“𝐁𝐮𝐭 𝐆𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐨𝐧 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐞𝐱𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐩𝐨𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐟𝐮𝐥 𝐞𝐦𝐨𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧: 𝐛𝐞𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐬𝐢𝐜𝐤 𝐨𝐟 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲𝐨𝐧𝐞’𝐬 𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐭.” —Tamsyn Muir
[A quick note: This series has been on my radar for YEARS. My sister recommended it a while back, and all but scolded me for not having read it. When Illumicrate announced its special editions, I RAN to snatch them up. And of course, having a set of SEs is always motivating. So I picked up the audio book for Gideon in October, wanting a spooky-ish Halloween read. I mean, hello, there’s skeletons on the cover. Well, I hate to say this didn’t feel very Halloween-esk. It’s much more just a sci-fi read with necromancy, but it didn’t really feel like something seasonal. That was my bad, for having that expectation. But, can we take a minute to admire the beauty of this set?? Gorgeous!]
In need of an immortal necromancer, the emperor invites the heirs of each house to a deadly competition of wits. The Reverend Daughter Harrowhark, heir to the Ninth House, needs a swordswoman to compete, and Gideon is it. Together, they take on the other houses in a deadly game, one there won’t be any coming back from.
This book takes the cake for snarky heroine of the century! Every line out of Gideon’s mouth was gold. I was cackling with glee from the very first chapter. Pair that with excellent prose, a unique setting, and tons of intrigue, and you’ve got yourself a different sort of read. I can’t say I’ve ever read anything quite like this.
Side note: I listened to the audiobook and the narrator was AMAZING. I do want to go back and reread this in physical form. Anytime I’ll reread a book, that’s a good sign that it was a fantastic read!
I do have a few mixed feelings about the beginning half of the story. I wasn’t quite certain what to make of it. The reader is thrust into the world, and the world building isn’t really explained. It felt like a sink-or-swim situation. Now that I’ve read the first book, I’d enjoy it wayyyyy more going back and reading it again. I also had trouble with the plot, initially. I struggled with understanding the story’s point. Why are we here? What is actually going on? Where is this story leading?
*cue the short-lived confusion*
I’ll tell you right now, if Gideon’s character hadn’t been half as amazing, I might have DNF’d this book. But, Gideon WAS amazing. She held up the ENTIRE first half of the story for me. She is the reason I kept reading. I just couldn’t get enough of her snark! Everything else just…faded into the background and I didn’t even really care all that much.
Oh, things are happening? Cool, I’m just here for the “Gideon Show.” Seeing Gideon and Harrowhark interact was EVERYTHING.
However, once I reached the 50% mark, things started making sense. There was a lightbulb moment. I didn’t feel lost in the dark anymore. Then I found myself wrapped up in a murder mystery on an alien planet with bones and blood and all the intrigue I could hope for. When I hit the 70% mark, there came one OH SHIT moment after another. I swear to God, my jaw dropped lower and lower and lower until I couldn’t open my mouth any wider! Holy moly!
And, that ending? I was reeling. I’m not sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, I definitely need to see what happens next, but on the other, I’m a little pissed? But pissed in a good way? Is that even possible? I’m just going to sum this review up as: this was a very different, very entertaining, very dense read. And obviously I gave it 5 stars, which tells you that despite a bit of bumbling around in the beginning, this book was fantastic! 𝐌𝐘 𝐑𝐀𝐓𝐈𝐍𝐆: 𝟓/𝟓⭐️