Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
WARNING: Gideon the Ninth spoilers ahead!
Harrowhark Nonagesimus, last necromancer of the Ninth House, has been drafted by her Emperor to fight an unwinnable war. Side-by-side with a detested rival, Harrow must perfect her skills and become an angel of undeath — but her health is failing, her sword makes her nauseous, and even her mind is threatening to betray her.
Sealed in the gothic gloom of the Emperor’s Mithraeum with three unfriendly teachers, hunted by the mad ghost of a murdered planet, Harrow must confront two unwelcome questions: is somebody trying to kill her? And if they succeeded, would the universe be better off?
This book is going to be very difficult to talk about this book without spoiling it, so forgive me if this review is short and vague.
My biggest concern about this book going in was that I was worried that without reading from Gideon’s point of view I wouldn’t enjoy it as much. I mean, Gideon’s amazing voice was 1,000% of why I enjoyed the first Locked Tomb novel so much. And I was right, I didn’t enjoy Harrow quite as much. But Muir somehow still managed to deliver the feel of a locked-door mystery, which was the other 25% of what I loved about Gideon.
And I ended up becoming rather fond of Harrow. It was nice to get to know her and understand what made her so … bitchy. While I can’t claim to understand any of the magic involved with Lyctorhood (and therefore this book), getting insights into her past was fascinating.
What really kept me reading was my desperation to figure out what was going on. Without giving anything away this is hard to explain, but Harrow is written in such a way that the reader is going to be VERY confused. While I kind of loved that about Gideon, especially since it was mostly because Gideon herself couldn’t be bothered to understand anything, in Harrow I found it aggravating.
Muir’s writing (and her world-building) is, in general, so odd that I’m never fully sure I understand what’s happening in her books, especially when the climax comes around. But I didn’t get the end of Harrow at all. If someone wants to explain it to me in the comments, much appreciated. This is definitely a book I’ll have to re-read before I’ll feel I understand it well.
In the end I went ahead and gave this book four stars because of course I am going to buy book 3. But it was really more of a 4- for me. Obviously recommended for fans of Gideon the Ninth, but for everyone else READ GIDEON FIRST!