512 pages | Tor | Sci-Fi/Fantasy | Release Date: 08/04/2020
Harrow The Ninth dives back into the dark futuristic world of Gideon The Ninth as Harrow begins her journey to Lyctorhood. Not all is what it seems and Harrow learns some secrets refuse to die. Muir brings her signature blend of cerebral horror, fantasy, and gore with a side of (purposefully) obnoxious humor that will keep dedicated readers wondering …what’s going on? How? Who is that? Wait…what?
Hats off to readers who only just read the print version of this series because without the combination of print book and Moira Quirk’s top-notch narration there is no way I’d make it through this series. I truly feel like the audiobook is essential to get a feel for the strange names and off-beat dialogue. Everyone (I mean everyone) in this book is a sardonic wise-cracking smartass and that doesn’t always come across in print.
Quirk must seriously get exhausted when she is recording because her narration captures every emotion thrown at Harrow as she struggles to find her place among the other Lyctors and learns to fight resurrection beast. For the first time in her life Harrow isn’t the smartest in the room but she remains overconfident and unapologetic in a way that I think is refreshing for female charters. Quirk emulates this with a haughty posh British accent.
It is very obvious to me that Muir loves this extremely detailed world she’s created. The magic system is inventive and intricate. She writes vivid action sequences and pushes the idea of Necromancy to its limits. The clever way Harrow uses bones and flesh to fight was something I had never encountered before. With that said this book is complex. Muir doesn’t spoon-feed or explain anything to readers at all. Like, you might as well not read the first chapter cause it won’t make sense until you finish the book.
I read the first book knowing nothing about this book or the author, but I now know that Muir is from New Zealand and (being a sheltered American) I realized part of my confusion with the first book was not picking up New Zealand slang and just assuming it was part of the world-building (bicckie ? flog (to sell) Legged it ?)
Speaking of slang I picked up on the punchy pop culture reference more in this book than I did on the first one. Based on reviews I’ve read for this series this is a total Your Mileage May Vary. The references feel anarchistic and inconsistent with the world but I think it’s supposed to be. I think it’s a joke for the readers.
Overall I like this book for how odd it is and how dedicated Muir is to her world-building and characters but I think I’d have a hard to recommending this series to anyone because of how complex it is. For me, the pull is Moira Quirk’s narration. She needs to get an award for this. I think it’s worth noting that this is a major sci-fi fantasy series with a big marketing push (it has an Illumicrate edition) by a female author with evocative complex sapphic main characters in a genre that is so male-heavy. Hopefully, this will open the doors for more like it.
Goodreads says the next book comes out in 2022? The first two books only came out a little under a year apart.
1/2 of the blogging duo at Books and Sensibility, I have been blogging about and reviewing books since 2011. I read any and every genre, here on the blog I mostly review Fantasy, Adult Fiction, and Young Adult with a focus on audiobooks.