Harrow is a walking trauma ... unreliable narrator? Yeah. But in this case so utterly unreliable that she alters our memories of what came before—which, not for nothing, is a BIG swing on Muir's part, and one that she pulls off, not gracefully, but with devastating brute force ... But where Muir takes it is so deliciously bonkers, achingly, heartbreakingly twisted and purposefully broken [the] narrative barely even matters ... It is wickedly challenging to read, deliberately impossible to comprehend in full and, frankly, I still feel like I only got about 80% of what actually happened. But there's just something so gorgeously Baroque about it all. So beautifully, wildly and precariously weird that I couldn't help sliding through page after page ... none of it was clean or easy and none of it...was what I was expecting.
I had no reason to soften my expectations for Harrow the Ninth, because Muir smashes through them with seemingly-effortless, somewhat deranged intensity ... Harrow the Ninth works as an independent novel with a provocative, break-neck plot, but it also serves well as the gripping, rising-action-middle of a larger narrative ... By layering mysteries on top of mysteries on top of immediate threats of violence, all trapped within the contained space of the Mithraeum, Muir drags the reader along at a constant what next, what next? pace ... without a doubt, a powerhouse second book both for Muir and for the Locked Tomb series as a whole. Rather than crumbling under the pressure of the debut, this book doubles down on structural cleverness and total commitment to its (sexy, weird) necromantic aesthetic. I read the damn thing in almost one sitting, then read it again ... it’s gay, it’s rambunctiously violent, and it’s got a real heart beating under all of that.
... a gleeful, genre-bending romp, sliding effortlessly between different modes of horror ... relentlessly funny without ever dropping its core seriousness. Muir has once again distilled several variations on 'frenemy' to fuel a compelling cast, and the novel’s pacing is amazingly controlled given how chaotic the story is—like a building deliberately falling down ... an intricate and deceptive piece of work, refusing a straightforward approach to its outlandish story ... Muir uses this ambitious, convoluted structure, not as an end in itself, but as a sneaky way to build on the fantastic premises of her debut ... Delight is a key virtue of the novel—despite its effective horror, its grim world and gory action, Harrow is a fun, even joyful read ... an astonishing depth of feeling and a perfectly-constructed puzzle box of a plot.
The first half of Harrow the Ninth is a twisting, teeming squabble of mashed up memories and confused worldbuilding ... Where Gideon the Ninth was filled with sarcasm and bitterness that drove the narrative, Harrow the Ninth carries a deep melancholy and a distinct sense of entitlement ... Long-laid plots come into focus in the back quarter of the book and the final 150 pages are an action-packed delight. Whether the journey is worth the wait will depend upon the reader and their initial ability to connect with Harrowhark ... The ending is incredibly well planned out, sharp, and strong, and leads well into the upcoming third book. Whether readers will want to chance another character point of view change and potentially even less time with Gideon Nav, remains to be seen.
The biggest point I can make about the book Harrow the Ninth is that if you loved Gideon the Ninth you will be thrilled with this follow up to it ... Like Gideon the Ninth, this book is also a puzzle mystery, but the puzzle in this one is: what the hell is going on? Why are Harrow’s memories different from what we know happened? What actually happened between the end of Gideon the Ninth and the beginning of Harrow the Ninth to account for this weirdness? ... by the end of Harrow the Ninth, scenes coalesce into an extremely satisfying amount of dramatic irony.
I loved Harrow the Ninth, loved it with my whole heart: its lush and velvety sentences, its wicked sense of humor, its sprawling cosmic world-building, the tragic love story at the center of it all. And if you are the kind of person who loved Gideon the Ninth (lesbian necromancers in space! what’s not to like?), you’ll love Harrow too ... But although Harrow can be very funny, this book is in the end a sadder story than the warmhearted Gideon the Ninth was. Harrow the Ninth is a book about grief and guilt, about committing a terrible sin and doing everything possible to forget it ... And as the book reaches its close, there are so many vast torrents of exposition it feels as though you could drown in them. Beautifully written, character-inflected exposition, to be sure, but exposition nonetheless. And truly, I could not tell you what is happening at the end of this book for the life of me ... I always enjoy being bewildered by Muir.
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 ... 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. ... mind-boggling from start to finish, and it’s an electrifying sequel you do not want to miss.
... deranged, electrifyingly fun ... every bit as wild and weird as its delightful predecessor ... Harrow the Ninth carries over all the strengths of its predecessor, in other words, including the verbal sparring and ever-entertaining insults ... delves even deeper into the vulnerabilities of Muir's damaged characters, whose posturing can't hide their hang-ups and death wishes and terrible regrets. Few books can be this funny, sad and romantic all at the same time.
As the mystery unravels aboard the Emperor’s ghostly space station, Muir’s seamless, inventive writing brings us dreamlike, labyrinthine plots, fantastical timelines and the continuation of secrets so surreal that readers will forever question who truly holds the power in this precarious but beautiful universe ... Readers familiar with Gideon-and-Harrowhark, Harrowhark-and-Gideon will revel in the new dangers that threaten the Emperor and his Saints, all of which could only be conjured from the depths of Muir’s wild imagination ... Muir reprises her attention to numerology, mythology, classic literature and intricate, complex secrets, as well as special appearances from the spirits of cavaliers and necromancers recently and historically lost. As secrets spill like the vibrant innards of terminated cavaliers’ corpses, Harrow and the Lyctors must struggle to stay alive as the true price of the Emperor’s power comes to light—and perhaps, justice.
Muir presents a series of enigmas and revels in gory detail before bringing everything to a riveting, no-holds-barred conclusion that will leave readers both satisfied and gnashing their teeth for the finale. Fans of a blend of horror, mystery, dark humor, and the uncanny found in books like Daniel O’Malley’s The Rook...will want to start with the first Ninth House book, then devour this one.
Quirky space opera, dark fantasy, Gothic novel, and unreliable-narrator thriller combine in unusual and unpredictable ways in the second of a series ...
Harrow is nowhere near as fun a protagonist as snarky, passionate Gideon, and we soon realize that her troubles are mostly self-inflicted. Although she remains sympathetic, Harrow wanders through most of the book confused, sad, desperate, and repressed except for a secret and kind of creepy passion for the Body, a beautiful, feminine-appearing preserved corpse she glimpsed in the taboo and supposedly inaccessible Locked Tomb at her home, and whose ghostly presence seems to follow her everywhere. It’s somewhat grim going until the final fifth of the book, when the story gathers itself with thrilling speed, delivering exciting action sequences and explosive revelations ... A slow-gathering hallucinatory adventure that eventually delivers a great payoff.
The masterful second genre-bending tale in Muir’s Locked Tomb trilogy...ratchets up the horror, hijinks, and gallows humor of the series to a fever pitch ... Muir’s labyrinthine plot raises the stakes of the series as it pushes the characters to their limits, exploring their trauma and anguish while keeping intact the irreverent comedy, grisly necromantic science, and gothic sensibilities that fans expect. Ending on a heart-stopping cliffhanger sure to have readers clamoring for the next installment, this dark, bloody puzzle box of a sequel is a knockout.