I started screaming within the first 60 pages. This was good screaming, mind you. Surprise-party-on-a-rollercoaster-with-Elvis-in-space screaming. Everything that I had learned and loved from Gideon the Ninth exploded in my face, leaving a cloud of gore and pure insanity- and you know what? I was into it. Big time.
If you have yet to read Gideon (WHY?!) then DO NOT READ THIS WRITE UP. Do not read anything about Harrow, do not read Gideon‘s book jacket, and do not waste any more time! Go go go!
Our Lady Harrowhawk is, well, a bit of a mess. She might be dead, might be all-powerful, might be the greatest necromancer of her generation, might be swimming in a pool of her own vomit, and may very well be out of her mind. It certainly reads like she is out of her mind; Harrow jumps about (literally) through space, time, and reality. Events from the first book are completely re-written, characters who had been ripped to shreds were up and about, the narration came from afar, and-oh yeah: people of great importance just straight-up DO NOT EXIST.
Harrow’s brain is a soupy mess, and we are along for the ride. I cannot give much more information, as I do not want to spoil this absolute knot of a novel. If I pull any thread the knot will transform and show you all of the grisly, maddening, and hilarious secrets within.
You didn’t have your original thumb and I’d touched your intestines, which is usually what, fourth date, but you were fine.
Tamsyn Muir has, once again, pulled out all of the stops and sent them flying into space. Her characters are crystalized hunks of haughty insanity, her language darts clearly from scene to scene and character to character, and her action-writing is unparalleled. Her fights, and there are many, are a bone-cracking good time. Bone-cracking may be the understatement of the year; the body horror elements of Harrow are turned up to ELEVEN, and I found myself howling in grossed-out delight. Tendons stretch, snap, and hurl javelins of bone through the air. Bone marrow is the new duct tape. Everyone is filthy, furious, and fighting. We meet a new pair of characters; two remaining Lyctors with a real Team Rocket/Jesse and James vibe, and they were a messy delight.
We get more glimpses into the far-far future of our past this time around; there are plenty of pop-culture easter eggs that burble up through the bloody foam of Harrow, but the piece that stopped me in my tracks came from an ancient folded-up note pulled from a long-dead pocket:
It is a drawing of the letter S” said the deep, solemn voice from over her shoulder, and she realized she had stopped midstride. “The letter in question is constructed from six short marks stacked vertically three by three. There are two triangles on the top and bottom. which, along with some diagonal strokes, form a calligraphic S.
THE “S”! The one that we all drew on our trapper keepers! The one that we STILL don’t entirely know where it came from! Mystery of mysteries! I laughed so hard at this I needed to take a break, run around my block, read it again, and laugh myself into oblivion. Muir jam-packed this entry with even more insanity than the last outing, and I am dying (ha!) to see what explodes out of the Locked Tomb next.