**Spoiler Alert, Like Major Spoilers**
**You've been thoroughly warned**
Gideon The Ninth
, by Tamsyn Muir… Unlike other novels I've reviewed I honestly have no idea where to start, this work has me completely torn and emotionally confused. I want to love it (Secretly I do, hence 5 stars) but I'm conflicted. I absolutely could not put it down, (Not counting the first hundred pages but we'll touch on that later) however, on the other hand I've never had to re-read so many passages in my life… Even though I struggled with many aspects of this book the overall effect was still heartbreaking, coy, and charming. Preamble over, let's dive in!
"Your lady would stone cold eat a baby if it meant she got to lock me up indefinitely. Your lady would slather burning turds on the great-aunts if she thought it would ruin my day. Your lady is the nastiest b---"
This is a rather tame example of Gideon's early dialogue. This slightly elevated frat bro syntax really put me off early on, I found it crude and abrasive. Having finished the book I now have a much deeper understanding of the complicated relationship between Harrow and Gideon. Passages like the one above are now much more charming given the proper pretext. Unfortunately this pretext is not thoroughly fleshed out until much later in the book. Due to this I found the first hundred pages difficult to read, I was completely lost and the parts that did make any semblance of sense were dry, joyless… This could have been easily remedied if Muir would have just eased into the story instead of diving head first into the dark expanse.
I almost gave up on this book around page seventy-five, I'm glad that I didn't. As I stated previously one of my biggest grievances was the abrasive early dialogue, the turning point for me was when Harrow forced Gideon into a "Vow of Silence", once I was able to see Gideon's introspective side I began to warm up to her characterization, I began to see through the crude and into the charm, determination, and unbridled bravery (usually leading to idiotic decision making, but still bravery).
Muir created a beautiful galaxy of morbid decay and beautiful viscera. A book riddled with sorrow ebbing into humor, flowing into deep lapping waves of drama and intrigue. The plot is fairly original with only minor pacing issues. Riddled with twists, turns and mystery. Some foreshadowing was too heavy, too easy, blowing the cover of our mysterious villain too early for my taste.
Muir successfully brought the story full circle in the end, subtly weaving in themes of fate and destiny. Gideon didn't die for Harrow like the 200 other Ninth children whose souls paved the way for her conception, why? Because fate had other plans and sometimes death is all about the timing… I didn't see it coming, it pissed me off, and I found it poetically beautiful. While I will miss Gideon's point of view she will always be part of Harrow's journey, I'm excited to continue on this journey of life and death with two souls entwined in a beautiful dance of destiny across the Necromantic cosmos…
Muir is a wordsmith and though I had complaints there's a beauty to the quirky cast, dark intrigue, Agatha Christie meets VanderMeer meets a perspective belonging to Muir alone. Hands down a successful debut novel, I applaud Muir and am eager to get my hands on the encore.
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