Welcome back, undead race fans, it’s already time for another close read of Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir! I’m your host, Mamsyn Tuir, and today I’ll be running down chapters seventeen and eighteen. These are teeny chapters, but they pack a lot of punch.
Before we start, just a quick reminder that you should check out these chapters on your own. Otherwise, if at first you do not read, they’ll be spoiled, spoiled again!
Last week, chapter sixteen—and Act Two—ended with Gideon and Harrow finally defeating the scary bone construct monster, only to turn around and find that the Fifth House adepts, Magnus and Abigail, had been turned into body salad at the bottom of the hatch. Which is sad stuff, because they were so nice!
Chapter seventeen opens with most of the necromancers making valiant attempts to bring Magnus and Abigail back to life. Most every house joined Harrow and Gideon as soon as they sounded the alarm about the bodies, and now they’re all there in their pajamas. Gideon is trying not to be too much of an asshole and stare at the ladies in their gauzy nightgowns, but she’s also not too sad that they’re wearing them. Naughty Griddle.
So the necromancers are doing everything they can, together and separately. First a few of them tried blood magic to attract their ghosts, but it didn’t work. Also the teens of the Fourth House, who Magnus had watched over, tried to give a little too much in the throes of their grief.
Harrow is tired and drained from fighting the giant bone monster with Gideon, but she stalks around the bodies in different directions, looking for a solution. Palamedes of the Sixth House is the strongest and most persistent among them at this moment. He has brought flashlights to help illuminate the scene, and is drawing several different diagrams around the bodies to try and rouse them from their final sleep. He only stops for a moment to wrap his robe around the fragile Lady Dulcinea when she joins the group.
On and on this goes, with necromancers coming in and out of the group as they tire, or coming up with new ideas to contribute. At one point, Harrow faints, and Gideon has to drag her away from the scene But Harrow gets right back to work as soon as she wakes up. We know how she gets—bitch extraordinaire or not, she has a fabulous work ethic.
And in another bit of “didn’t see that coming,” the Third House necromancer actually eats bits off her cavalier to help her magic. Not his hand or his ear or anything, just some non-essential parts like fingernails and hair. But still, they’re not my idea of a good midnight snack.
Then the Eighth House adepts arrive and everything changes. Harrow tells them that there is nothing they can do, because she and the others have tried it all, and Silas is all, “Witch, please.” Which rankles Harrow, because as you might remember, the Eighth House are the jerks who told Gideon the Ninth House weren’t allowed to play in the sandbox when they’re using it.
So everyone steps aside, and Silas puts his hand on his nephew-cavalier’s shoulder, and begins to drain him. Because it turns out that Silas is a soul siphoner, and Colum is in the unlucky position of offering up his soul. And as Colum turns more pale, Silas glows brighter and brighter. (You might say he’s a deeper shade of soul…)
And now, not only is he draining Colum, but wacky stuff is happening to everyone else. The lights start to explode and Gideon feels like her insides are being tugged, and her skin is turning gray. Actually, everyone is turning gray. But it’s working, because suddenly Abigail’s body starts to shiver and give off blue sparks. Like when you eat an undead Wint-O-Green Life Saver in the dark.
Can Silas actually get Abigail to a place where she’s alive, or can at least tell them what happened? Who knows, because his soul-sucking causes Lady Dulcinea to faint. Which pisses off her cavalier, Protesilaus, so he steps forward and punches Silas out. This effectively stops his magic, and the lights come back up and people start feeling normal again almost immediately. Except poor Colum, who is now in suspended animation and just stands there.
Lady Dulcinea is horrified as Protesilaus stands over Silas, ready to stab him if he tries to get up. And it’s at this moment that Teacher shows up, and is also horrified. He explains that if Silas drains someone down here, they could become a host for something else nasty that is hanging around. He insists they bring the bodies upstairs.
Palamedes objects, and even Camilla tries to tell him they are fine investigating what happened where they are. But for probably the first time since they met him, Teacher is somber, and tells them to haul ass upstairs ASAP. You know it’s serious when the giggly Walmart greeter of Hill House is scared. Best get a move on.
