Gideon the Ninth, the first book of Tamsyn Muir’s Locked Tomb Trilogy, is an incredible blend of styles, by turns funny, intriguing, swashbuckling, tense, horrifying, confusing, doubtless a few others I missed. It assembles a fantastic cast (albeit one that takes a little while to get to grips with), locks them into a mysterious challenge, and keeps the twists coming. Impressive enough on its own, the sequel Harrow the Ninth pulls away that rug, replaces it with an even more intricately textured rug, and leaves me half wishing I’d waited until the third of the trilogy was out it so I could jump straight in, and half grateful of the time for a good re-read (or three) because it crams in so damn much. It teeters on the brink of baffling, dealing with memory, madness, reality, then layering on the necromantic nature of its universe, but in a (generally) satisfying way; there’s (at least) one aspect that I need to particularly pay attention to second time around that I’m not sure I fully grasped. It slightly reminds me of Neal Stephenson’s Anathem or Dave Hutchinson’s Fractured Europe Sequence; very highly recommended.
(Searching back, I see I briefly mentioned the first Fractured Europe book, Europe in Autumn, then entirely failed to rave about the subsequent Europe At Midnight, Europe in Winter, and Europe at Dawn, most remiss of me, it’s a great series, also very highly recommended. And looking back, quite spooky: “The roads seemed busy this evening. Fifteen years after the last deaths from the Xian Flu and people were only just starting to reconnect with normal life. The British Isles had got away comparatively lightly from the pandemic…”)