Blog tour and review: Iron Heart by Nina Varela

Hi everyone,

I’m here today with such an exciting post, it’s my stop on the blog tour for Iron Heart! Iron Heart is the sequel to the incredible sapphic science fantasy novel Crier’s War. Thank you so much to Shealea at Caffeine Book Tours, HarperTeen and Nina Varela for allowing me to scream excitedly about this book on this tour! You are in for such a treat with this sequel! Do check out the rest of the tour stops all week long, you can view the tour schedule here.

Title: Iron Heart

Author: Nina Varela

Publisher: HarperTeen

Publication date: 08 September 2020

Genres: Young Adult | Fantasy | Science Fiction



An unstoppable love between two girls—one human, one Made—both set on destroying the Iron Heart.

For too long the cruel, beautiful Automae have lorded over the kingdom of Rabu, oppressing the humans who live there. But the human revolution is on the rise, and at its heart is Ayla. Once handmaiden, now fugitive, Ayla escaped the palace of Lady Crier, the girl Ayla had planned to kill . . . but instead fell in love with. Now Ayla has pledged her allegiance to Queen Junn, whom she believes can accomplish the ultimate goal of the human rebellion: destroy the Iron Heart. Without it, the Automae will be weakened to the point of extinction.

But playing at Ayla’s memory are the powerful feelings she developed for Crier. And unbeknownst to her, Crier has also fled the palace, taking up among travelling rebels, determined to find and protect Ayla.

As their paths collide, neither are prepared for the dark secret underlying the Iron Heart.

In this stunning sequel to acclaimed author Nina Varela’s Crier’s War, the love that launched a revolution must now pave the way for a whole new era…and the ultimate change of heart.

You can purchase your own copy of Iron Heart at Amazon, B&N, Book Depository, IndieBound, or your own favourite local bookshop!


Bio: Nina Varela is a nationally awarded writer of screenplays, short fiction, poetry, and novels. In May 2017, she graduated magna cum laude from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts with a BFA in Writing for Screen & Television. Crier’s War was her debut, and this is the sequel. She is originally from Durham, North Carolina, where she grew up on a hippie commune in the middle of the woods. She now lives in Los Angeles.

You can keep uptodate with Nina Varela at the following links: website, Goodreads, Instagram and Twitter

Please note that this review will contain spoilers for the first book in the series, Crier’s War. All quotes are from an advanced reader’s copy so may be changed in the final copy.

Ummmm so where on earth do I start with this book?! It’s probably one of my favourite sequels ever! I love it even more than Crier’s War, it went in a direction I never really expected and oh my god, it’s so, so gay. I am in love.

Iron Heart picks up where Crier’s War left off: Ayla and Benji are on their way to Varn to ally with the Mad Queen; Crier is betrothed to Scyre Kinok and waiting to be married. Meanwhile, Scyre Kinok’s alternative to Heartstone continues to wreck havoc on his followers and Crier and Ayla must find find a way to stop him.

All I have to say is wow. I wasn’t sure what we were going to expect in this sequel, but it certainly wasn’t what we got. But I loved it! I’m going to attempt to talk about this in some semblance of an order so here are some headings to assist.

Things got dark

This is probably the main element giving me the ‘I did not expect this’ vibe. But Iron Heart got so dark, it almost had a horror vibe at times which is of course why I’m so absolutely in love with this!! Let’s start with the shades, these creepy, terrifying creatures: goodness they are horrific! I absolutely adore the kind of ‘creature that is quite clearly dead but yet still fights on and on and will never, ever stop’. There is just something so spinechillingly creepy about it. Varela’s descriptions were so fantastic. They are definitely creepy and gross, and there is a MAJOR content warning for body horror. But I found the way the shades were described with their broken limbs, black veins and caved in heads, just so disgustingly fantastic!

The plotline surrounding the Iron Heart and how Heartstone was made also got rreeeal dark and I absolutely loved it. It was so unexpected, I was shook. There’s a moment in a room where Crier just freezes as she realises the truth and then you freeze when you realise what she’s realised, it was just amazing. Where Crier’s War was perhaps a little lighter, based within the safety of the palace, now that Ayla and Crier have left the confines of the palace, they are faced with a world darker than even I, someone who reads a lot of dark books, had anticipated.

