Harrow the Ninth, the sequel to the sensational, USA today best-selling novel Gideon the Ninth, turns a galaxy inside out as one necromancer struggles to survive the wreckage of herself aboard the Emperor’s haunted space station.
She answered the Emperor’s call.
She arrived with her arts, her wits, and her only friend.
In victory, her world has turned to ash.
After rocking the cosmos with her deathly debut, Tamsyn Muir continues the story of the penumbral Ninth House in Harrow the Ninth, a mind-twisting puzzle box of mystery, murder, magic, and mayhem. Nothing is as it seems in the halls of the Emperor, and the fate of the galaxy rests on one woman’s shoulders.
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?
I am going to be upfront and say that I have been stalling writing this review. I finished Harrow five days ago, and I have been ruminating on it every since, afraid to put any words down on the page because I am afraid they will not be good enough. That I will not do the book justice. The typical writer’s quandary. I usually break out of that slump by writing the first thing that comes to mind, so here goes:
Harrow the Ninth is a great f*cking book. PERIOD.
Yeah, I was confused by the plot for a little while, as the story is quite complex (and the author does not give much away in the beginning of the story) but Tamsyn Muir is such a great writer that it was easy to stick with it. Harrow is similar to Gideon in the way it is written in so atmospherically. Tamsyn’s writing is such that once this story grabbed ahold of me it pulled me into its gravity, and I just did not want to leave. There is a lot of mystery in those first pages that needs to be unwrapped, but even as the wrapper began to come off I found it just opened up a door more secrets and enigmas. Part of the fun of this book was sorting through them all.
I was taken aback by the second person point-of-view, at first, and even moreso when it began switching from second person to first person. After a little while, though, as I continued to read I realized that this was another fragment of the mystery. Due to the changing of perspective, it felt like there are two narrators. Another piece of the puzzle to be solved, and now not only was I here for the amazing writing, but now was I here to solve this puzzle of what the hell is going on. Now the author is piling intrigue on atmosphere on even more intrigue, and the whole thing has this Inception kind of feeling where the reader is left attempting to penetrate this dark world, this captivating narrative all the way to its core. It is a wild ride that quickly goes off the tracks, and one that I hoped would never get back on straight.
As in Gideon, the character set of Harrow is another partially driving force in the story. There are many characters, some the reader is already familiar with and many which are new. Getting to learn these new people and discovering their connections to each other is a lot of fun. Tamsyn uses these characters as a medium for developing much of the history of the Nine Houses, and I really enjoyed learning about this world through their dialogue and interactions.
Harrow the Ninth is my favorite book of 2020, so far, and having already placed Gideon the Ninth on that pedestal I have no doubt The Locked Tomb Trilogy is going to be one of my favorites of all time. It probably already is, but I am reluctant to label any series in such a way when I have not yet seen the whole series play out. I have no doubt that when Alecto the Ninth, the third and final volume in the set, is released in 2021 it will not disappoint. Upon finishing Harrow, Alecto immediately became my most anticipated upcoming release. I cannot wait for it, and I honestly do not know what I am going to do with myself until then (who am I kidding, I will just read more books and let the anticipation build).
I recommend Harrow the Ninth to fans of fantasy and sci-fi and mystery and lovers of atmospheric novels and character-driven novels and really every other person alive (or not). It was an amazing read, and I cannot wait to see how Tamsyn Muir finishes the series.