The prequel to Tamsyn Muir’s novel “Harrow The Ninth” was a hugely successful sci-fi novel of 2019. “Gideon the Ninth” won several awards, including the Locus Award, and left even the most esteemed sci-fi authors in awe. “Gideon the Ninth” burst onto the science fiction scene with pulsating energy, cheeky yet clever humor, and a unique vision (necromancers + romance = necromance). Only to then shift to a larger portion of the story resembling a subdued Agatha Christie mystery.
“Harrow the Ninth” lacks that dynamic start but fortunately, it also lacks the occasional anemia found in its predecessor. However, in return, it is at times completely incomprehensible.
The first thought-provoking moment occurs when you realize there’s not a single mention of Gideon, the protagonist of the Locked Tomb series’ first installment. It’s as if her existence has been erased. Then, the alternating chapters of the book are written in different grammatical persons (second-person singular vs third-person singular) while each chapter has the same viewpoint character: Harrowhark Nonagesimus, the charming but troubled teenage necromancer.
To top it off, characters show up in the pink, who died in the first book.
Are you into solving puzzles? Do you have a university degree? If neither applies to you, there’s a chance that up to about 80% of this book, you’ll wish “Harrow the Ninth”, to hell. And it’s no wonder if, along the way, you come to the conclusion that either reading the book titled “Harrow the Ninth” is entirely unnecessary or its predecessor, filled with the trials of Gideon Nav.
Maybe you won’t give up on Muir’s book halfway for only two reasons. One, if you’ve already crafted a compelling closing sentence for your book review and don’t want it to go to waste. The other is the Australian author’s writing style.