Things got real gay

Crier oh Crier my sweet, sweet Crier. The love she has for Ayla is seriously unmatched. This Automa is literally fighting to the death and all she can think about is Ayla. It is so funny but also so sweet and tender. Meanwhile there’s Ayla who’s refusing to think about Crier at all even though she’ll see random day to day objects like a hairbrush or a bathtub and immediately think about Crier. The way these two are so constantly in the other’s thoughts was just adorable and so so beautiful. And their reunion scene is one of my favourites in the book. The horror and shock and disbelief is hilarious to read and also it’s just really really gay. There are so many moments of soft queer yearning and longing and glancing looks and holding hands and constantly checking back to make sure the other is okay, I love them to pieces. This book just gives us sapphic joy and I love it.

Other characters

I loved that we got to spend a bit more time with characters we didn’t get to see as much of in the first book, particularly Queen Junn of Varn, the Mad Queen, the Bone Eater. We saw her briefly in Crier’s War but she plays a much more important role in this book. I love seeing female monarchs kicking butts and ruling shit and Junn, as a queen who had to take the throne whilst still a teenager, is that to a tee. She’s had to build this air of ferocity and madness in an attempt to get people to fear her because it’s the only way they’d listen to a young woman. I also appreciated getting to see more of Storme and hear his backstory finally about how the heck he survived the village raid and made it to Queen Junn’s court. There’s also some really sweet anecdotes about the relationship between Junn and Storme, and despite it being such a small part of the book, the hidden story of how they met is really touching and beautiful. I’m still not a Benji fan however. Benji, can you seriously stop harassing Ayla for being in love with Crier, WHO WOULDN’T LOVE HER.


We also get a deeper look into alchemy in this book! I really loved the extra worldbuilding details added thanks to our time spent in Queen Junn’s court. I really love small worldbuilding details in fantasy, so there were some really interesting alchemy creations that I appreciated, like the little birds that flew about to stop intruders. We also got a better look at alchemy in the search for Yora’s heart, that mysterious substance from the first book which we learned powered the very first Automa. I would still have liked to see more of this, but that’s because I’m a big fan of very intricate and detailed adult fantasies and so love exploring new and exciting sciences or magics or religions – I always want more of it!

So all in all, I really loved Iron Heart! I enjoyed Crier’s War but loved this sequel even more. The darkness was unexpected but that’s part of what made me love this book as it provided such a deadly, tense atmosphere for the book. And finally, of course Crier and Ayla’s relationship continued to be both the sweetest and gayest relationship in YA and I will love them forever.

30 Days of Pride: Lesbian books

Hi everyone,

Today we’re moving onto books with lesbian characters and relationships! When I was going through all my books to write these posts, I noticed a pretty terrible trend in sapphic books: lets never dare mention whether a character is lesbian, bisexual, pan…. It was much more common in f/f books than it is in m/m which is quite annoying and made it rather difficult to try and celebrate books in lists like this. But! I hope I’ve managed to get together a list of ten marvellous books with lesbian characters for you to enjoy.

Gideon the Ninth by Tasmyn Muir

A book that’s not afraid to actually use the word lesbian on the blurb! Gideon the Ninth was probably one of the most hyped books of 2019, and with good reason – it brought lesbian necromancers into the mainstream. It’s a very very different book, combining very technical and complicated science with the fantasy magic of necromancy. Alongside that is a murder mystery, a complex relationship between a necromancer and her cavalier and a huge number of other characters (tip for reading this: make good use of the character guide at the start, it is hugely helpful). I found it very difficult to get into this book, but I’m glad I pushed through because I really loved the ending! Check out my full review here.

