So, you hopped aboard the hype train, you speed-read Gideon the Ninth, and you loved it—now what?
(If you have not yet hopped aboard said hype train and read Gideon the Ninth, well, get on that.)
Have you been left hungering for yet more empirically-approached space magic? Are you desperate for more gothic mansions to explore? More undead monstrosities to defeat? More straight-up crazypants characters? MORE BONES?
If you can’t endure the, er, harrowing wait for the sequel, Harrow the Ninth (due out in June 2020, sob) we’ve got you covered: here are five books to help you scratch that bone-deep itch.
Three Parts Dead, by Max Gladstone
If you found yourself jamming to Tasmyn Muir’s combo of contemporary sensibilities and semi-immortal space magicians, check out Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence, starting with Three Parts Dead.
Allow me to set the scene: At the core of the multilayered metropolis of Alt Coulumb sits the fire god Kos, powering the city’s generators and presiding over the city’s faithful. But when Kos meets an untimely end (is a god’s end ever timely?), the city stands in crisis. Enter Tara, first-year associate in top-tier necromantic firm Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao. With the help of Abelard, a twitchy devotee of Kos, Tara must resurrect the god, or whatever’s left of Him, before the city built on His power crumbles. We’re talking technomagic, necromantic lawyers, souls as currency, and a murder trial for an immortal being.
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, by Stuart Turton
Gideon the Ninth’s gothic space palace left you craving a solid gothic murder mystery with Big Agatha Christie Energy? The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is just that—with a dark genre twist.
Pitched as Christie meets Groundhog Day, Turton’s novel transports his reader to Blackheath, where Evelyn Hardcastle is destined to die at her own birthday party at eleven o’clock sharp. It is Aiden Bishop’s mission to discover her killer, but not as himself—when he wakes in a body not his own, he learns that he has 24 hours to inhabit each guest’s skull before the clock resets. Aiden has eight days to find Evelyn’s murderer, and eight witnesses to inhabit, some more useful than others. With shifting loyalties, twisty-turny reveals, and plenty of good old fashioned violence, The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle makes the most of its hooky premise to keep readers turning the pages of this thriller deep into the night.
Hammers on Bone, by Cassandra Khaw
Do you ever find yourself wishing that classic noir detective story featured a few more fleshy tentacles and unspeakable abominations from the deep? If you thought Gideon the Ninth was cool, what with its dead bodies and all, but far too light on detailed descriptions of human molars and fatty tissue, you’re going to want to check out Cassandra Khaw’s Hammers on Bone.
Khaw’s British Fantasy and Locus award-nominated novella marries hard-boiled detective and Lovecraftian nightmare. John Persons is a private dick with more than a few personal demons, mainly that he is one himself. When he’s hired by a 10-year-old kid to take out the youngster’s stepdad, Persons is quick to recognize the man is more than an abusive step-parent—there’s something horrifying lurking in him that’s infecting everyone he comes in contact with. And as Persons knows, it takes a monster to hunt a monster.
Sabriel, by Garth Nix
If Gideon the Ninth left you with visions of skeleton armies and monstrous undead constructs dancing through your head, might I suggest a modern classic of the form: Sabriel, featuring dark fantasy’s OG cool necromancy girl.
When Sabriel receives an urgent message from her father, the fact that the carrier of the message is dead is not the alarming part; as the daughter of the Abhorsen, a necromancer whose duty it is to keep the Old Kingdom’s dead under control, the girl seen her fair share of death. The alarming bit is that Sabriel’s father is missing, possibly trapped, and without him to keep the dead down, all manner of horrors will be free to stalk the earth and terrorize the living. Sabriel must retrace her father’s footsteps before whatever dead entity has ensnared him is unleashed on the whole Kingdom. Nix’s blend of World War I-era technology and medieval swords and sorcery makes for a rich and fascinating setting, and there’s plenty more to like in addition to the aforementioned necromantic armies: lost princes, ancient riddles, magical servants made of paper… oh, and Sabriel’s sidekick is an acerbic talking cat, so.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, by Hirohiko Araki
This recommendation may seem (sorry, have to say it) bizarre, but stay with me: If you’re looking for a book that can match Gideon the Ninth‘s sheer batshit weirdness, this kind of makes sense. More specifically, if you enjoy clever and creative use of incredibly specialized magical skills and a possibly-undead eternal nemesis, but thought Gideon could have used more face-punching, JoJo’s might be what you’re looking for.
In Victorian England, Dio Brando, the son of a poor criminal, is adopted by a wealthy gentleman, George Joestar, in repayment for a service from Dio’s father. George hopes to foster Dio alongside his own son, Jonathan (known, obviously, as JoJo). Unfortunately for many generations of Joestars to come, Dio has other plans: determined to seize the Joestar fortune for himself, he launches a campaign to defame Jonathan. Things take a turn for the weird when Dio discovers an ancient stone mask with the power to transform its wearer into an immortal vampire. I realize this still doesn’t sound that bonkers yet, but this is a series that later incorporates cyborg Nazis, a trio of ancient Aztec vampires named Wham, AC/DC, and Cars, and a serial killer with the ability to loop time who keeps a meowing plant in his attic. Yeah.
What weird, necromantic readalikes do you recommend?