Now this is the story all about how Gideon’s life got flip-turned upside down…
Welcome back, boneheads! It’s time for another close read of Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir! I’m your host, Goriddle Gorilla, and today I’ll be recapping chapters nine and ten. These two chapters cover Gideon’s first venture out into the First House after she and Harrow arrive.
Before we start, just a quick reminder that this post will be more spoiled than a glass of milk sitting all day on an Arizona sidewalk, so if you haven’t read these chapters yet, you should bone up on them first.
ACT TWO: CHAPTER NINE
So Gideon wakes up, and she’s surrounded by her aunt and uncle, and their farmhands, and…wait, no, wrong book.
So Gideon wakes up in her old bedclothes, in their mouldering accommodations, having completely forgotten she saw the skeletons push all the shuttles over the edge of the landing dock. Which now means everyone is stuck on the planet with no means of leaving, turning this book into a bit more of a locked room mystery situation, like an Agatha Christie novel, but with more dead things.
The first thing Gideon does when she wakes is reach for her sword, and immediately finds a note from Harrow, telling her not to talk to anybody, and also that Harrow swiped the iron ring from Gideon as she slept. Annoyed, Gideon gets up, and investigates their dwellings and the things inside them more closely, like the chandelier and the tub and soap. Imagine Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman on her first morning in Richard Gere’s hotel room, but with black mold on everything and she’s wearing smudged skeleton face paint. It’s kinda like that.
Gideon finds several more stern notes from Harrow with various threats about making sure she paints her face, and seriously, do NOT speak to anyone. And stay out of trouble. And don’t look for her, she’s busy working.
Delightfully free from Harrow for the moment, Gideon ventures out into the house in search of breakfast, dressed in all black (‘cept her gator shoes, those are gangrene), and with her face freshly painted. (I realized in writing this that, having seen The Crow thirteen times in the theater as a teen, it’s no wonder I love a book with so much black-and-white face paint.)
In the breakfast area, Gideon is served by animated skeletons, which she observes are way more efficient and that they operate better than the skeletons back at the Ninth House. She also spies the horrible teens from Fourth House dining with the cavalier from the Fifth House. The cavalier introduces himself as Sir Magnus Quinn, as the teens heckle him from their table. (The bitty font used to convey their annoying taunts and whining pleases me to no end.)
Gideon, having been threatened within an inch of her life, and beyond, should she speak to anyone, simply nods in greeting like an undead mime. Magnus assumes the fact that Gideon doesn’t speak is a Ninth House custom thing, and not the direct orders from a bitchy necromancer, so he bids her farewell and they all leave the room.
Gideon spends more time walking around the enormous structure, with its rotting balconies, high ceilings, and vast terrace. (They’re at the Grand Floridian, aren’t they? Somehow, I am hung up on this idea that they’re in future Florida, but I don’t know why.) She also encounters a structure she doesn’t recognize, but which we readers know is an empty pool.
Most doors in the place are open, or at least unlocked, but behind a large tapestry Gideon finds a mouldering wooden door, with no handle, just a keyhole. But the door is locked and no amount of prying will open it, so she covers it back up. Now is a good time to point out that last time, dear readers, we learned the first and only rule of Fright Club: “(T)hat you never open a locked door unless you have permission.” So it’s for the best that Gideon didn’t succeed, because they might have been voted off the island on the first day.
While skulking further around the house, she comes upon voices, and hides in the deep recesses of the stairwell to eavesdrop. One of the voices has noticed that the shuttles are missing, but no one thinks it’s a big deal. (Big mistake. HUGE.) They continue arguing back and forth, and Gideon finally gets a glimpse of them: It’s the Third House twins and their cavalier.
Gideon notes that though the girls are twins, one is bright and lively, while the other is dull and boring. The girls are berating one another, but when the cav speaks up to defend one of them, he is reprimanded. As they walk off, the bright twin looks into the shadows, and lets Gideon know that she can see her hiding, and that it was a bad idea. Oops. Not a great way to start off your working relationship with the supposedly toughest of houses.
The next chapter has started and Gideon is back to eating, because it’s time for lunch. There’s been no sign of Harrow at either meal, which suits Gideon just fine. She fills up on meat and salad and shoves bread in her robes for later, in case there is some emergency breading to be done. Or she gets hungry again. One of these things is true.
As she is getting ready to leave, the necromancer and cavalier from the Eighth House arrive. Unlike her breakfast companions, these two are clearly upset by her presence. The necromancer, who is young, tells the cavalier, who is older, to “deal with the shadow cultist.” And here we learn that despite their ages, the boy is the uncle to the cavalier.
The cavalier approaches Gideon and tells her that his uncle cannot eat with her kind around, so please leave. Her kind? Meaning people from other houses? Or other competitors? Or redheads in possession of suitcases of dirty magazines?
Whatever they mean, Gideon complies, even though she would like nothing more than to get into a fight. But whatever satisfaction that would bring would not be worth the grief she would get from Harrow for disobeying her orders, even though Harrow is still currently M.I.A (Monstrous in Absentia.)
Gideon moves along and suddenly, but soft, what light from yonder terraced garden breaks? It’s the lovely Dulcinea of the Seventh House, the fainting babe who got Gideon all bloody upon arrival. She’s lounging in the sun, and asks Gideon to help her straighten the back of her chair, and Gideon complies.
Now Gideon can’t speak, not because she isn’t supposed to, but because she is quite taken with Dulcinea. SWOON. And Dulcinea assumes Gideon is a Ninth House nun and that she doesn’t speak, which makes things easier. So Dulcinea prattles on in a one-sided conversation as Gideon makes moon eyes at her behind her mirrored sunglasses.
Until Dulcinea asks her to remove her sunglasses. Gideon is embarrassed and blushing under all her face paint, but she complies, and Dulcinea tells her she has beautiful eyes. She then asks to see Gideon standing with her sword. Gideon also does this, and it takes Dulcinea a matter of seconds to ask if Gideon is used to holding a longsword, because she is holding her rapier all wrong. Probably because she is flustered by Lady Bloody McBatty Eyes.
Embarrassed, Gideon flees, but not before hearing Dulcinea’s cavalier approach and tell her something is shut. No time to figure out what he means – Gideon needs to go back to her room and LiveJournal about her day. “Dear diary, today I got free bread, and I embarrassed myself in front of Dulcinea. OMG I COULD DIEEEEEEEEEEE. Also, I hate salad.”
And that’s the end of chapters nine and ten! Not a lot of action going on in these two chapters, but we learn several things, including:
- The shuttles are definitely gone.
- The Eighth House doesn’t like the Ninth House.
- Dulcinea makes Gideon feel butterflies.
- Boooooo, they still eat salad in the future.
Not all the characters at First House have been named in their appearances yet, but to give you a headstart, or help with the names we already have learned, here is a pronunciation guide that Tamsyn Muir provided in advance of the book’s publication.
Thanks for joining me again today for another episode of Game of Bones! I’ll be back next week with a rundown of chapters eleven and twelve. And get ready, because it’s about to get WEIRD.
Liberty Hardy is a Book Riot senior contributing editor, co-host of All the Books, a Book of the Month judge, and a ravenous reader. She resides in Maine with her cats, Millay, Farrokh, and Zevon. You can see pictures of her cats and her books on Instagram @franzencomesalive.