Nona The Ninth Review: Tamsyn Muir’s Latest Locked Tomb Entry Thrills

I never fully understood the plot of one of the books in Tamsyn Muir’s brave, gory, glorious Locked Tomb series. At this point, with the third part Nona the Ninth in my hands and its predecessors Gideon the Ninth and Harrow the Ninth on my shelves, I’ve decided not to try. Instead, I peacefully wade into each part knowing I’m going to experience some lesbian necromancers in space, or else I exist in a blissful state of “head blank, just vibes.”
remarkable vibes from Nona the Ninth: Dogs are good. sword fights. A 13 year old named Hot Sauce who is the best cool girl gang leader you can expect on any planet. Necromantic battles. A found family tries to get their sweet problem child to eat. Zombie armies. More Catholicism than you might expect! Two lesbian princes face each other. Nuclear war.
When the Locked Tomb series ended, our protagonists Gideon (sweet jock) and Harrow (goth princess) were in different places, both in ambiguous states of vibrancy. Harrow was deep in the purgatory space known as the river. Gideon, who died at the end of Book One, possessed Harrow’s body. As Harrow the Ninth ended, the body appeared to be in the hands of tough swordsman and certified babe Camilla Hect, and it was unclear who animated it.
Of Nona the Ninth, we meet the entity that currently resides in Harrow’s body. Her name is Nona, she has no memories and it is unclear if she is Harrow, Gideon, a combination of both, or someone else entirely.
(Yes, this really means Muir has written a second Locked Tomb book in a row where the main character’s memories have been altered or erased in some way. Go with it!)

What we do know for sure is that Nona, whose head we have for most of this novel, is a charmer. Six months after the end of eg, she considers herself six months old. She is complacently vain, childishly impulsive and passionately devoted to her adult guardians, her school friends and dogs in equal measure. She loves ass jokes, finds both swords and bones boring, crushes madly on any particularly strong woman she crosses paths with, and can understand any language. Oh, and something mysterious and horrific happens when she gets angry.
Nona lives on an unnamed planet that doesn’t seem to be part of the necromantic realm we’ve explored for the rest of this series. This planet exists in a much simpler universe, much closer to our contemporary world than the empire’s gothic fantasy: a place of fast food restaurants and office buildings and absolutely no magic. There, Nona continues with her daily life of going to school and compiling the guest list for her upcoming one-year birthday party. (She wants him on the beach and wants every dog ​​of her acquaintance with it, especially the six-legged ones. Muir has given me her blessing to assure you that the dog is alive.) Dark machinations can be seen in the background underway, which Nona seems only half aware of.
The refugees who come to this planet regard necromancers as zombies and live in fear of falling under zombie control. This political atmosphere makes things difficult for Nona’s guardians, who include several well-known names and faces from the realm – although said names and faces don’t always go together like we’re used to. Sharing the body of this universe is only getting more complicated! However, all the guards are warily working with The Blood of Eden, the militant anti-imperialist group we heard about in the previous two installments.

What happens in the realm as Nona writes her guest list and her guardians help plan its destruction? Finally, we get a look in that direction. But before that, most of our glimpses into the realm look not at its present, but at its origin. In periodic interstitials, we see John the Emperor-God in an apocalyptic dreamscape with Harrow, who tells her the story of how he changed from just a man named John to a man named John with divine powers.
Here we learn more about the key to Muir’s mythology and the metaphor that lives at its heart. That metaphor is both more Catholic and topical than the rest of this series shows, and it comes together with such tenderness and urgency that, like a lyctor in a frenzy, it could tear your heart right out of you.
Then Nona, who urgently demands to express her love to everyone she has ever met, will bring your heart back to life.
Nona the Ninth is a deceptive book: his sweetness hides teeth, and then his teeth hide more sweetness. As long as you go in without expecting fancy things like being able to understand every detail of the action in a literal and straight forward way it will treat you well.

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