Gideon The Ninth by Tasmyn Muir is one of the most delightful, creeptastic, intriguing and overall amazing books I have ever read.
I first heard the stirrings of buzz a few months back when social media started sharing inklings of the book’s greatness. I couldn’t figure the appeal out. A book billed as Lesbian Necromancers in space seemed like a legendary concept but not one that I could see as already gaining the beginnings of a cult following. I should preface that by saying that I’m not a horror fan and have never been, so I guess I just couldn’t see how something that seemed terrifying could inspire loyalty months before the novel’s actual release. Well, turns out I just had to read it (actually, devour it) to find out. I am now Team Gideon, Team Harrow, and will probably be gifting this book to every person I’ve ever met.
I would recommend that you go in with absolutely no expectations except that you will have an absolute hoot of a time. You will laugh, you will grimace, you will throw the book across the room, but you will come out of it having the same exact thought that everyone I know has had: this is the best freaking book you have read in a while. The term book-hangover doesn’t even explain the after-effects of what will occur when you turn the last page. I apologize in advance. My condolences for your brain. In fact, you might be better off reading this as close to the next book’s release as possible. It might save you some heartache. BUT, if, like me, you can’t wait—just prepare yourself. I just wanted to warn you.
Anyway, I should explain what this book is about without giving too much away: Gideon Nav is one of the only people in the Ninth House who doesn’t belong there. She dropped down from the sky in her mother’s space suit and became a ward of the planet full of bones and skull face-pain. When the emperor of the nine planets calls on necromancers, Gideon is press-ganged into service as her Lady’s Cavalier–the unlikeliest pairing in the entire solar system, as the Reverand Daughter, Harrowhark Nonagesimus is her mortal enemy. If the promise of freedom of the entire planet wasn’t dangled as blackmail, Gideon would be planets away with dirty magazines and a witty quip. What follows is a competition of sort in a crumbling mansion on a dead planet. Necromancers and cavaliers from eight seven other planets gather to win the Emperor’s favor, unaware of the cost of such a triumph. The twisty, horrifying, fascinating plot resembles a high-octane amusement park complete with stomach drops and moments of wide-eye exhilaration.
I really just want to key-board smash my love for this book into the review. Seriously, I’m impressed with my ability to form coherent praise when all I really want to do is just repeat something along the lines of “It’s SO GOOD,” ad nauseum.
If you Google the book, any number of favorable and rave reviews will pop up. It really is unlike any book I’ve ever read—the characters are singular, the story is exceptional and that ending is going to be legendary as infuriating. I need the next book more than I think I needed the next Harry Potter book when I was ten.
If Lesbian necromancers in space didn’t draw you in, know that all the secondary characters, ranging from Gothic teenagers to sweet talking older lovebirds make for a fantastic cast of characters. The competition bit, almost cliche in terms of fantasy novels, is reinvigorated by the mere suggestion of necromancy. Oh and the fact that there are no rules but one in the game: Don’t open a door unless you ask permission. There are keys and duels and a lot of gory descriptions of dead things. What could have been morbid and cringe-worthy turns into a really captivating beast of a novel. The back and forth struggle for best insult between Gideon and Harrow keeps readers on their toes, as you become desperate to know what made them turn to such vitriol in the first place. One could easily also get bogged down by the world-building (there’s a helpful key in the front of the book that describes everyone’s position which is a godsend) but is saved by easy reminders of positions and backgrounds. Tasmyn has a seamless way of making the most complicated clause appear like a work of writer-ly art and it’s easy to grin in impressed awe at the dialogue and the prose, including the descriptions of the First planet and various rooms built into the fortress.
If I haven’t convinced you and I hope I have, I hope you at least read a few chapters. You’ll fall hard for Gideon and the mystery of the First House and then come find me at @blrobins2 on twitter so we can shout about it forever. Go forth and enjoy, as Halloween approaches, you’re in for the perfect atmospheric read.