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Reviewed by Janeesha Singh
Opening sentence
IN THE MYRIADIC YEAR OF OUR LORD—the ten thousandth year of the King Undying, the kindly Prince of Death!—Gideon Nav packed her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and she escaped from the House of the Ninth.
18-year-old Gideon, wow this character is what captured my attention. From snarky to boss lady this character is relatable on so many levels. This incredible sci-fi fantasy story revolves around Gideon, the female lead who is enslaved and attempts to escape the Ninth House which is like a cult that serves a necromantic emperor. However, when her plans to flee are stopped by Harrow, who offers Gideon freedom on certain conditions that results in a captivating battle, readers are hooked right in.

Their personalities are so much fun, and the love-hate relationship between the two gives this book so much character, making you smile and laugh along the way. A perfect example of this is when Harrow says, “I cannot conceive of a universe without you in it” to which Gideon replies: “Yes you can, it's just less great and less hot”. When reading this, I couldn’t decide if I was touched by the sweetness of Harrow's words or if I should laugh at Gideon's goofy personality. It is the perfect brew between goofy and serious.

The diversity in this book is incredible. Considering that this is my first time reading a book about LGBTQ+ relationships, it did not disappoint! However, some key notes on this book are that it does contain some triggering themes such as violence, murder, death, depression, etc. So I wouldn’t recommend it to those who may feel triggered by such topics. Apart from that, though, the book includes everything from a well described gothic/horror aesthetic to palaces in space, which shows that not only can Muir dip between genres/themes but also has an incredible imagination.

The author is creative and the action scenes are outstanding. Not only are the action scenes beautifully described, but also come up quite often, so it’s constantly keeping you hooked. The army of bones, swordplay, and dark but incredible scenes leave little to the imagination. It is so descriptive as though you are watching a movie, for me those are the best types of books!

This book is definitely one to read. At first, you won’t understand everything, but with this, you just have to trust the process. The world-building in this story is complex but definitely fascinating. The detail in this book is one thing that really hooked me! Specifically the way the author used the magic system. In this book, all magicians are necromancers, but it’s not just magic they wield, the necromancers also have an incredible perspective on science. For me, this really impressed me because science and magic are so distinct in concepts. While science is reality and magic is pure fantasy, Muir managed to merge the two together in a smooth and controlled way. But it doesn’t stop there, the ending of this book has your heart beating as if you’re running a marathon. This is the type of ending plot twist that has you gasping and sitting up to read, anxious about what’s going to happen.

Overall, I loved this book. The single thing that stands out the most is the pure originality of this book. For someone who has never read a book like this, I was pulled in. It is worth trying if you’re looking for something new to explore. It is a fast-paced book with tons of humour in its dialogue. Age-wise, I think this book is suitable for people 16+. I would encourage you to read it if you want some strong boss lady action mixed with some intense swordplay. Muir is definitely a talented author, concepts, themes, and aesthetics were beautifully intertwined. This book is such a compelling read, I would definitely read this again!

- Janeesha is 18 and is currently studying at the University of Auckland.
ISBN: 978-1250313195
Format: Hardcover
Publication: 2019
Ages: 16+
Themes: Fantasy, Young Adult, LGBTQIA+, Science Fiction