"Gideon the Ninth" review
Title: Gideon the Ninth
Author: Tamsyn Muir
Subgenre: Horror, Mystery
2021 Bingo squares: A-Z genre guide, Book club, Gothic, Mystery, Genre mashup
Recommend: Yes, and if you don’t like kinda-gross-and-violent battle scenes you can just skim those.
Gideon the Ninth is every genre that I don’t like - horror, locked-room murder mystery, kinda-gross-and-violent battle scenes - but told with the callously disrespectful humor of the titular Gideon’s narrative voice in such a way that I found myself captivated and, surprisingly, enjoying it. Though I will admit I skimmed a lot of the kinda-gross-and-violent battle scenes.
Gideon grew up in the House of the Ninth alongside mortal childhood enemy and powerful necromancer Harrow, and she’s trying to escape. For the eighty-seventh time. But Harrow’s here to stop Gideon and see Gideon get made Cavalier (neither of them wants this) so they can go spend tons of time together (seriously, neither of them wants this) so that Harrow can become a Lyctor to the emperor and therefore Gideon’s immortal childhood enemy and powerful necromancer (okay, Harrow wants that). And so Gideon and Harrow travel to the House of the First together.
As you may have guessed from the whole “locked-room murder mystery” thing, events don’t go exactly as according to plan when they get there. No one is allowed to leave, even when people start getting killed. And even when everyone’s a necromancer, dead bodies of heirs and their cavaliers are pretty suspicious. So Gideon and Harrow need to do something much, much, much more terrifying than figuring out who’s behind the murders - they need to work together (they really, truly do not want this).
A couple notes: While this book does take place “in space,” the majority is on a single world; you’re not going to be traveling from planet to planet, so don’t expect that (tbf you probably got this from the whole “locked room murder mystery” thing). Also, it can be treated as standalone even though it’s the first in a series of (currently) planned four novels. I read this book to fill the Gothic square in Bingo; since normally I don’t read horror I’m actually not planning to read any further in the series until it’s completed because I don’t know how horror-y further books will be (as of right now only this and Harrow the Ninth have been published). But I did thoroughly enjoy Gideon, and I’m really glad I picked it up!