Book Reviews

Book Review: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?
Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

Title: Ninth House
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Format: Hardcover
Publication Date: October 8th, 2019


Rating: 4.8//5 Owls

Whoo hoo! Bardugo’s transition from young adult to adult is finally here and she killed it!

This book starts out a little bit slow, we get a lot of descriptions about Yale, the campus, the secret societies, and who Alex Stern is. There’s a lot to impact right away, and it makes it a little bit difficult to get immersed into Alex’s world and who Darlington is.

It was fascinating to see this real world place, full of culture and history and well known secret societies, with this dangerous world of magic thrown it. It got me picturing well known members of some these societies, such as President Bush (both of them), Jodie Foster, and Anderson Cooper doing some creepy ass magic.

And you know what? I’m kind of here for it.

This world of magic is so incredible. It involves creepy as hell rituals to gain knowledge, creativity, and power. Its a crazy world, one that is controlled by the house of Lethe, who oversea the rituals and hold back the tide of “Grays” and other unworldly beings.

Have power on this dark land to lighten it, and power on this dead world to make it live

Our main cast is:

Galaxy Stern – the 20 year old druggy who has the power to see Grays, a task that’s usually accomplished by a dangerous elixir. Because of her unnatural ability, she gets accepted into Yale to be the new Dante of Lethe.

I absolutely adored Alex. She’s a very troubled character, the drug addiction, a high school dropout, and the mysterious deaths that landed her unscathed in the hospital, there’s A LOT to unpack here. But as you learn more about Alex’s past, how she came to be the person that she is, you can’t help but fall in love with her. She has her share of troubles yes, but she also see’s actual ghosts ever. single. day. Her encounters with these ghosts have shaped who she is, what she’s done to diminish them, the horrible things they’ve done to her, and how other people have reacted to her “abilities”.

Can you even imagine? If someone told you they can see ghosts, would you believe them? If they told you a ghost touched them, or that a ghost scared them, would you believe a word they were saying? I honestly don’t think I would.

Life has thrown Alex to the wolves, and she’s survived by the skin of her teeth, and you can’t help but admire her for that.

Then there’s Darlington. The Virgil to Alex’s Dante. Her mentor, the Gentleman of Lethe, the golden boy. Darlington is smart, a New Haven native, and in love with magic. There’s not a whole lot of Darlington. He’s prominent in the flashbacks of when Alex first gets to Lethe, but he mysteriously disappears. Because of this I wasn’t super into him as a character. I get his importance, and I’m interested in how he gets developed further, but he’s definitely not my favorite character.

Then we have characters like Dawes and Turner, who are essentially Alex’s sidekicks and I truly love them both.

The plot starts off a little slow – the story weaves between Alex’s present day, the fall when she started school, and her past before Yale. It makes it a little difficult to truly get into the story at first, just when I felt I had a grasp on the narrative, it would change timelines once again. There’s a lot going on with every page, but at the same time, it felt like nothing was going on at all.

She’s sealed herself away from the world of the living, for the sake of being free of the dead

We were shown a lot of Alex’s everyday life, which tends to get a little dull and repetitive: Alex does normal, boring things; oh look! a ghosty and some drama! oh look, more boring, normal things.

I put this book down A LOT. Not because I didn’t want to read it or was debating putting it down for good, but just because it was easy to do. It wasn’t a fast-paced action packed story, which is something I feel like I’ve started to expect from Bardugo.

But then we get towards the end – and there’s all the awesome, fast paced, cliffhanger action that I needed. There’s grand reveals, surprising twists, demons, and so much more that I wasn’t expecting but fit in perfectly with the story.

I cannot wait for the next book, and I really hope Bardugo continues to branch out in the future. Although I still think of Six of Crows is my favorite book of hers, this one definitely didn’t disappoint.

Have you read Ninth House yet? What did you think?

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo”

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