Several of my reactions upon completing this book, in no particular order:
“Do I really need to read the other Hugo finalists when this may be the best book I’ve ever read ever?”
“Oh gosh, I’d love to play in an RPG of this. I wonder what dice and stats system this would run best on…”
“You know, this would be really perfect for a TV series. Gory but perfect. Don’t let those GoT hacks anywhere near it tho.”
Reader, this may not be the perfect book for you, but it was the perfect book for me. I mean, what’s not to like about the standard description of Gideon The Ninth, calling it a tale of lesbian necromancers in outer space? Reading the first few chapters, where we’re introduced to Gideon and her fraught relationships with the other inhabitants of the Ninth House, was already divertingly unique, but then Gideon and her frenemy Harrow answer the Emperor’s call for necromancers and their cavaliers to attempt to become Lyctors, His hallowed right hands, and the book becomes a manor house murder mystery, my God, Tamsyn Muir, are you writing for me?! This novel is And There There Were None meets Warhammer 40k meets splatterpunk with a heroine who loves her puns and That’s What She Said jokes as much as I do, and a really clever indistinguishable-from-magic system, and this book is so smart and so laugh-out-loud funny and so heartbreakingly sad that I had several crying jags while reading it. Yes, there are parts where it’s obvious an editor* leaned over and reminded Ms Muir that readers don’t live inside her head and probably need a bit more explaining on the page than she’d set down already, but they only made me want to live in Ms Muir’s head which is both really creepy and really fucking apropos — read the book to find out why! I am worn out after reading this and am using far, far too many italics when reviewing it, but it is so much the best book I’ve ever read ever, thoroughly engaging my heart and my head and my funny bone. I’m probably going to pre-order the sequel, Harrow The Ninth, which is something I’ve only ever done for two other books before in my entire lifetime. Ooh, should I get a hard copy?
Tl;dr Absolutely mind-blowing amalgam of the best of different genres with a refreshingly contemporary heroine. I love.
*Carl Engle-Laird, whose work I will be following hard from now on!