If you haven’t read “Gideon the Ninth” then why are you even reading this review for “Harrow the Ninth”? Stop right now and get reading. Then come back and read my reviews.
“Harrow” begins almost immediately from where “Gideon” left off. Because the ending of “Gideon” was somewhat blurry, so too is the beginning of “Harrow”. We figure out pretty quickly that something has happened there is not only a timeline jump that we are dealing with, there’s also alternate realities. Oh, and let’s not forget that there’s an unknown persons narrating the story to Harrow (aka 2nd person narration). Several of these elements are not my favorites, thus it took me quite awhile to get into the book.
A stylistic element that I’m learning about Tamsyn Muir, the author, is that she doesn’t build the world for the reader; she throws you right into the world and lets you figure out how things work. This confused me at first in “Gideon” so I thought I’d be more acquainted with the world in “Harrow”. Alas, dear reader, I was wrong. It didn’t take me as long to figure out the world but it did take me awhile to get into the book. There’s SOOOO many questions and mysteries going on that I felt lost. I finally had to ask someone whether it was me or whether it was intentionally supposed to be like that. Luckily it’s the latter.
This is my big critique of the book. There’s a lot of chaos as far as timeline, reality, and who’s who. For a 500 page book it wasn’t until 300-400 that things start to come together. For me, that’s too late for catharsis. I’m sure others like the suspense but after awhile I was exhausted. I just wanted to know what was happening. Once things started falling into place, I found myself loving the “Harrow” as much as I did “Gideon”. There’s still an ambiguous ending that leads us into the third book. So maybe once that comes out I’ll read them all as a set.
I still recommend this book but you’re going to have to work for the payoff.