If you follow me anywhere on social media or if you have been following this blog for the past year, you will know that Gideon the Ninth was one of my favorite books of 2019. It’s also one of my favorite reviews I have ever written. Naturally, I was super excited for the sequel after the wild ride that was the first book. So imagine my delight when the lovely people at Tor Dot Com sent me a review copy of Harrow the Ninth and my subsequent ecstasy to learn that Harrow the Ninth is even more insane than the first book and I loved every minute of the ride.
One thing I really appreciate in my literature is authors who do not spoon-feed the story to their readers. That was one of my favorite things about Muir’s debut – she is a writer who doesn’t dumb down her readership and she just throws you into the deep end of the pool and then watches in glee as you thrash around trying to comprehend what is going on. But the water is so good, and thrashing around is so much fun that you can just pause to briefly applaud to Muir before she hits you with a club on the next page.
She takes this to a whole new level in Harrow the Ninth.
To be fair, I had no idea what was going on for 70 percent of this novel. And yet the story is so compelling and so well-written that I did not care at all. Muir creates such an intricate world and plot that I know that by the end I’ll be speechless and in awe. And I was. If you’re someone who hates being blind and confused when reading, you will not like this series. But if you can tolerate frustration, this book will grip you and it will never let you go. Tamsyn Muir made me her bitch in this second installment and I was only too happy to oblige. She is a masterful storyteller and I don’t think anyone could deny that.
Yes, this series is a masterpiece in terms of writing and structure and concept, but still, my favorite thing about it are still the characters. I loved Harrow in the first book and I loved her even more in this one. I have a deep understanding with her character and I think her growth is evident even though she is not really herself in this book (no spoilers!). I just loved seeing how much the events and relationships she made in the first book impacted her character, and how different she was in approaching relationships in this installment as opposed to the first one. It was also really interesting to see Harrow’s perspective in contrast to how Gideon perceived her in the first book. Harrow is one of my favorite characters ever, and I really enjoyed spending the insane ride of this book with her.
Basically, Harrowhark Nonagesimus could step on me and I’d thank her.
The new characters in introduced in this novel were so interesting and I loved them! Moreover, they had such fun, compelling dynamics and I WAS OBSESSED with their banter. Mind you, they’re all completely and utterly unhinged, but that’s the beauty of it. The whole Emperor and his Lyctors group dynamic was written exceptionally well and you could totally understand how people who had lived together for ten thousand years would have such fucked up relationships.
Seeing some of the characters from the first book in this new setting was also so much fun and I was constantly surprised at how all of these different relationships played coherently together on-page. This is generally one of the most interesting group of characters I ever read about and I loved getting to spend time with each of the characters in this novel.
You know when you’re reading a book and you have to take pauses because it’s that good? You have to put the book physically down to think about how GOOD it is? That was me for the most part of reading Harrow the Ninth. Muir expands the world and the plot and the history in this novel so much and she just flips everything on its head. She says BIG SIKE on you thinking you knew anything after the first book ended and just takes you on this whirlwind. This book keeps you on your toes and constantly throws these new twists at you and I just kept thinking WHO THINKS OF THIS IN THEIR HEAD. Honestly, this was so clever and smart and I almost applauded to the book when I finished it (but there were other people in the room and I have SOME dignity left).
This is unlike anything I ever read.
And while this was definitely consistent in style with the first book, it added so many new layers to that foundation that was set in the first story, and in such new, fresh, compelling ways.
LISTEN, please go read this. If you loved the first book, you will not be disappointed by Harrow (who could ever?). This was SERIOUSLY great.
I would love to hear from you! Have you read Gideon yet and why not? Let me know in the comments!
In the meantime, happy reading
*I received an ARC of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
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