Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
Updated: Nov 13
Publisher/date: Tor.com (June 2, 2020)
Genre: Space Opera
Series: The Locked Tomb Trilogy
Rating: T for gore and necromancy theme
"You've got two short minutes left before I punch you right in the butthole."
Usually I'll include a plot summary here, but fuck that. Because I just finished this book and I still have absolutely no effing idea what just happened. Literally, I'm not real sure.
So let's start off with the good. Slash awesome.
Tamsyn Muir has a sense of humor that I adore. It's smartass, vulgar, and includes foul language in the most imaginative ways. She knows how to make me relate to, love, or hate a character properly. After the first book I was not sure I could ever love Harrow as much as Gideon, and wondered a little at whether I'd want to read about her. But I seriously wanted to hug the little shit throughout this entire book. And I am always entertained, so while the book was long, it wasn't tedious. More like, how much of this do I need to remember that's going to pop up again later?
Now to the not so good.
This book is confusing. And the longer it goes, the more confused I get. Let's dig down into the why of that. First, names. There are multiple characters with the same name or similar names. There are two Gideons, possibly three. Ok, I possibly could figure that out, despite Tamsyn giving them multipe cute pet names instead of picking one. (Gideon the Original, Gideon Prime, etc.) But then there are two Ortus's. And there is Cytherea and Camilla. Not to mention the reappearance of all of the characters from the first book, including the dead ones (because, you know, necromancy.) And I didn't do a reread of Gideon before I started it because it really wasn't that long ago that I read it, but turns out, I should have, because I was so lost.
And the thanergy/thalergy necromancy theories were enough to make a person feel like they're reading someone's dissertation. It was a bit too much, though I am really impressed at the physiological knowledge of the author that went into writing this book. I feel like I'm a relatively smart girl, straight A's and a college degree all that jazz, but I felt like Tamsyn was way smarter than me and talking over my head. Like the book was written for only doctors, not the friendly every day reader.
There is a split timeline, which for the plot of the book was necessary. I've read many a book with this structure, and while it's always confusing, usually when the timelines finally merge I get it. It all culminates into one huge momentous crescendo that makes it all worth it. And it did here too. But despite the exorbitant length of this book, the ending was not explained enough for me to understand what the hell actually happened. There was a monologue which explained it, but frankly it was performed by a 10,000 year old insane woman and it came out that way, and it wasn't clear enough for me to see the puzzle pieces fit together.
Not to mention that this is a trilogy that I have absolutely no clue where the third book would go. Who the hell is Alecto the Ninth? Did I miss that?
So basically, if I have to wrap my feelings up all together, I kind of want to re-read the book, creating a loose timeline as I go to Sherlock Holmes what the fuck just happened. And I would, but that book was SO DAMN LONG. I mean, we get it, Harrow is insane. (Not a spoiler - you'll figure that out within the first chapter. And who wouldn't, absorbing the soul of your best frenemy?) But the entire book is written from the perspective of the insane woman, and I kind of felt a little crazy myself upon finishing. And I'm kind of confused, because while this kind of book makes total sense for a self-published title, this was published by Tor, who should have done a better job of editing the story to help Tamsyn Muir make it more understandable.
All this makes me desperately confused on how to rate this book.
5 stars for effort and knowledge
3 stars for verbosity
1 star for explaining of shit clearly - you need an outline and character list for this
4 stars for entertainment value
5 stars for character likeability
That averages out to 3.6 stars. Feels right. Will I be reading Alecto? Probably, because necromancy and Tamsyn's characters make me want to come back for more. But I'll be checking the page count first.