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling

From lesbian necromancers to a lesbian witch! These Witches Don’t Burn follows lesbian witch Hannah, who has the power to control the four elements. If a non-witch ever sees her use magic, Hannah could lose her magic for good. Thus, she spends most of her time living a fairly normal live, avoiding her ex-girlfriend (another witch). But a blood magic ritual disrupts an end of school event, and then signs of dark magic appear all over Salem so Hannah must team up with her ex-girlfriend to try find them. These Witches Don’t Burn also now has a sequel, This Coven Won’t Break.

The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum

K. Ancrum is one of the authors I will always read, no matter what she writes! The Weight of the Stars is her second novel, a lesbian love story about space (kind of). Alexandria’s mother is an astronaut who volunteered for a space exploration mission to the edge of the solar system. She stays up every night to try and catch a message from her on her radio. After a horrific accident breaks Alexandria’s arm, Ryann helps her listen to the radio and two grow closer. This is a very soft and quiet contemporary YA with an edge of science fiction, about found family and love that binds you across a solar system.

The Afterward by E.K Johnston

The Afterward is a quiet fantasy about what happens after the quest is over and the heroes have to go back to normality. Two of these heroes grew close over the quest, Kalanthe, lesbian knight, and Olsa, bi thief. But now they are back to their everyday lives. Kalanthe must betray her heart and find a husband who can pay off her debt to knight school and Olsa must find a way to esacpe thievery now that she’s famous. Switching between Before (what happened during the quest) and After (how the heroes get back to life), The Afterward is a wonderful, calming and lighthearted fantasy with a beautiful sapphic relationship as its focus. Check out my full review here!

Crier’s War by Nina Varela

Varela describes this as “lesbian slow burn enemies to lovers fantasy” and it is definitely that, I love all of these words!! This is a brilliant, well loved YA fantasy that features all your favourite tropes (including two of my favourites, enemies to lovers and ‘there’s only one bed’). Years ago, in the War of Kinds, Automae, made to be the playthings of human nobles, rose up against their human owners and took over. Now, humans are the servants and playthings of the Automae. Crier was Made to be her father’s heir, inherit the the land and rule in his place. But that was before she met Ayla, a human servant in the castle.

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan

This is a very dark and difficult read, so please research content warnings for this one before reading. The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali is about a lesbian, Muslim girl whose parents take her to Bangladesh to be married after they discover she’s gay when they catch her with her girlfriend. This books deals with lots of very difficult issues, including racism and homophobia, but ends hopefully. It was interesting to read about how Rukhsana felt dealing with all the different pulls of culture on her, from her Bengali heritage to her American upbringing. You can read my full review here.

In the Vanisher’s Palace by Aliette de Bodard

This is a dark lesbian x bisexual retelling of Beauty and the Beast, where both are women, with an all Vietnamese cast, a blend of science and fantasy, and *drum roll* where the Beast is a motherfucking dragon. (Yes you read that correctly). Add this to the list of queer novellas which are just killing SFF right now. Dark sapphic Beauty and the Beast is the retelling we all needed.

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them is a YA contemporary full of gorgeous, lyrical prose. It’s about Audre, a Trinidadian girl who is sent to America after her very religious mother catches her with her girlfriend, the pastor’s daughter. In Minneapolis, she meets Mabel, a chronically ill girl who helps her navigate an American high school, and the two fall in love. It’s promises to be an absolutely gorgeous, so beautiful, tender sapphic love story.

The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie

Lesbian pirates and sea monsters, oh my! I don’t think I can describe this book any better than that?! This is an action packed fantasy about Chinese-American Cas who has spend her whole life raising sea monsters to fight pirates, who then gets kidnapped by a pirate and forced to raise one of the sea monsters for the pirates. And then she falls in love with one of the pirates which really just complicates everything even more. The monster pups are just adorable (but still killing machines!), there is a fiersome (and totally sexy) pirate Queen and lots of fun, morally questionable activities!

Pulp by Robin Talley

Robin Talley is a legend in the land of queer historical fiction and Pulp is no different. This is a book told in two timelines, in 1955, where we follow Janet who explores her sexuality through books about women falling in love with other women. 62 years later, Abby is completing her senior project on classic lesbian pulp fiction, and feels strongly connected to one of the authors who wrote under the pseudonym Marian Love. Pulp is the story about the connection these two girls share even though they live completely different lives in completely different times.

