Cover image from Tor.com. The figure in the middle is Gideon.
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir is an adult fantasy (and crosses into scifi) about necromancers. It's the first of the Locked Tomb Trilogy. It's a NYT and USA Today bestseller, won the Locus and Crawford awards, was a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, and other major awards, and is referenced on dozens of agents' manuscript wish lists.
Gideon is not a necromancer, in fact she’s an orphan on a planet run by people who are super religious about necromancy. Look at that cover—they paint their faces like skulls. It’s hardcore. And she’s not into it. All she wants is to escape and go join the army, since she’s an excellent fighter. The heir of the Ninth House, Harrowhark (aka Harrow) has been invited to try to be a Lyctor for the solar system’s Emperor and Gideon has to come along as her semi-body guard/semi-assistant. What’s a Lyctor? Good question. So glad you asked. Same, honestly. Anyway, all eight of the heirs to houses 2-9 (the First being the Emperor) show up and start trying to be Lyctors with absolutely no guidance on how to do that. Necromancy chaos ensues.
I liked the humor and voice of Gideon, which is a common compliment for this book. It’s very millennial. She basically quotes memes. If you're confused about what voice is in novels, read this one and you'll get it. I was also interested in solving the mystery of who-dun-it once bodies started hitting the floor (fresh bodies, anyway).
One thing I was expecting was a romance between Gideon and Harrow because a lot of people online insinuated that was the result. Maybe I’m bad at reading into things, but I didn’t get a romantic vibe between Gideon and Harrow. Sure, Gideon was clearly interested in women, but Harrow didn’t seem interested in anyone. And honestly, their relationship was too toxic for me to root for even if they had made some moves. I guess I let the internet lead me astray, so this one’s more on me than the book.
This is a book for you if you like locked room mysteries, millennial humor, necromancy, and puzzles. It’s not for you if you have a low or even moderate gore tolerance. There’s one scene near the end that I just… I had to stop eating lunch while I read that because yikes. (And I’m someone with a high tolerance for gore!) It’s also not for you if you’re looking for people to start kissing, it’s not happening here. Overall, the hype was fairly accurate on this one, and there are two more books in the series if this is your jam (Harrow the Ninth and Nona the Ninth, which comes out in September 2022).
Have you read Gideon the Ninth or Harrow the Ninth Did you get romance vibes? Help me out and tell me about it in the comments!