Nothing is as it seems in the halls of the Emperor, and the fate of the galaxy rests on one woman's shoulders. Harrowhark's health is failing, her magic refuses to cooperate, her sword makes her throw up, and even her mind threatens to betray her. What's worse, someone is trying to kill her. And she has to wonder: if they succeeded, would the universe be better off?
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.