I’ve had my eye on Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo ever since I read her Grishaverse books earlier this year! I had high hopes for this one, especially since it’s her first adult fiction series. Now I’m anxiously awaiting book #2, because as usual, this one left me with a lot of unanswered questions! Before I keep writing, here’s a little disclaimer: This is NOT a spoiler-free review, so this is your warning! I do want to mention, the significant amount of adult content that could be triggering– sexual assault, PTSD, and other trauma. But if you like dark academia/occult reads, then you should definitely give this a try!
Title: Ninth House
Author: 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.Synopsis from Goodreads
Sometimes, I can’t stand switching timelines. Other times, I totally love it and think it makes the reading experience so much more powerful. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo is definitely the latter. I wasn’t confused at the alternating timelines or POVs at all. Getting the story in little chunks really helped make Alex and Darlington’s stories that much more emotional, in my opinion. I will admit that I was a little lost in the beginning, but that’s only because I had to wade through the magical terms. But I also love being in the dark at the beginning of a book– it makes the reading experience so much better!
Okay, let’s talk about Alex (LOVE that her real name is Galaxy by the way). She is definitely an unlikely heroine so I absolutely love her! Her story isn’t easy to read, but what she went through resonates with a lot of people, and I really appreciated that Bardugo didn’t shy away from uncomfortable topics. One of my favorite things about Alex is her tattoos– I wish she could have kept them throughout the book, but I’m hoping she will take them back in book #2 (btw the whole butterflies soaking up the tattoo ink is way cool!)
And now allow me to gush about Darlington. I realize that this book is about Alex, and that Darlington isn’t the main focus, but I really wanted more from his POV—even though he is “gone” for most of it. Hoping for more in book #2! I loved his attitude toward Alex in the beginning and how their unlikely friendship blossomed. I’m a sucker for a troubled boy with a dark attitude…what can I say?! His story is also tragic, and I can’t wait to read about his experience after being swallowed by the Hellmouth (which I was NOT expecting at all—talk about a plot twist!)
I do have a couple of things that I didn’t love about Ninth House. The first 100 pages or so is definitely challenging to get into. There’s a lot of information dumping, which is totally understandable, but it’s still heavy. Once you understand the world of the book and what’s going on, it gets a lot easier and way more interesting. Also, this might just be me, but I really wanted more about Alex and Darlington’s relationship. I definitely love them as a couple, but I would have liked simply more conversations and a little more friendship building.
Overall, though, Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo is a must-read! I think it’s the perfect book to get you in a spooky mood around Halloween time! I’d love to know what you thought! Any theories about the next book and when it will be published?
“Have power on this dark land to lighten it, and power on this dead world to make it live.”Leigh Bardugo
Looking for more book reviews? Click here to find out what other books I’ve been loving this year!