ARC Review: NONA THE NINTH (The Locked Tomb #3) by Tamsyn Muir (2022)

Genre: Adult Science Fantasy
Year Release: September 13th, 2022
Buy Links: Bookshop | Unabridged Books | Audiobook

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an eARC from NetGalley
Content warning: gore, references to main character deaths, dissociation, vomiting, gun violence, medical experimentation

The third entry of The Locked Tomb trilogy stars a character born literally six months before the beginning of the book, the eponymous Nona. Innocent and bursting with good will and curiosity, she’s a teacher’s aid at a school in a city on the verge of war against “zombies.” A birthday party gets ruined as a certain tomb is about to opened, and it’s a race against time and necromancy to figure out who, exactly, Nona is.

An entry into the quartet most interested in telling a story than stringing together memes and tropes, Nona by far is my favorite, because of the focus on characterization and literal ticking clock pacing. And the dog does not die (you’re welcome).

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ARC Review: HARROW THE NINTH (The Locked Tomb #2) by Tamsyn Muir (2020)

Rating: 5/5 stars
Genre: Adult Dark Science Fantasy
Year Release: August 2020
Source: NetGalley eARC
Buy links: Bookshop | Unabridged Books | Barnes and Noble

Read my NetGalley eARC
Content warnings: Suicidal ideation, bones, murder, cannibalism, blood

It is very hard to summarize this book without spoiling the ending of Gideon the Ninth. But it picks up right where that left off and goes into the adventures of Harrowhark the Ninth as she starts service as a Lyctor to the Emperor of the Nine Houses.

This book examines trauma through magic and science fiction in a way that I’ve never seen in any other kind of book. It is what grimdark wishes it could be. The prose shifts between third and second, never flinching from the grief of the and pain of the end of Gideon. There is sincerity, tough love, and the grossness you’d expect from necromancy (soup is cancelled), but there is a joke and a colorful insult thrown in from time to time to get some relief as part of that processing. There is a deep sense of loss of control, being lost, and constant violence, but the empathy radiates off the page. Such a unique reading experience, and then there is another perspective shift that had my heart and mouth screaming.

A surreal sequel that maintains the tone and aesthetic of the first book, definitely pick up Harrow if you loved Gideon. Give me Alecto, now.


Review: MIDDLEGAME by Seanan McGuire (2019)

Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: Adult Science Fantasy
Year Release: 2019
Source: Library audiobook

Listened to the audiobook

Trigger warnings: suicide, death of family, blood

Twins Roger and Dodger are two sides of the same cosmic coin separated by the continental United States. Roger of New England masters language with relative ease, while his sister Dodger is a math prodigy.

The structure of this novel, though not linear, was frightening in how easy it was to follow. It bounces between past, future, alt!past, alt!future, and the interstitial space where Reed and Leigh plot their schemes for dominating time and reality. Never once did I find myself confused. McGuire has such a precision in her language that this book simultaneous felt like a fairy tale, something contemporary, and a thriller. Absolutely engaging and mind-blowing.

The characterization of the twins is absolutely fantastic. What I think shines brightest here is the depiction of Dodger’s math skills by showing the reader enough of that mastery without going into the specifics of the mathematics itself. It was surprisingly accessible, and even more mind-blowing when you see how it fits into the ending.

Part Frankenstein, some cosmic fuckery, definitely read this book if you’re wondering how any pair of the Wayward Children would turn out as young adults.