve. At least.

Other characters play a large part in this story, particularly Ivy and Cutmouth who are both very interesting and morally ambigious characters, and I loved what they brought to this story.

I also loved the scrimmage: the way the new ruler of the Underworld is chosen. The scrimmage is everything. The characters in it, the displays of power, the way that they use the Victorian language of flowers to enter themselves. It threatens to split apart the Seven Seals and to uproot Paige forever.  And, oh the twist in this part of the story! It is the most drama.

The ending is… I’m still not sure I have words for it. My notes for this part of my reading are “oh dear fuck, what are you doing to me?”, and that’s probably how you’re going to feel when you get there. There are so many levels of feelings and realisation to this ending that I was reeling for days. I still haven’t picked up The Song Rising, because when I do I will have to acknowledge that ending all over again, and I am not ready.

Read it. You might never be okay again, but it is a wonderful book to be broken by. You will love it.

 

 

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