I don’t know where to begin with this book. I was unprepared in the best way possible. You see all these blurbs and quotes about lesbian necromancers in space and you think “that sounds neat”, and then you meet Gideon Nav of the Ninth House and her necromancer, Harrowhark and see them try to kill each other in like, the first two chapters and then get summoned by the Undying Emperor to earn a place at his side, and Gideon smuggles sunglasses to this undying party, and suddenly, the things I thought I knew going into this story were decimated by Gideon’s glorious biceps. I was utterly blown away by this book, and the incredible writing. Seriously, everything about this novel is goals.
I do find it funny that so much is made of the “lesbian necromancers in space” tagline because there is no real romance in this book. It’s no secret that Gideon loves the ladies, but it’s not really a focal point in anyway, it’s just… Gideon, and that’s amazing. The story isn’t about Gideon in that regard, but how much Gideon wants to forge her own path away from The Ninth House and why, and why her and Harrow are such bitter enemies starting well before this particular story begins. And while they do travel through space to get from the Ninth to the First House, this book isn’t about them being in space, either. That’s not to say I was disappointed; I wasn’t in the slightest! But we can put this down as one (two?) of the reasons why I was unprepared going into this book. That being said, this was probably one of the snarkiest, sarcastic, and most fun books I’ve ever read. The way Muir captured Gideon’s voice throughout the novel was simply perfection.
I loved Gideon’s humor, how even her hate of the Ninth House and Harrow always felt a bit playful; like Gideon will flip the bird and do a cartwheel as she struts away, kind of a deal. Gideon’s humor and unapologetically ridiculousness was a perfect contrast to Harrow’s somber dedication to her House and her cool anger. Gideon loves the thrill of mayhem, she’s a fighter and revels in it, and will make absolutely no apologies for wanting to be an action-hero-badass, but she’s also a big softie. When she cares, she cares deeply and it’s beautiful. She trusts so easily even with her trauma and it really shows the power and beauty of asking for consent, and the art and meaning of simply ASKING. The way Gideon and Harrow’s relationship evolves was stunning and I absolutely loved it. The way Muir brings the twists and reveals about the girls’ pasts and what they want for their future was so impactful. I could not possibly love Gideon more and would have given her all the dirty magazines in the world just to have Gideon Nav as my cavalier.
Of course, as I sit back and think more about the book after the euphoria of the story ebbs, as that glorious gut punch of an ending fades, it becomes easier to see some of the book’s faults. Yes, the book is dense at times and I had to reread a few paragraphs every now and again to make sure I understood everything, or didn’t miss something. Yes, sometimes the other 8 Houses got a bit hard to remember in terms of what their necromancer’s specialties were, or why they needed to do certain things or why certain Houses behaved in a certain way (being vague to avoid those spoilers, as one does). Yes, this book is disturbingly dark sometimes when showing what these necromancers are truly capable of. But the story was such a delight, it was so funny and didn’t take itself seriously even with such a morbid story-line, that I had too much fun while reading. I don’t really get book hangovers necessarily, but Gideon the Ninth has certainly made it difficult for the next book I read to capture the whole of my attention and heart the way this book has. It gets all 5 stars from me, and I am honestly so excited and nervous about the sequel that I’m not sure how long I will be able to resist coming back to this exciting, bone filled world.
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