Book Review: Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (The Locked Tomb #2)

Genre : Science Fantasy

Publisher : TorDotCom

Length : 510 pages

Format : Ebook

Rating : 4 stars

Publication Date: August 4th 2020 


She answered the Emperor’s call.

She arrived with her arts, her wits, and her only friend.

In victory, her world has turned to ash.

After rocking the cosmos with her deathly debut, Tamsyn Muir continues the story of the penumbral Ninth House in Harrow the Ninth, a mind-twisting puzzle box of mystery, murder, magic, and mayhem. Nothing is as it seems in the halls of the Emperor, and the fate of the galaxy rests on one woman’s shoulders.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, last necromancer of the Ninth House, has been drafted by her Emperor to fight an unwinnable war. Side-by-side with a detested rival, Harrow must perfect her skills and become an angel of undeath — but her health is failing, her sword makes her nauseous, and even her mind is threatening to betray her.

Sealed in the gothic gloom of the Emperor’s Mithraeum with three unfriendly teachers, hunted by the mad ghost of a murdered planet, Harrow must confront two unwelcome questions: is somebody trying to kill her? And if they succeeded, would the universe be better off?


Harrow has achieved her dream of becoming one of the Emperor’s Lyctor. However, she soon realizes that her transformation has gone wrong, she doesn’t have all her powers, she hallucinates a mysterious Body and Ianthe just gave her twenty letters that she apparently wrote to herself but has no memories of. Will she be able to fulfill her duties towards the Emperor when she can’t even trust herself?

To be honest, I almost didn’t read Harrow the Ninth. I have made it clear that I struggled a lot with Gideon the Ninth, a book that I almost DNFd three or four times because of a lack of enjoyment. The main reasons were the humor and the character of Gideon (yeah, I’m one of the few people who truly can’t stand Gideon!). However, I really like Harrow and I wanted to know what was going to happen to her after the events of the first book.

Harrow the Ninth is one hell of a confusing book, if you thought that the first book was confusing then do yourself a favor and… don’t pick up Harrow. I had a very little clue about what was going on for the first 75% of the book but I trusted Muir to pull everything together at some point and she did!

Sure, the structure of the book is unusual to say the least. It starts off as a countdown to the night of the Emperor’ murder (!!) and the timeline jumps around a lot. The present-chapters are narrated in second person (the why of this narrative choice is pretty obvious actually, I had guessed it before picking up the book) and the flashbacks directly contradict the events of the first book. However, Muir manages to tidy up the chaos in a satisfactory manner at the end and I liked how she did it! I saw a few things coming but the other twists were really cool.

It’s hard to talk about this book without spoiling it but, I really appreciated what Muir did with the characters. Harrow is slowly becoming one of my favorite characters ever even if she’s very unreliable and, by her own words, completely insane.

I also liked how Muir developed characters that weren’t fully fleshed out in the books like Ianthe and a lot of characters I can’t mention because of spoilers. One of my issues with Gideon was that, except for Gideon and Harrow, I never felt like I knew any of the other characters. In the second book, Muir introduces a few new characters (Mercymorn was so fun to read about!) and we get to know a lot more about characters from the first book.

The family drama was also exceptional, if you’re a fan of messed-up family situations in k-dramas well… this shit was dramatic on a k-drama level of dramatic! 😉 The Locked Tomb series is completely bonkers and it won’t work for everyone. In fact, it almost didn’t work for me but, after reading Harrow, I have now fully jumped on the bandwagon! I’m really excited to see what’s next in the sequels. Nona the Ninth is coming out is a few days and I have so many questions already. Who is she? Where do we go from there? I want to know! 😀

Rating: 4 out of 5.

4 thoughts on “Book Review: Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (The Locked Tomb #2)

  1. It’s a comfort to learn that you struggled with the first book in this series: I tried to read it, a couple of weeks ago, but it felt far too weird (and I love weirdness!) and confusing for my tastes, and I clearly lack your determination because it ended in DNF “bin” all too soon. But now that I’ve read your review of the sequel, I’m having second thoughts… 😉
    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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