Wednesday, September 25, 2019

ARC Review: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Title: Ninth House (Ninth House #1)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
Publisher: Flatiron
Pages: 480
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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.

Ninth House seemed to come out of absolutely nowhere and then it was impossible to escape. I knew I had to have it before I even knew what it was about. Honestly, I was a bit worried after not loving Six of Crows or King of Scars, but I was more than willing to give Leigh Bardugo another chance and I am so, SO glad I did! Ninth House is wholly unlike anything else Leigh Bardugo has written and (spoiler) I loved it!

First things first, this is NOT a YA book by any stretch of the imagination. Ninth House deals with some extremely dark, graphic topics and readers should certainly be aware of that. Other reviewers have listed trigger warnings so I won't do that here to avoid spoilers, but definitely go check them out if you feel like you may need them.

This dark, adult novel follows Alex Stern, a girl who would never have gotten into Yale without a very unique gift - she can see ghosts. The ninth secret society house of Yale, Lethe House, offers her a full ride in exchange for her services and she takes them up on their offer, throwing her into a dark world she never guessed existed. I wasn't too sure about Alex at first, but she quickly grew on me and I loved her by the end. I also adored the other characters of Lethe House, especially Dawes.

It's hard to know what to say and what to leave out in this review because this book is so cram packed with magic and mystery and conspiracy, but I think it's best to reveal very little about the plot. Suffice it to say this story will keep you guessing. It's written in alternating chapters between past and present and I loved the way this style of writing kept me in the dark for so long.

If you've read Leigh Bardugo before, then you know this is a book that brings you right into its pages. Although the setting of Ninth House is Yale, it feels like so much more than that. It's spooky and dangerous and I felt like I was there on the street with Alex looking into the cemetery. The world building is exactly what you'd expect from Leigh.

Ninth House is an incredibly atmospheric, magical, and gritty novel full of twists and turns. I absolutely loved this story and cannot wait to get my hands on the sequel!