That’s it for today’s glorious lesbian characters – do you have a favourite? Let me know in the comments below, I always need more lesbian books in my life.

30 Days of Pride: Science fiction & fantasy

Hi everyone,

I’d like to start again by directing you to the Black Lives matter carrd to continue efforts to sign petitions and donate money to support protestors. If you’re Australian, we have a number of protests this weekend in state capitals across the country, to lend our voices and support to Bla(c)k Australians, so please check out if you have any near you! For fellow Melbournians, event info can be found here.

Today’s post is pretty much just a list of my favourite books. Science fiction, fantasy, horror and all that comes under the SFF heading are by far my favourite genres and I read so much of it, so today’s list of ‘queer speculative fiction’ ended up basically just being a list of all my favourite books. I hope you find a few books at least to add to your TBR!

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

The Priory of the Orange Tree is the only book on today’s list that I haven’t read yet (although at time of posting, I’m 300 pages in!), and that’s because I couldn’t talk about queer speculative fiction without mentioning the powerhouse that is Priory. Priory is a hefty, high fantasy involving dragons, assassins and queens. As word of the Nameless One’s return takes root, Queen Sabran the Ninth, unwed and with no heir, must birth a daughter. Assassins circle around her whilst her lady-in-waiting, Ead, works to protect the queen by using forbidden magic. Not only that, the world has zero homophobia AND has an f/f relationship. A slow burn, epic fantasy at its best, The Priory of the Orange Tree is not to be missed.

The Fever King by Victoria Lee

A surprise to none to see this title on my favourite queer speculative fiction, as The Fever King is my favourite book. Alongside the sequel, The Electric Heir, this series blew me away unlike any other. Set in a dystopian universe where the world has been ravaged by a virus, those who survive have magic. In Carolinia, Noam, a technopath, is trained by none other than Calix Leher, ex-King of Carolinia. Alongside a group of trainees, Noam vows to take down the current regime who terrorise the refugee and immigrant population in Carolinia. This is a series about trauma, how to survive, and finding the strength to fight back against abuse by the powerful. You can read my full reviews here for The Fever King and The Electric Heir.

The Fifth Season by N.K Jemisin

The Fifth Season is the first book in one of my favourite fantasy trilogies. If you haven’t heard of N.K Jemisin, firstly, maybe think about correcting that, because her work is outstanding. The worldbuilding, the plot, the sheer geological magnitude of it all, makes The Fifth Season the powerhouse of SFF that it is. I’m very close to rereading this whole trilogy so maybe at some point this month I’m going to end up saying ‘fuck it’ to all my other books and reread this trilogy. This is a story with several POVs, set in a world with dangerous and regular seismac events. It follows several Orogenes, individuals who can control thermal energy and help with the aforementioned terrible seismic events. We have: Essun, told in second person POV, a woman who’s trying to track down her daughter and husband (who just killed her son). Demaya, a young girl who grew up in an abusive household and has been given to the Fulcrum, to train her Orogene powers. And Syenite, who is an adult in the Fulcrum and has been asked to have a child with one of the most powerful Orogene. This book is just full of twists and turns and is one of the most clever and wellcrafted novels I’ve ever read.

The Library of the Unwritten by A.J Hackwith

The Library of the Unwritten is one of the most fun fantasy novels I’ve ever read. Hell’s Library is the place where all unwritten manuscripts are housed. But sometimes the books come alive. When a character goes missing from one of the books, Claire, the Head Librarian, must track down the character on Earth but somehow ends up in the midst of a battle between Heaven and Hell as each searches for the Devil’s Bible. This book is an absolute riot of fun, full of snark and sass and with the first on-page pansexual rep I’ve ever read! You can read a full review here.

