Aug 12
2020

Shelf Awareness on Harrow the Ninth

Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

“Harrow the Ninth has a tough act to follow in 2019’s deranged, electrifyingly fun Gideon the Ninth, but the middle chapter in Tamsyn Muir’s Locked Tomb Trilogy is every bit as wild and weird as its delightful predecessor. Following the events of the first book, Muir shifts protagonists to follow the necromancer Harrowhark as she joins a cohort dedicated to assisting the godlike Emperor in fighting strange cosmic entities.

Muir has not lost her penchant for throwing readers in the deep end, and some incomprehension is to be expected on their part. In fact, Harrow the Ninth is purposefully disorienting even, or perhaps especially, for diehard fans of the first book: the novel bounces back and forth in time, retelling events from the first book with noticeable differences that grow more glaring over time. Whereas Gideon the Ninth welded the structure of a locked-room mystery to its saga of necromancers and their sword-wielding escorts in an ancient, crumbling space-tomb, Harrow the Ninth plunges confidently into a mind-bending puzzle box structure. There is plenty of satisfaction in piecing things together, but it’s not just an exercise in cleverness: Muir has much to say about denial and the dangers of suppressing grief, building to an emotional conclusion that will melt the hardest of hearts.

Harrow is very different from Gideon, more interior and decidedly less raunchy. That does not mean the series has suddenly become strait-laced or lost any of Muir’s sardonic wit. Muir likes to puncture her own odd and highly detailed worldbuilding with a quip, as when one character explains: “A stele is eight feet tall, covered in the dead languages by special Fifth adepts, and continually bathed in oxygenated blood…. The type of thing where, if there is one on board, you say quite soon, ‘Oh, look, a stele!’ ” Plus, Muir continues her streak of best-in-class fight scenes, pushing the limits of her necromantic imagination to disgusting new heights.

Harrow the Ninth carries over all the strengths of its predecessor, in other words, including the verbal sparring and ever-entertaining insults: “you bursting organ, you wretched, self-regarding hypochondriac and half-fermented corpse with the nails still on.” Harrow the Ninth delves even deeper into the vulnerabilities of Muir’s damaged characters, whose posturing can’t hide their hang-ups and death wishes and terrible regrets. Few books can be this funny, sad and romantic all at the same time. ” — Shelf Awareness

Aug 6
2020

Publishers Weekly starred review for Machine

Machine: A White Space Novel by Elizabeth Bear

“Hugo Award winner Bear’s spectacularly smart space opera, set in the same universe as 2018’s Ancestral Night, begins with the dispatch of an ambulance ship from the immense medical habitat Core General to respond to a distress signal. The signal originates from a vessel docked aboard a lost generation ship that was launched from Earth centuries earlier, before humans overcame their self-destructive impulses and joined a multi-race, interstellar civilization called the Synarche. When rescue specialist Dr. Brookllyn Jens arrives on the scene, she finds the crew of the generation ship sealed in cryogenic containers, with only Helen, an anxious and rather threatening android, conscious. Meanwhile, the crew of the docked ship that sent out the distress signal in the first place are all comatose and the huge machine they have on board looks suspiciously like a combat walker. In addition to untangling the history of these ships, Jens is deputized to investigate increasingly destructive incidents of sabotage at Core General, leading her to question her faith in the hospital’s ideals. Bear’s vivid tale, narrated by the wry, almost painfully self-aware Jens, bristles with inventive science and riveting action scenes. With this outstanding work, Bear proves her mastery of the space opera genre yet again.” — Publisher Weekly, Starred Review

Aug 3
2020

Gideon the Ninth is a 2020 World Fantasy Award finalist!

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir is a 2020 World Fantasy Award finalist!

Jul 31
2020

Peace Talks remains in the NYT bestsellers list for second week!

Peace Talks by Jim Butcher, the sixteenth book in The Dresden File series, remains on the New York Times fiction bestsellers lists for a second week, coming in at #9 on the hardcover list and #8 on the print & ebook combined list!

Jul 28
2020

Publishers Weekly starred review for Princess Floralinda

Princess Floralinda and the Forty-Flight Tower by Tamsyn Muir

“Muir (Gideon the Ninth) showcases her distinctive voice in this playful page-turner that flips fairy tale archetypes on their heads. A witch traps Princess Floralinda at the top of a tower, explaining “you have butter-coloured curls and eyes as blue as sapphires. The moment I saw you, I knew a tower was crucial. Witches are all slaves to instinct.” Each of the tower’s 40 floors houses a different type of monster, and the dragon guarding the ground floor is so fearsome that none of the princes coming to rescue Floralinda have been able to make it past. After the princes stop trying, Floralinda discovers the diary of the tower’s previous occupant, another princess who eventually became so despondent she jumped out the tower window to her death. Desperate to escape, Floralinda endeavors to get past the goblins on the floor below her. She succeeds only with the help of Cobweb, a fairy she captures. Together, they make their way down the tower, and along the way Floralinda learns to fight, ask questions, and think for herself—none of which a princess is “meant” to do. Told with the humor, whimsy, and innocent romance of a children’s story, this adult fairy tale is a winsome enchantment.” — Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

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