I’ve been intrigued about this book ever since I saw the front cover. We all know we buy with our eyes and the cover of this book causes no exception. It’s not just the cover though. As we dive in, you’ll discover it’s dark, gothic and bold and even the outer cover sets you up for a sneak peak of what’s to come, the dark outer cover with pitch black page edges had me fantasising about what might be coming before I even saw the glimmer of white from the first page
The book is focused on two main characters Gideon & Harrowhark. Gideon an orphan girl who grew up on this dark and seamlessly lifeless planet and Harrowhark the leader of the Ninth House on the ninth planet. As the story builds you quickly discover they far from like each other, in fact Gideon has tried on several occasions to escape from the grips of Harrowhark only to fail.
Gideon & Harrowhark are summoned to planet one which is a large mainly ocean-based planet by the Emperor to take part in a trial. They visit a desolate city where they enter a huge mansion. The descriptive writing from Tamsyn Muir is just incredible thought this section. Being a very visual person, it was everything I needed to visualise this huge scene in my mind. The goal of the trial is to ascend to Lyctorhood, little info is given about what this is until the end of the book. I found myself glued to the pages at this point hoping Id be enlightened to what this was, but no Tamsyn makes us wait.
You soon discover the Nine Houses are in competition with each other in the trails and as the tension builds as you see them fight each other. Although this book isn’t gory, don’t expect to see everyone at the end. Muir was more than happy to slowly kill off anyone you may find yourself getting attached to. As we start to find out more about Gideon you get the sense she’s the underdog in the trails and begin to discover more about the plants everyone comes from. Gideon’s planet are the guardians of a tomb which becomes more important later in the book. As the trials begin Gideon pledges to help Harrowhark as what she sees as a possible means to a final escape from her grip.
This book is dark, and gothic yet humorous throughout. I found myself holding my breath at times and having to remind myself to take a deep gasp before turning the page. I’d HIGHLY recommend to anyone looking for a descriptive dark fantasy novel with a series of books following.