Nona the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir // Book Review

I don’t ever know what to expect when staring a new Tamsyn Muir book. I go in empty-headed. I don’t think about Gideon. I don’t think about Harrow. I just focus all my energy into learning about Nona and hopefully at some point, Tamsyn Muir will give the cue that it’s okay to feel things and understand what’s going on. If you’re looking for the ultimate book that requires you to just trust the author to get there, then this next installment is for you.

Here’s more about Nona the Ninth

Her city is under siege.

The zombies are coming back.

And all Nona wants is a birthday party.

In many ways, Nona is like other people. She lives with her family, has a job at her local school, and loves walks on the beach and meeting new dogs. But Nona’s not like other people. Six months ago she woke up in a stranger’s body, and she’s afraid she might have to give it back.

The whole city is falling to pieces. A monstrous blue sphere hangs on the horizon, ready to tear the planet apart. Blood of Eden forces have surrounded the last Cohort facility and wait for the Emperor Undying to come calling. Their leaders want Nona to be the weapon that will save them from the Nine Houses. Nona would prefer to live an ordinary life with the people she loves, with Pyrrha and Camilla and Palamedes, but she also knows that nothing lasts forever.

And each night, Nona dreams of a woman with a skull-painted face…

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My thoughts

Like her previous books, Nona the Ninth was just a weird extension of the Locked Tomb universe Tamsyn Muir has somehow crafted. When I heard that she was going to extend the trilogy into four books, I was so surprised. I mean, give me more Gideon and Harrow, but I didn’t know what could possibly be said that couldn’t be said in the final book. I am so glad to be wrong and truthfully, Nona the Ninth made me look at the entire Locked Tomb series in a different light.

For the most part, I’ve been operating under the belief that this was a fantasy series, but after Harrow, I know it’s more like a science fiction series. Nona helped me understand that there’s much more going on than just a bunch of dirty-talking necromancers in space.

I felt like this one adds a bit more context to the bigger story that I was hoping to see, especially with the final book coming out some time soon. Nona the Ninth follows, Nona. She’s not Lyctor. She’s not a necromancer. She’s just a 19-year-old girl that somehow was born six months ago. She’s a teacher’s aide at the local school. Her best friends names are Hot Sauce, Born in the Morning, and Kevin. She loves the teacher’s dog, Noodle. For all intents and purposes, she’s just your average girl living on a planet where necromancers are shunned and human beings try to exist without the body-possessing weirdos that plague this universe.

That’s what I really loved about this book; this feels like an extension of what happened in Harrow the Ninth. Instead of being confusing, you’re starting to see the pieces of the bigger puzzle coming together and more is revealed behind the ulimate end-game: the opening of the Locked Tomb. But there’s also a playfulness to this story. Unlike the last two books, this felt more…familial as Nona lives with Camilla and Palamedes who take care of her, teach her things, and don’t mention anything to her that contributes to the bigger picture (of course). She’s more excited about her birthday party than the strange dreams she has.

Starting this book with an open mind about what could possibly happened really benefited me. While I really wish I reread the first two books, I knew that it might also hinder my perception and make me want to see a familiar face or two throughout the text. It wasn’t as difficult to follow. It still has that air of mystery behind it, but somehow easier to follow than the other books. It almost felt a bit slow because you’re expecting some big dog fights or a mystery that needs to be solved, but it does eventually pick up and when it does, you’re launched straight out of this stratosphere.

Tamsyn Muir’s writings are like listening to a symphony play something with several movements. Each book stands on its own as a movement, but the bigger picture is always better revealed by the end. There’s true highs and sad lows. There’s the Adagio and the Allegro and all of it sounds different, but makes absolute sense in its whole.

And like all of Tamsyn Muir’s books, this is another one you need to explore on your own. It’s different, but actually fits perfectly into the context of the rest of the series. And the ending will definitely make you hope for Alecto the Ninth to finally arrive. I already plan on rereading this entire series once Alecto is out and I can only hope that everything will make sense by the end.

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