“Unexpectedly, this did not kill her; and what did not kill her made her curious.”Tamsyn Muir
Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
Published by Tor.com, 2020
Genre: Fantasy, sci-fi
Re-readability: We probably won’t revisit this one, but we’ll keep it on our shelf!
Rating: Pete’s: 4 out of 5 stars; Indiana’s:
Pete: For reasons we can’t explain without some serious spoilers, this book was not quite what we expected after the events of Gideon the Ninth. There are a few things that seemed inexplicably missing from the plot at first—and while we enjoyed the mystery, it was pretty jarring.
Indiana: The first book’s plot was complex, though I felt like I followed it pretty well. But with Harrow the Ninth I questioned my understanding of the plot nearly the entire time, though less so in the last 100 pages or so. Considering the book is just over 500 . . . that’s a long time to question!
Pete: It’s definitely intentional, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t frustrating. There’s only so much we can say about the mystery of the book, though. Overall, I enjoyed seeing things from Harrow’s perspective. A change of protagonists isn’t easy to pull off, but it works well here. While I missed the bombastic, carefree style of Gideon’s narration, Harrow’s no-nonsense, clinical style was fun as well.
Indiana: I did enjoy the flashbacks that we got from Harrow’s childhood, chilling though they were. Getting a better understanding of her parents’ death and of her birth definitely helped explain her motivations. While it was a more challenging read than the first one, I would say that Muir did an excellent job of putting readers once again into this uniquely macabre world, where necromancy is commonplace.
Pete: Aside from the Big Mystery™, I did struggle with visualizing the Mithraeum and other settings. The whole sci-fi-but-fantasy atmosphere is at times hard for me to see in my mind’s eye—and this is pretty important to my reading style. But it wasn’t enough to keep me from enjoying this experimental sequel to one of my favorite books of last year.
Indiana: Same here. Looking forward to Alecto the Ninth next year!
Who else has read this follow-up? What did you think?
I think Harrow’s better as a re-read, tbh, because the first time you are a) mega confused and b) trying rush ahead to see if there’s hope of getting Gideon back. It’s sort of a double-edged sword because it also puts the reader in a similar headspace as Harrow while reinforcing a sort of grief and longing in Gideon’s complete absence that wouldn’t be achieved by simply having Harrow mope around.