The Unpoken Name by A.K Larkwood

One of my more recent favourites, I read The Unspoken Name earlier this year. This is an expansive and detailed slow burn portal fantasy about an orc named Csorwe. She is destined to be sacrificied to her god on her fourteenth birthday. Instead, on the day of her death, she runs away with a wizard who trains her up to be his sword. She must then embark on a quest to find an ancient artifact holding powerful knowledge. This has a huge number of my favourite things in fantasies: necromancers, powerful god magic, wizards, all powerful women losing complete control, different worlds and peoples. It’s a huge story, and I absolutely loved it. You can read my full review here.

Witchmark by C. Polk

Witchmark is one of the most magical books I’ve ever read! Set in a world similar to Edwardian England, Miles is a doctor, using his healing magic to treat soldiers with PTSD after a world war. But his past is bound to catch up with him: Miles ran away to war to escape his noble family, where he would be enslaved to provide his sister with a source of power for her magic. When a fatally poisoned patient reveals Miles magic to a handsome stranger, Miles must investigate the murder, with the help of a handsome stranger, all while trying to stay free from his family’s influence. There is a really sweet romance in this, as well as lots of action, and a fascinating world that reimagines an Edwardian England with magic.

The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling

Now onto The Scary One on this post. The Luminous Dead is a terrifying horror sci-fi about being trapped in a caving system and trying to make it out alive. Told in only one setting, and with just two characters, The Luminous Dead is absolutely remarkable for such a small cast and setting. I thought it might get a little repetitive given the small setting, but it really doesn’t. It is a terrifying descent to madness, psychological horror at its best, as you never know if the main character is experiencing reality or hallucination. You can check out my full review here.

We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

I absolutely adored this YA fantasy when I read it last year, and I really need to read the sequel! This is a book set in Medio, an island world where women are trained to be Primera (wives to help running the household) or Segunda (wives to have the kids). Dani and Carmen are rivals at the prestigious school and have been chosen to marry the same man. So of course they go and fall in love with each other instead of their husband. But Dani has a secret. When she was young, her parents forged papers and snuck her across the border wall into Medio. When she is asked to spy on her husband for a resistance group, Dani needs to decide whether to keep the privilege her parents sacrifice gave her, or to fight for a free Medio for all. It’s such a relevant book, the similarity to the US/Mexico border is undeniable. This is a book about resistance and fighting for what’s right, and is definitely one I wish more people were reading because it is fantastic. You can read my full review here.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Erin Morgenstern is well known for her beautiful, artistic, poetic style of writing. The Starless Sea is no different to her debut, The Night Circus, in this regard. The Starless Sea follows Zachary, after he picks up a library book and finds himself in the story. Except the book has missing pages so he doesn’t know how his story is going to finish. As he tries to track down the origins of the book, he crosses paths with Dorian, a storyteller Zachary is immediately drawn to, and Mirabel, a door maker. And if you believe enough, if you long enough for something, then Mirabel’s doors might just lead somewhere. (The somewhere being a magical library). At it’s heart, The Starless Sea is a book about readers and their longing to escape reality. You can read my full review here.

A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

A Memory Called Empire is one of the most unique books I’ve ever read, and certainly the most unique science-fiction novel I’ve read. It’s a genre-blending novel crossing hard sci-fi, murder mystery, political thriller and a English Literature thesis on poetry. A Memory Called Empire follows Mahit, an ambassador to a small mining station. She is called to the Texicalaan Empire when her predecessor is murdered. As she tries to discover who killed her predecessor, she is embrolied in complex political battlefield. The writing style of this novel could be difficult to get into – as I mentioned above, it’s almost like a thesis on poetry as in Texicalaan, the language is poetry. Alongside the memory melding technology (whereby Mahit’s predecesor’s memories and voice are embedded in her mind), this makes for a complex, unique book, but one that is absolutely outstanding. You cna read my full review here.

Jade City by Fonda Lee

I read Jade City, and it’s sequel Jade War, at the start of the year and adored them! I cannot wait for the finale. These are huge, epic political fantasies, set on an Asian inspired island nation called Kekon, where jade is mined and can give individuals magic abilities. It follows the Kaul family, who are one of two major clans in the capital city. This follows their battles with the opposing Ayt clan to win control of the city, and is an epic tale of politics, family and honour.

