Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Shielded (Shielded, #1) by KayLynn Flanders

The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit.

Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.

Of course, some things are better left dead.


Gideon the Ninth was…uh, I don’t even know. How to describe this book? It takes place in an ambiguously far future, in an ambiguous solar system full of necromancers. The emperor of said solar system, needing some necromancers, calls them to his big spooky gothic castle on a lonely sea-scaped planet. There is one necromancer from each House (of which there are nine), and accompanying them are their cavalier primaries, aka their parabatai, aka their sworn protectors and partners in crime. In this big spooky gothic castle, the necromancers search through the secrets that will allow them to ascend to Lyctorhood, a fancy immortal-type necromancer (who are incredibly powerful).

Gideon is decidedly not the cavalier primary of Ninth House, but her excellent swordsmanship and the trickiness of Harrowhark, Ninth’s necromancer, lead to her accompanying Harrowhark (Harrow for short) to the Lyctor trials. AND SHIT GOES DOWN.

I really can’t express how big of a finger this book gives to any genre stereotypes or tropes. It’s a science fantasy (?), but also gothic, oh and also, Agatha Christie. It is laugh-out-loud funny (like, genuinely hilarious), and incredibly chilling at times. There is some pretty brutal gore one page, and on the next our lovely Gideon is ogling girls through their too-thin nightgowns. The plot is an unpredictably wild ride across planets and skeleton-filled dungeons, with a nice dash of swimming pools in between. The story doesn’t follow a typical arc, so it may come off as a bit slow in parts for some readers. I didn’t mind it at all–I enjoyed getting to know the quirky cast of characters and just soaking up the atmosphere.

The characters are the main attraction of this show. Harrow, Ninth’s necromancer, is a skeleton queen, a snarky softie, and overall a major badass (in all black. all the time). Gideon is the strong and (unwillingly) silent type, but readers, privy to her inner monologue, get to see some other sides of her. She’s equally as soft as Harrow but with a goofy sense of humor, despite her giant sword. She laughs at all manner of puns and enjoys a good old “that’s what she said” punchline. Harrow and Gideon have a lovely frenemyship with lots of death threats and the occasional awkward hug. It was interesting to see them grow together when they weren’t fantasizing of ways to kill each other.

The overall tone, like the genre, was unique and riveting. Muir’s prose consisted of lovely descriptions punctuated by abrupt and occasionally raunchy humor. I thought this was a great combination because it created a sense of that lush, gothic, deep-space atmosphere while still keeping it genuinely entertaining. Five hundred pages flew by, and I was sad to see it end.

Luckily, the sequel comes out next week! If you are looking to binge some overdramatic sword fighting and skeleton servants, now is the perfect time to pick up Gideon the Ninth.

Happy reading,

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker, Illustrated by Wendy Xu

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  • Goodreads
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  • Genre: graphic novel, supernatural (witches, werewolves, etc.)

A story of love and demons, family and witchcraft.

Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town.

One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home.

Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.

Disclaimer: I received this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The content/art of the book as I read it is not the final version.

My spoiler-free review:

So this was a super sweet little graphic novel that I genuinely enjoyed reading! The whole thing was very wholesome and vanilla, with a cozy, witchy aesthetic that makes me wish it were spooky season. The plot was satisfying, although there seemed to be a few holes (that could have been a result of me not reading closely enough, though). For a graphic novel, I think the little world was very well-developed, and I liked the witch-culture that it established. I wish there had been a bit more structure to the magic, but that’s a personal preference. 

The love-story aspect wasn’t too overwhelming, just really sweet and heartwarming. I love the diversity of the characters, too—from hearing-impaired and Chinese to non-binary and queer, there was no lack of individualism in the protagonists. I liked it because although these characters have these diverse elements as a part of their identity, it doesn’t completely define them. They are just people who happen to have a hearing impairment or be gay. It doesn’t overwhelm the rest of their personality and become their single identifying trait. 

And of course, the art!  It was drawn in such a lovely and unique style. The colors were beautiful and engaging, and the panels were well-planned and easy to read and follow. My only complaint is that I received an advance copy, so the coloring wasn’t quite finished towards the end of the book. I guess that just means I’ll be buying a hard copy when it’s released 🙂

Bonus: there are cute cats and lots of puns!

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The Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy

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  • My rating: 3.5 Stars
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  • Pages: 400
  • Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
  • Spoiler-free review

Eleven years ago, Stella and Jeanie disappeared. Only Stella came back.

Now all she wants is a summer full of cove days, friends, and her gorgeous crush – until a fresh corpse leads Stella down a path of ancient evil and secrets.

Stella believes remembering what happened to Jeanie will save her. It won’t.

She used to know better than to believe in what slinks through the shadows. Not anymore

Continue reading “The Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy”

The Fray Theory: Resonance by Nelou Keramati

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

This book utterly fascinated me. There’s quite a bit I want to discuss, so I will write a genereal, non-spoilery overview first. Following this will be a nonsensical rant containing my thoughts and questions (so basically, the good stuff ;)).

Continue reading “The Fray Theory: Resonance by Nelou Keramati”