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In the past few years, I’ve read a book that is becoming my new book obsession. That means I absolutely have to tell everyone about it and I’ve read it several times. Sometimes I read it again right after I finish! Lastly, this book is Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. I’ve never read anything like it! And people often ask me to recommend more books like Gideon the Ninth because they loved it!
Here’s the short answer: there aren’t any. Muir’s award-winning book is a snappy, strange, glorious space secret. It’s about Gideon, a grumpy swordswoman, and Harrow, a sadistic necromancer and Gideon’s lifelong enemy. Gideon wants to disappear from her bleak planet of death, and Harrow promises to free her if she accompanies her to the First House to face a challenge that could end with Harrow gaining eternal life at the emperor’s side. This is a very abbreviated summary, but the point is, this book is so fun and different that I have nothing close to recommend.
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Even so, there are many, many books on aspects of Gideon the Ninth that I recommend that are worth your time because I’ve done my homework. So far I’ve read Gideon the Ninth nine times! And I even had the privilege of breaking the book down for Tor last year. So the list below is a wonderful selection of books to check out if you are looking to read more books like Gideon the Ninth. There may be slight plot spoilers for Gideon in the descriptions, but by the time you’re here I will assume you have read the book.
A memory that Arkady calls Martine Empire
Mahit Dzmare takes on the role of ambassador in the multi-system Teixcalaanli realm. But when she arrived she was caught upside down in a political storm and learned that her predecessor, the previous ambassador, may have died of not entirely natural reasons. Mahit must figure out how to rule in chaos and keep the peace while keeping her head at the same time.
Middlegame by Seanan McGuire
If your favorite part of Gideon is the WTF-Ery then this should be for you! It’s a coming-of-age apocalyptic story about twins Roger and Dodger, who are raised separately but still able to communicate psychologically. The twins were created through alchemy by another unusual being named James Reed who believes they are the key to helping him achieve immortality. But the twins aren’t sure if they want to help him.
The murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson
In Gideon, Harrow is a downright bloody mess most of the time, caused by the effort of performing bone magic. In this amazing novel, Molly is a young girl whose blood causes murder. Whenever Molly bleeds, a new version of Molly sprouts from her blood and tries to kill her, so the real Molly has to murder her. It’s quite a problem! Molly walks through life on tiptoe, trying to be careful, but she can’t stay wrapped in bubble wrap every second of the day.
All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries of Martha Wells
Raise your hand if you love how snarky Gideon was! This is my other favorite show lately and there is also a sarcastic badass warrior who just wants to be left alone. But this one is a snappy, confident security robot that still spends his time protecting people even though he claims he doesn’t like them. And when it doesn’t protect people from harm, it relaxes by streaming its favorite programs.
This is how you lose the time war of Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
If you loved the strange story from enemies to lovers in Gideon the Ninth then get this amazing novella! It’s about red and blue, two time-traveling agents on opposite sides in a time war, whose job it is to sabotage and defeat the other. Instead, they slowly fall in love with each other. (Check out this list for more of the best LGBTQ fantasy novels.)
The Library on Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
This is another of my book obsessions, and yes, like Gideon the Ninth, there really isn’t anything quite like it. So, if you like nonsensical violence and humor wrapped in a fantasy package, this is the book for you! The Mount Char Library is about a group of siblings raised in an infinite library by Father who may be God. He – and she – are definitely immortal. But when Father goes missing, the siblings begin to unravel and have to find out what happened to him before the most dangerous of them takes over.
The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht
If you’re looking for creepier magical events and problematic relationships, you’ve come to the right place! This Gothic grotesque is about a town called Elendhaven, which appears to stand on a black moon after the North Pole has split in two. Johann is a lanky monster man who has come out of the sea and gets his kicks to murder people. But when he teams up with a frail magician who also has vengeance on his mind, it means he can double the destruction.
The daughter of the tiger by K Arsenault Rivera
This book also has an evil warrior who teamed up with a spoiled princess! The nomadic Qorin tribes and the Hokkaran empire existed far apart, but now a creeping darkness is crumbling at their borders. The two women prophesied at birth must unite and fight the invading evil. But can a legendary Qorin warrior and a spoiled divine warrior empress work together to achieve this?
Moaning Titus: Volume 1 of the Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake
And this is a classic work of the Gothic fantasy about the Groan family living in a castle. The Groan family is led by Lord Sepulchrave, 76th Earl of Groan. At the beginning of the book, his heir, Titus, is born, which only annoys the twin sisters of the Lord even more. This is similar to Modern Family meets Addams Family meets Downton Abbey. Bottom line: It’s a good time to be Gothic!
The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero
And finally, if you’ve been a big fan of the First House in Gideon and you like books where a house full of secrets and ghouls tries to kill you, I recommend The Supernatural Enhancements. When the last member of the Wells family dies, A., a distant European relative, inherits the ominous Axton House estate deep in the woods of Point Bless, Virginia. But A. quickly learns that he has inherited much more than just a home – he gets all the ghosts and supernatural events that come with it.
Like I said, there’s nothing like Gideon the Ninth, but there are a hell of a lot of other books out there with similar aspects that will keep you happy to the bone. And here are a few quick recommendations! If one of the things you love about Gideon the Ninth is the locked space / distant mystery aspect, then I recommend Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty, in which spaceship clones have to team up to find out who is murdering their previous selves . If you’re looking to read more WLW books on sword-wielding lesbian necromancers, get Huntress by Malinda Lo. If you love imaginative imaginations that will capture your heart and mind, check out The Tensorate series by Neon Yang. And if you love that your books are full of WTF-Ery, read the Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen about a famous children’s author and a secret society with lots of secrets.
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