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Fantasy Friday: Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

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?

Amazon Link: Harrow the Ninth (The Locked Tomb #2)

Author: Tamsyn Muir

Genre: Science fantasy

Rating: 5/5 stars

This was another wild ride that upends the expectations from the first book. It’s not just because it’s told from a different perspective than the first one. It’s told in a split timeline that takes some time to get used to, as we get to see Harrow’s thoughts about what happened during the events of Gideon the Ninth, and they are… very different. In fact, so different that it took me a while to figure out what was going on. Harrow doesn’t remember Gideon at all, and all of her memories have been replaced by a completely different person.

Tonally, there is less humor (although there were still some lines that made me laugh, and witty references to contemporary pop culture). It’s more of a mindfuck. Harrow suffers from hallucinations and it’s hard to tell what’s real. But if you stick with it, the pieces start to come together.

And then it all becomes clear in a horrifying way with a gut punch. Even though I expected the emotional devastation after the first book, this one still surprised me with the depths of grief.

I loved every page of this book and I was very eager to read the next one in the series. I specifically waited to read it until right before the third book released, and it was still hard to wait.

Trigger warnings: yes. Lots of violence, sex, death, necromancy, necrophilia, etc. Someone asked me recently if these books could be considered YA/teen because the main characters are young (18ish) and I emphatically said no. The Locked Tomb series is definitely too mature for teen readers.

Who would I recommend this book to? It’s hard to say who would like the very specific niches that overlap in this book. And the first one is required reading. But if you liked the first one, be prepared for this one to be different.


I'm an author, a blogger, and a nerd. I read and write fantasy.