This pandemic period, I did a great thing for my happiness: I read Gideon the Ninth. I’m going to eschew a plot description/blurb here and just say what everyone else has been saying: lesbian necromancers in space. Need a little more? Fine. Gideon is not a necromancer (but she is into girls). She hits things with swords so she’s recruited (unwillingly) to go to a big possibly haunted space castle/research facility with her worst enemy, her planet’s only surviving necromancer (who is into bones).
I fell pretty much instantly in love. The voice is so fresh, so fun, so unique, so very Gideon. It’s a weird and delightful mix of fantasy and sci-fi. Gideon may not be the brightest, but she is the best (at least at Dad jokes). It’s light on the lesbian (romance and sex in general isn’t a big element of the story, but teenage crushes are present) but very heavy on the necromancy. The world is just fantastic, the hints of how this far-future society maps onto our world (each of the planets is a “House” that specializes in a different type of necromancy). But the best part is the characters, who are all utterly bonkers in their own wonderful ways. My absolute FAV is Magnus the Fifth: dad-joke extraordinaire, 35-year-old-among-teens, happily married to his necromancer academic wife. Though I also really love the dream team of brains and brawn, Palamedes Sextus and Camilla Hect (Sixth House, unsurprisingly from their names).
Believe the hype. This is the book I’ve been raving about to people, and I’m shocked if it won’t rank #1 on my year-end list. Unless the sequel, Harrow the Ninth, unseats it, which is possible (review of Harrow forthcoming once I sort out my feelings and thoughts about this equally amazing yet totally different book). It’s definitely not a light read (necromancy, bones, lots of death) and there’s a lot of trying to figure out what the heck is going on, but it is just such a wild trip. And so goddamn fun, making it the perfect book for this messed-up time.
I actually wanted a re-read after I read Harrow, so I listened to the audiobook version… and oh-em-gee, I cannot recommend it enough. The narrator, Moira Quirk, is possibly the greatest narrator I’ve heard yet. She does wonderfully unique voices that never get awkward: her Harrow is so perfect for the character, her terrible teens are amazing, and every one of her Third House voices makes me laugh. Especially Naberius. Or especially Ianthe?! I don’t know; they’re all fabulous. Bring some joy into your life and listen to the audiobook (maybe after reading the book if you find yourself getting a bit lost with all the names and background).