The Locked Tomb Trilogy, Vol. 2: Harrow the Ninth – Tamsyn Muir
Ohhhhhhh this spooky bitch and her sepulchral ways! Harrowhark Nonagesimus is back and we all have to live with it, and I for one give thanks to the That Which Lies In The Tomb, lest it wake and show me why I should’ve been content with mere dick jokes in space. This is, as you’ll have gathered, the continuation of what began with Gideon the Ninth, and is more of the same in a good way but also completely different??? Harrow covers mmmmmmost? of the events of the first book from her perspective in a somewhat condensed fashion, but also flashes forwards and backwards (and, I am not making this up, sideways), and the majority of the book is deeply, frustratingly confusing until The Bit At The End That Makes It All Make Sense, not unlike one of Gregory McDonald’s Fletch novels or The Sixth Sense; I’m sure when Alecto the Ninth comes out (currently projected for 2022 ((haha WHAT that’s not a real year)) but who knows what Pandemic Publishing looks like) I’ll do a run-up of the first two and it will be an entirely different and probably much better experience, but we don’t award points for “It’s better the second time” round THESE parts, pardner. Take that New Game+ bullshit somewhere else, he said, knowing his own weakness and how much fun it was gonna be.
That said it’s still a great read if you’re already invested, as it’s reasonable to assume you would be if you’re reading the second entry in a trilogy, and due to the stark differences in the protagonists’ personalities and viewpoints you really do feel like you’re seeing the same world through a different set of eyes: Gideon (the person and the book) was interested in swords and dick jokes and irritating her frenemy with both and, actually, being a deeply broken, sad person inside; Harrow (book and person) is interested in worldbuilding and bone-magic and the horrifying theology underpinning the origins of humanity’s God-Emperor and the Resurrection Beasts from which he seeks to protect us at any cost and, actually, being a deeply anxious, lonely person inside. It offers 150% of your recommended daily dose of Vitamin Feels.
Ultimately it’s a…complicated, clunky experience; there are times when I literally did not understand what I was reading word-to-word and times I was very frustrated by things that gleefully told me oh, you’ll understand me…in 300 pages, when it’s far too late to do anything about it. But it’s funny as fuck, full of fascinating ideas and expertly-executed story-beats written as sharply as anything Griddle would wield or Harrow would sprout from her awful carapace, and like its predecessor forced me to enjoy several things I normally don’t, such as space opera, sci-fantasy and, in this case, a coffeeshop AU for a chapter, apparently.
Score: 8/10 None Houses With Left Grief
Slaughterhouse-Five, Or: The Children’s Crusade
I love Ryan North! And specifically his work on comics! I also love Vonnegut writ large! What could go wrong?
As it turns out, not much. Slaughterhouse-Five is a perfectly cromulent graphic adaptation of the Billy Pilgrimage through time and space. Sadly it’s one of those adaptations that’s almost too faithful, like the movies of John Dies At The End, No Country For Old Men, Odd Thomas or House of Sand and Fog; if you’re familiar with one and experience the other it’s like “Yeah, I definitely read/watched this and yeah, this is pretty much what that was like.”
It’s not an inherently bad thing! North’s writing is as sharp and touching as ever (to the extent, being an adaptation, that it’s his writing, and I say that with no disrespect) and artist Albert Monteys makes use of a low-pressure art style perfectly conducive to the wandersome, melancholy nature of the story. There’s just…not really a lot else to say about it; it’s not enough of the book that you could read it instead for class, and it’s enough of a comic to stand on its own but wouldn’t win any awards for doing so. I slammed Preorder on that bad boy because I’m an unrepentant North fanboy and Vonnegenthusiast, and I enjoyed it. You probably would too! End of review.
Score: 7.5/10 Lives Constructed From Things Found In Gift Shops
all of the gates are open, all of the charges dropped