Harrow the Ninth [book review]

After rushing through the fabulous Gideon the Ninth over a weekend, I attacked the second volume of the Locked Tomb trilogy, Harrow the Ninth, with much enthusiasm! But then very quickly hit a (tomb) wall as the story did not seem to make much sense, although I remembered quite vividly (or sepulchrally!) the previous volume and this one involved some of the earlier characters plus some, including God (also called John). The character seemed to change radically from one chapter to the next and sounded mostly insane. While the writing style was great and kept a tiny fraction of the earlier, I kept plodding on a few pages at a time, until the Season break, when I spent a day in front of the fireplace and finished the volume in one go. As it started making some sense after circa page 400…. This is such a weird book, even when considering the unusual mix of necromancers and space opera, horror novel and thriller, teenage love and immortal lust, dealing with trauma and holding bone magic, having tea and biscuit with God John and living full time with a ghost! The main character Harrow or Harry appears to be insane and the writing is trying to reflect this impression while making her definitely compelling and attractive.

“It is wickedly challenging to read, deliberately impossible to comprehend in full and, frankly, I still feel like I only got about 80% of what actually happened. But there’s just something so gorgeously Baroque about it all.”

Some readers complained that they understood less than 80% of the book, but I am rather leaning towards 30%. And still I find the book quite compelling, if less funny than the first volume. )And too much of a space opera.) I may have to read it anew, though. Even with the help of this great NPR review.

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