I really have nothing thoughtful to add to the Harrow the Ninth discourse. I tried to start it immediately after I finished Gideon, but it was difficult for my already over-stressed brain to focus on so I abandoned it. But I always intended to return. A couple of weeks ago a friend encouraged me to pick it up again saying, “there’s a scene that will blow your mind.” Adam was correct, there was a scene that blew my mind and I haven’t stopped thinking about it.
When I picked Harrow up again, I chose to start where I left off rather than go back to the beginning. At some point I will have to re-listen to the books because I missed a lot of detail. I understand why a lot of people didn’t like Harrow, but having soldiered through to the end, I also understand why people love it. I gave up on understanding and just went with vibes.
Here’s what I understood as spoiler free as possible. Harrow broke herself to not absorb Gideon’s soul when she became a Lyctor. She erased memories of Gideon from her brain and is replaying her time at Canaan House with Ortus as her cavalier rather than Gideon. Meanwhile Harrow and Ianthe are the new baby Lyctors and are being trained (sort of?) by John Gaius, the Emperor Undying, Mercymorn, the Saint of Joy (ha!), and Augustine, the Saint of Patience. While Ortus, the Saint of Duty, is trying to kill Harrow. There is The Body who appears only to Harrow, and the body of Cytherea the First. John tells Harrow to get a hobby, so she takes up cooking, which seems unlikely for Harrow.
As soon as Harrow took up a cooking, the plot also started to cook. Basically, this book is a soup with either the best or worst dad joke ever. The first two thirds of the book are prepping the ingredients and layering the flavors. And like soup, it’s going to be better the next day when I reread it and see how the ingredients work together.
Image from alizabug