Series: Alex Stern #1
Written by: Leigh Bardugo
Published: October 15, 2019 by Flatiron Books (Macmillan)
Synopsis: 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.
The mesmerizing adult debut from #1 New York Times bestselling author Leigh Bardugo.
If you were not aware, I am a huge fan of Leigh Bardugo’s books. I have read, and loved, every single one of them. So I was extra excited when I heard she was coming out with a new Adult book that was about secret societies and ghosts. And seriously, you guys, this book did not disappoint. Ninth House was everything I wanted it to be and more.
First and foremost, I absolutely loved the plot development of this book. There were so many elements to this story and they all worked together to create something truly fascinating. This was one of those books with a complex and intriguing mystery which elements that slowly unfold throughout the story. I usually consider myself really good at figuring out mysteries but this one truly stumped me. I had no idea what was happening until the big reveal. And it’s not that there weren’t clues, there was just so many elements that you needed to know them all first. Leigh masterfully unraveled the mystery here and it truly had me on the edge of my seat.
Another fantastic thing about this book was the world. This is the perfect book to read during the Halloween and fall season because it really had amazing atmosphere. The main character of Alex can see ghosts so of course they were a huge element of the story but the magic and supernatural elements does not stop there. Each secret society has their own magic which is tied to their house. We only got the barest hint of each of their powers but I was fascinated by them. But we also only got a little of Alex’s powers as well. I don’t want to give too much away but there is so much more to explore in the next book.
Part of what made to world fantastic was the setting. I absolutely loved the New Haven and Yale setting. As a New Englander, I love books set in New England. But honestly, you don’t really see many books about New Haven. And after this book, I don’t really understand why. There is so much to this city and it made for the perfect setting for this book. First of all, there is the real ghost stories and unexplained phenomena of the city. I wonder how much research Leigh did into these elements. I know she went to Yale and was a part of a secret society but it is the actual history of the city that interested me most. I wonder how much of these are real those stories from New Haven. It for sure makes me want to go on a ghost tour the next time I am there. But the other thing that made this city a good setting for this book is the dichotomy between the haves and have nots. Most New England cities with Ivy League colleges have an element of that and I love the way it was explored in this book. It made for one more complex and engaging element of the book.
As far as the characters, this is one more example as to how good Leigh is at doing dark and odious characters. So many of the secondary characters were terrible people doing terrible things, which honestly was something I love. Then you have the main character Alex, who is one of those unlikable female protagonists that I love so much. She is prickly and sullen with a tortured past that she is still trying to get over. She’s not the kind of person you really want to relate to, but you can’t help but do it. I was definitely rooting for her, even when she was making stupid and sometimes self-destructive choices. Darlington, however, was easy to like. He’s charming and intelligent. My friend Pili pointed out that he has Gansey vibes and she is totally right. He is the kind of person who wants there to be magic in the world and is looking for it. They were great fools for one another and therefore made a great team. And honestly, I’m so glad there wasn’t a romantic element to their relationship. It didn’t need it, and I didn’t miss it. The characters here really were fantastic and complex.
Seriously, this book was so amazing. I have heard nothing but great things and I am not at all surprised I loved it. Leigh is a master storyteller and she did just as amazing job with an Adult paranormal mystery as does with YA high fantasy. This book was brilliant, dark, and complex.
I give Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo 9.5 out of 10 stars