Book Review: Harrow the Ninth (The Locked Tomb, #2) by Tamsyn Muir

Book Review: Harrow the Ninth (The Locked Tomb, #2) by Tamsyn Muir

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Review copy provided by the publisher——in exchange for an honest review.

Cover illustrated by: Tommy Arnold

Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Locked Tomb (Book #2 of 3)

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Science Fantasy, Space Opera

Pages: 512 pages (Hardback)

Published: 4th August 2020 by

Harrow the Ninth was insanely confusing, and I am both annoyed and impressed at the same time.

I had an odd experience with Gideon the Ninth; in my review of it, I mentioned that I DNFed Gideon the Ninth the first time I read through it. It wasn’t until a few trusted reviewers of mine said that the second half of the book redeemed the first half so much that I decided to push myself through it one more time. And they were right, the second half of Gideon the Ninth did make me love the book, and it made me excited to read the second book in The Locked Tomb trilogy by Tamsyn Muir: Harrow the Ninth. However, I have an immensely conflicting experience with this sequel.

“You hating me always meant more than anyone else in this hot and stupid universe loving me. At least I’d had your full attention.”

Harrow the Ninth is the kind of book that will test its reader’s patience to its limit. Gideon and Harrow are characters loved by many readers, and the level of their investment for these two characters may ultimately determine whether they will be patient enough to read through 70% of deliberate confusing insanity before reaching the big payoff in the final 100 pages of the book. If you think Gideon the Ninth was already bizarre or difficult to follow, trust me when I say that it gets so much worse in Harrow the Ninth. Harrow the Ninth is purposely designed and structured to confuse the heck out of its readers; the narrative wants us to truly witness how things are seen from Harrow’s perspective. The narrative switches timelines constantly, and to make things even worse, almost all the characters behaved differently from the way they were in Gideon the Ninth, and the narrative also juggles second-person and third-person narration non-stop. In other words: almost nothing is believable, and almost everything doesn’t make any sense for the majority of the book.

It was clear that Muir refused to give any crucial hints or information to make the first 70% more accessible, and the final 30% will quite likely decide whether it’s worth all the struggle. Did this method work or not? Well, looking at the incredibly high rating and sales for this book, seems like it did for many readers; it goes to show that readers are willing to be confused for hundreds of pages if they’re in love with the story and characters already. Personally speaking, there were indeed some stunning and mind-blowing scenes in the last quarter; I assume that if you’re super invested in the characters of the series, Harrow the Ninth will overall be a very rewarding reading experience. However, I don’t think the revelations and the amazing pay-off were worth the 350 pages of struggles I forced upon myself. I’m actually not even sure whether this novel will actually works better on reread or not.

This is my final book review of 2020, and thinking about it, it’s probably the most fitting book to end this bizarre year. To sum up my thoughts on Harrow the Ninth, I’ll rate the first 70% of this book with a 1-star rating, the final 30% with a 4 stars rating. There’s a chance I might enjoy this more on reread, whether that will happen, that still remains to be seen when Alecto the Ninth comes out.

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6 thoughts on “Book Review: Harrow the Ninth (The Locked Tomb, #2) by Tamsyn Muir

  1. I never thought I would rate a book higher than you. That being said, I had the same feelings about this book. In addition, your description of “Harrow the Ninth” in the last paragraph is the most accurate description of the book, and I believe it’s why so many people read it and enjoyed it (or, it’s because it reminded them of “House of Leaves”). Let’s hope “Alecto the Ninth” is better.

    1. Yeah!! I really hope Alecto the Ninth will be better. As long that it goes back to the style of the first book I think I will. 🙂

  2. I loved this book, Petrik, but regardless I think you nailed the review. Like many, I had no clue what was happening for a long time. It was frustrating at times, but it was pulled off so well in the end that I found the journey to be with it. Definitely a kind of love-hate relationship. And this was so different from GIDEON that I am really intrigued as to where ALECTO is going to go and how it is going to be written.

    1. It was beyond frustrating to me, and I personally didn’t find the pay-off that worth all the struggle! I’m glad that you and many readers did, though!! 😀 Let’s see whether Alecto the Ninth will be written like Gideon the Ninth or even more different! 😀

  3. I totally agree, this was such a bizarre read! You have to go into it accepting that you will simply not understand anything that is happening for most of the book. I’ll probably read the final book if I can snag an ARC, otherwise….

    1. It was honesltly ridiculous… We’ll see whether I’ll read the third book or not. I probably will wait a bit for reviews this time.

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