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

The only YA on this list, and it’s a good one! Wilder Girls was the first horror novel I’ve read (I used to be a real horror wimp), and this book really pushed me to expand my reading and I’m so glad I did, because some of my favourite books in the past year have been horror. Wilder Girls opens in the midst of a virus outbreak, at a quarantined school. The virus has mutated in the girls, causing deformations in the girls and death in the teachers. When Hetty’s best friend goes missing, she ventures outside the quarantine into the dark and haunting woods, where creatures and reality is twisted from the virus, to find her. A disturbing start to my journey into horror! You can read my full review here.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

If The Library of the Unwritten is the most fun fantasy novel I’ve read, then The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet is the most fun sci-fi I’ve ever read. This book follows the spaceship Wayfarer, a tunnelling ship which travels space and ‘punches’ holes to create tunnels for other ships to travel along. It’s set in the future, after humans have had to leave Earth and take to the skies. As they travelled across the universe to find a place to live, they met other species living in the universe, joining the Galactic Commons. The Wayfarer crew is therefore filled with different, unique alien species, similar to TV series like Star Trek. The characters really shine in this book, from Ashby, the human captain, to Rosemary, the young, inexperienced clerk escaping from her past on Mars, to Corbin, the grumpy and kind-of-a-jerk human who ended up being one of my favourites, to Sissix, an Aandrisk, a reptilian-like species with different social language compared to the humans. This book is just an absolute joy to read! You can read my full review here.

The City We Became by N.K Jemisin

I only finished this book on Sunday so hastily added it to the list before posting because it is a masterpiece. The City We Became is Jemisin’s newest book, released earlier this year. In this world, cities can become alive when they develop a particualrly unique culture and reach a great size. But the act of their awakening is destructive and dangerous to other parallel worlds around them. New York has just awakened, but because of the size and uniqueness of each of the boroughs, six people (five for each of the boroughts, and one for New York itself) have awoken and been tasked with fighting of The Enemy who is trying to kill the city. It’s a complex book and idea to get your head around (which is probably why I’ve done such a terrible job at explaining it). Just know this book is incredible, it is so alive and real, I feel like I know New York even though I’ve only ever spent 5 days there. It also doesn’t shy away from talking about race, racism, and expertly entwines discussions of racism and microaggressions into a powerful fight to save the city. I’ll be posting a full review of this book tomorrow so check back in to find out more about it.

Have you read any of these? What’s your favourite queer SFF book? I am always looking for new ones to add to my TBR!

Book review: The Electric Heir by Victoria Lee

Title: The Electric Heir by Victoria Lee

Publisher: Skyscape

Publication date: 17 March 2020

Genre: Science fantasy

Page extent: 480 pages


Goodreads blurb: In the sequel to The Fever King, Noam Álvaro seeks to end tyranny before he becomes a tyrant himself.

Six months after Noam Álvaro helped overthrow the despotic government of Carolinia, the Atlantians have gained citizenship, and Lehrer is chancellor. But despite Lehrer’s image as a progressive humanitarian leader, Noam has finally remembered the truth that Lehrer forced him to forget—that Lehrer is responsible for the deadly magic infection that ravaged Carolinia.

Now that Noam remembers the full extent of Lehrer’s crimes, he’s determined to use his influence with Lehrer to bring him down for good. If Lehrer realizes Noam has evaded his control—and that Noam is plotting against him—Noam’s dead. So he must keep playing the role of Lehrer’s protégé until he can steal enough vaccine to stop the virus.

Meanwhile Dara Shirazi returns to Carolinia, his magic stripped by the same vaccine that saved his life. But Dara’s attempts to ally himself with Noam prove that their methods for defeating Lehrer are violently misaligned. Dara fears Noam has only gotten himself more deeply entangled in Lehrer’s web. Sooner or later, playing double agent might cost Noam his life. 

Before beginning this review, please note that Victoria Lee has a large list of content warnings for this novel – it is darker than The Fever King so please take note before reading (you can find the list here).

It was like Dara had been shot but hadn’t realised yet, was bleeding out.

