ARC Review: Harrow the Ninth // An electrifying sequel you do not want to miss

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Title: Harrow the Ninth
Author: Tamsyn Muir
Series: The Locked Tomb #2
Genre/s and tags: Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Space Opera, Horror, LGBTQ+, Sapphic
Publisher: Tor.com Publishing
Publication date: August 4, 2020
Content warnings: Graphic violence, mentions of murder/death
Goodreads synopsis: 

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?

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First of all, happy release day to this brilliant book! A few months ago, I was given the chance to read and review Harrow the Ninth for The Nerd Daily! I was ecstatic of course! Gideon the Ninth was one of the best books I’ve read last year, and for that, its sequel was one of my most anticipated this 2020!

But enough of this chitchat, here’s my review of Harrow! (Don’t worry, it’s spoiler-free!) Make sure to also check out my interview with author Tamsyn Muir!

My thoughts on Harrow the Ninth

When I read Gideon the Ninth last year, I didn’t know that I would be a wreck by the end of the book. I didn’t know it would create such an impact in my emotional well-being. I didn’t know that it would be one of the best books I read in 2019. Reading its sequel, Harrow the Ninth, now is like enjoying a nice, eventful walk… and then getting hit by a bus. This brilliant, confounding, and heartstopping sequel will quench the thirst of the fans, but not without leaving a new set of mysteries to keep us hooked.

Harrow the Ninth focuses on Harrow training in the Emperor’s haunted space station to fight an impossible war. Fresh off of lyctorhood, everything should be going easy for Harrow. But the truth is that both her body and her mind are failing her. And on top of that, someone just keeps trying to kill her.

Muir’s back with the same unique writing style, if not more visceral and more atmospheric. The author describes everything in great detail and uses metaphors and other literary devices that make certain lines and moments so poetic and powerful. I also loved that we get to see the signature humour and sarcasm we first witnessed back in Gideon.

A good chunk of the book is also told in a second person, which I was both excited and hesitant towards when I found out about this because I wondered, “why second person?” and “how will the author pull it off?” But trust me when I say Muir pulled it off—she pulled it off and more. With this new perspective, the readers are given a closer and deeper look into Harrow’s backstory and her new impossible situation. Add this to the shifting timelines and mind-twisting storytelling, readers will want to keep turning the pages to know more.

The plot, of course, is as wild as Gideon. Maybe even more. We see Harrow try to move forward and make sense of being a lyctor (all the while dealing with her unreliable mind), and we see her and the other characters try to fight a new deadly threat.

It starts out simple and slow, but Muir knows how to perfectly build up plot twists and shocking moments. All throughout the book, you will find bits and pieces that will make you gasp out loud, and by the end, you’ll definitely be holding your breath. I particularly loved how the author handled revealing the twists and turns. Other times in other books, multiple revelations near the end come off as cartoonish, but here in Harrow, it’s done so elegantly and carefully. Fellow fans will be delighted that several unanswered questions from Gideon are confronted here in Harrow. At the same time, I’m sure they will be astonished to know what Muir has in store for them.

New characters are also introduced here and they definitely made the story ever so interesting. We finally get to know the Emperor and his living lyctors here, and it was particularly exciting to meet these characters as they all share a history we don’t know about yet. This adds to the mystery and the puzzle of the book. We also see more of Ianthe and witness the newfound alliance/civil friendship between her and Harrow.

I also have to commend the author for developing and focusing on Harrow’s character beautifully in this book. We get to know more of Harrow like we have never before in the first book, and as a result, I rooted for her and I felt for her.

The world-building is one of my favourite things in Gideon the Ninth, and it gets even more expansive here in Harrow. We delve into new topics and get new information on the process of lyctorhood, spirit-magic, the planets and the space they move in, the Locked Tomb, the first saints and lyctors to serve the King, and even the Emperor himself. There’s a scientific explanation for almost everything, and yet, it still feels so otherworldly.

Overall, Harrow the Ninth is mind-boggling from start to finish, and it’s an electrifying sequel you do not want to miss.


Buy Harrow the Ninth

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Anyone else excited for this book? Have you already read it? What are you looking forward to? Tell me in the comments!

*Gideon the Ninth fanart in the background of the featured image is by artist fell.hound.

(Note: This review was first published on The Nerd Daily.)

One thought on “ARC Review: Harrow the Ninth // An electrifying sequel you do not want to miss

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