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Nona the Ninth is another confusing mystery of a story in the Locked Tomb series. Similar to Harrow the Ninth, readers are introduced to a familiar character who does not act like someone they remember. It’s also another beginning as the reader dives into life with Nona among characters who have joined pockets of resistance against the necromancers.
Nona is another unreliable narrator, but instead of focusing on the use of necromancy, the reader is introduced to life among the resistance. Tamsyn Muir paints the picture of a world where gunshots and explosions are a daily part of life. And as Nona befriends the children she works with at school, the reader is shown how even the youngest are affected. To them, necromancers are the ultimate evil and the reason for all the bad things that have happened to the world(s). Brutal examples are made of necromancers, or zombies as the populace call them.
As Nona builds relationships with those around her, hints are dropped as to who exactly she could be. I will admit I grew confused as different names were introduced and sometimes characters switched mid-paragraph to another name. I highly suggest you give the prior two books a reread before diving into Nona. At least reread Harrow the Ninth. Until I read the ending once again of Harrow the names and situations mentioned didn’t quite click. Unfortunately, even when everything came together, I found the big reveal to be anti-climactic.
Nona the Ninth is a set-up book. While it has a steady written flow, it is going to be a slow one. Don’t expect flashy shows of magic, or heavy action scenes. There are some points where the combat grows intense, but Nona is rarely the subject of the conflict; she is a bystander. The highlight of this story was the pieces of history woven into the plot. Nona dreams of a man telling her a story. A story where the names were redacted. I wish they had been used instead of letters, but it was interesting. The origin of necromancy will be revealed and all the cascading side effects that took place because of it.
Do not pick up Nona the Ninth and expect as exciting a read as the previous two novels. But I also urge you to not give up on the series after experiencing the different writing style. This is the lull before the storm. Readers have seen the complex and thrilling abilities of Tamsyn Muir. As we venture into the final book of the series, I have a feeling all the cards will be laid out on the table and it will be a book to remember.
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