It takes them an hour to scrape the bodies together and and haul them, along with an unresponsive Colum, up the ladder and out of the hatch. Even with the help of Harrow’s magicked skeletons. Colum is slightly less gray now, but not moving, so he is set aside with a bowl of burning herbs to try and revive him.
We learn that the Second House are the ones that went and tattled to Teacher that the other kids were playing with dead things. They are also insisting that Teacher allow them to get military reinforcements from the Second House, since there is something deadly about. And they want to contact Fifth House to let them know about the murder.
Teacher is all, “Murder? There has been no murder.” Even though they all just saw the Fifth House adepts smooshed on the floor. But Teacher explains to them that he tried telling them that there were monsters down there when they asked for permission. (Remember all the winking?) And that’s all it is, monsters, yup, say no more.
Captain Deuteros of the Second House says that regardless, authorities should be notified of their deaths, but Teacher again says nuh-uh. There is to be no communication with the outside world at this time. The captain threatens to take command of the trial, but she’s shot down by Coronabeth, who tells her she has no authority.
They now all begin to squabble and have a pissing contest over who is the highest ranking person in the house, and in what situation do they have the right to be in charge, and why would anyone murder the Fifth House so maybe calm down. Coronabeth even suggests that the Ninth left that hatch open and the Fifth fell to their deaths.
Harrow is not amused and shuts her right down. She’s positive they closed the hatch. So then they start counting keys. Who had access to the hatch? Turns out, just about everyone, but Silas once again tries to lay the blame on the Ninth House, and Harrow threatens to blacken his other eye.
Lady Dulcinea takes this time to profusely apologize for the way her cavalier behaved. Silas says sure, but his cavalier is still going to have to duel her cavalier over the assault. Coronobeth tells everyone to shut up before the arguing can start again. She tells them they need to trust one another, and that they should agree to the assumption that Magnus and Abigail were killed by a monster.
If it is a monster, it must be hunted. Isaac of the Fourth House insists he can’t go home until they find it and kill it. Palamedes tells them no, it is better to find it first with science, so it doesn’t hurt anyone else, and that they should share information about what they have found in the house to help each other out.
Harrow, share? Why, she could never, and says as much. Palamedes clarifies: simply tell the other adepts if they find anything else that could cause them harm, like a group of scary ghosts or another big-ass bone construct.
Teacher reminds them they need to take a count of all the keys to the scary place. It turns out, Ianthe of the Third House also had one, and neither her cavalier or her twin knew, so they are MIFFED.
The little assembly breaks up and most everyone heads off to bed. Palamedes isn’t tired yet, so he wants to look over the bodies again for clues. But not before he takes Harrow aside to have a chat. Teacher and Silas study Colum, and speculate on when he’s going to recover his senses, and Gideon watched, until Jeannemary tugs on her wrist.
The Fourth House teen is very distraught, and implores Gideon to tell her anything else she might know to help her find who killed Magnus and Abigail. She doesn’t seem to think it’s an accident, as Abigail hated heights. Speaking out loud for the first time to the girl, Gideon tells her how sorry she is, because she doesn’t know anything.
And then suddenly Colum snaps back into his body and interrupts whatever else Jeannemary was going to tell her. Harrow rounds her up, and on the way back to their rooms, Harrow restates how she’s going to win, and that she and Gideon will open that secret door tomorrow. Because who wants to be cautious when the possibility of immortality is on the line?
And that brings chapters seventeen and eighteen to a close.
- The necromancers unsuccessfully tried to bring the dead Fifth House adepts back.
- Silas turns out to be a soul siphoner
- Teacher is angry that they were playing with dead things downstairs
- The remaining adepts agree to be more cautious
- But Harrow is totally still planning to disregard her and Gideon’s safety in order to win the tournament
What will Harrow and Gideon find behind the secret door??? Stay tuned as next week when we revisit chapters nineteen and twenty! Same soul-sucking time, same soul-sucking channel.
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.