[Review] Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo


*I received a copy of this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

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

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.
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I’m still in recovery mode from this book, in both good and bad ways. There is no shortage of trauma in this book, both physical and emotional. Poor Alex just needs a nap. A big, long nap.

Now while I wasn’t instantly hooked by this story, I did end up loving it. I think perhaps I needed more context to work with in the beginning or something, I don’t know. It’s told in seasons and alternates between the past to build towards the present. The way it was told definitely helped build suspense and I loved getting the context.

Now, I didn’t devour this book because it’s a heavy hitter and I had to take time to process quite a few things. There are scenes and mentions of sexual assault throughout the book so a fair warning. Ninth House also deals with themes of consent and victim blaming/shaming. Bardugo definitely doesn’t shy away from tackling trauma and it becomes the foundation for Alex’s story, but she doesn’t let it define her. This book just has so much to say and it’s a pretty powerful survival story. Young Leigh Bardugo fans should tread with caution because this is a far cry from her previous books.

This book does tap into magic, occult, and the supernatural quite a bit, but I’m not going to say much more because I’d hate to spoil anything. But, I will say that there is murder involved.

The ending took a pretty wild, unexpected turn and I’m excited to see where that new path leads! Basically if you’re looking for a story with murder, magic, and mayhem then Leigh Bardugo’s adult debut should be on your list.

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