Me reading this book

It has been almost four months since I first read The Electric Heir, as I was somehow the luckiest person ever and managed to snag a NetGalley ARC. If you’ve read other posts on this blog, you may have realised The Fever King is my favourite book in the world, and was most definitely my favourite read of 2019. It was always going to be hard to follow up what was one of the most impactful, resonant and utterly captivating novels I’ve ever read. And yet somehow, The Electric Heir stands up to the mantel of its predecessor and manages to be just as entrancing and magnificent as I ever dreamed it could be. 

Following from where The Fever King leaves off, we now get both Noam and Dara’s POVs and isn’t that just a joy to behold!! Dara, fine purveyor of pineapple pizzas and goats, is coming back to Carolinia, with one goal: assassinate Calix Leher. Noam meanwhile is determined to build a better society for refugees, even if that means he’ll need to take down another government. 

Where The Fever King addresses the immediacy of trauma, The Electric Heir brings a further edge to the discussions and implications of trauma: what happens after? Through both Noam and Dara’s POV, we see the different ways trauma and abuse can impact victims. We see the different behaviours that follow, the different thoughts and opinions, the different forms abuse can take. We see the subtle, mental manipulations crossing paths with the outright physical abuse. But we also see, from start to finish, a book of survival. And that makes The Electric Heir one of the most powerful books I’ve read.  

I am just completely in awe of Victoria Lee. 

The pacing of this novel is phenomenal. It is tense and action packed but filled with the emotional moments that feel like a knife to the chest in between. This is an extremely hard book to review, because much like The Fever King, all I want to say is THIS IS INCREDIBLE. Even sitting here, writing this review, my heart is pounding as I race to the end, and that is exactly the feeling I had reading The Electric Heir. It is everything I wanted, dreamt of and couldn’t even imagine I needed for the sequel, and end, to this destroying duology. 

Book review: Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Title: Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir


Publication date: 10 Sept 2019

Genre: Science fantasy | Adult

Page extent: 448 pages

Goodreads blurb: Gideon the Ninth is the most fun you’ll ever have with a skeleton.

The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

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

Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as skillfully animated as necromantic skeletons. The result is a heart-pounding epic science fantasy.

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.


Well that was an utterly bizarre, but captivating, challenging and cinematic read. I don’t quite know where to start with this review! As my most anticipated read this year, I expected a lot from the book marketed as ‘lesbian necromancers in space’. I’m not quite sure I got what I expected – it was so unique I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like it. It does make for a confusing first half, but very much improves in the second half with an absolutely phenomenal ending. 

Gideon the Ninth starts convolutedly. It throws you in the deep end, and doesn’t wait for you to catch up. The sheer amount of vocabulary used in this book is incredible, the prose is intensely descriptive which I admit took me a while to get on board with. The large cast is difficult to recall and I do wish I’d made much more use of the character guide at the start of the novel. 

But in saying that, what I did like at the start were Gideon and Harrow. I enjoyed Gideon’s sarcastic, snarky, ridiculous humour throughout. I liked that it lessened what was otherwise quite a heavy and dense first half. I also thought Harrow was brilliantly characterised from the moment she stepped on page. I LOVE her. She has such a presence whenever we see her, and whilst Gideon was so unique in her own ways, I thought it was Harrow who really shone. 

The second half of the book is where things get really exciting. With the launch of the murder mystery, the book becomes intensely gripping and I flew through the second half. With the murders, it did also lessen the character load so made for a much less confusing read as well. The emotional hits also begin to pick up, crescendoing to that ending which really truly hurts. Muir’s writing really sings in some of the big fight scenes towards the end of the novel, and I wish so much I could learn to write battles as she does. 

The relationship between Gideon and Harrow was fantastic, and I loved their growth and development across the novel. Harrow particularly has a fantastic character arc and I am so excited to see from her POV in the second book.

Although Gideon the Ninth definitely takes some time to get used to, it improves greatly in the second half, ending exceptionally and with some fantastic twists and hard hitting scenes which make this a bizarrely unique book.

Paws out,
Rach + Draco