Book Review: Harrow the Ninth

Muir, Tamsyn
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

Harrow the Ninth is the second book in the Locked Tomb series, and it follows a necromancer, Harrow, as she learns to become a Lyctor to God himself, the emperor of the First House. But as the teaching progresses, the century-old secrets of God and his immortal Lyctors, the intangible death monsters hell-bent on destroying them, and Harrow's own crippled psyche threaten to crush her under their weight.
The first book in this series, Gideon the Ninth, is undoubtedly both bizarre and amazing from the very first page, all the way until the last. I read this book because I adored the first one, and I have to say it is even more bizarre and amazing, but there's an emphasis on the 'bizarre' part in the beginning and an abundance of 'amazing' in the end.
For the first thing, a good chunk of this book is told in second person. For another, the beginning is very confusing, mimicking the main characters confused state. For a third, much of the book seems to contradict the first book, or itself, giving a whole new meaning to the 'unreliable narrator'. Now, at the end, this all comes together and makes perfect sense and blows your head off in a fit of epiphany. And, having read the entire book cover to cover, I applaud the author for the bold choices and tantalizing ending. But for the beginning, it may be a bit more a struggle to push through, and the brilliance of the first book is really needed to help accomplish this.
So, the book is pretty confusing, but for the most part its understandable, and it maintains the first books commitment to levity. This book is pretty funny, even though it can be heart wrenching or gory in some bits. The main character, Harrow, is both very sad and very cool, like a skinny Batman, which I really like! She's also well developed, with understandable actions and motives. The supporting cast is fleshed out well, and highly entertaining, and very sad. All of this is very good. The plot, while confusing at first, is concluded nicely, and is well paced. The worldbuilding of this book does this thing I really like, where it never really sits down and fully explains anything, but still leaves you getting the gist of everything by passing remarks and impressions and vague implications. It did this better in the first book, but since the second book had a lot more complicated necromancy stuff to explain, I'll let it slide.
All in all, this was an extremely good book, which took risks with its material and just expected all of us to push through the bizarre for the amusing and sad characters and an unknown payoff, which we all did, and which was totally worth it! Highly recommend, but read the first book first, and if you've read the first book and you're looking for a reason to keep reading, definitely do so!
Reviewer Grade: 11

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