As someone who has never read a Leigh Bardugo book, I will be the first to say that I now know what I have been missing out on and I am very disappointed that I hadn’t picked up one of her books sooner.
Goodreads Summary 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.
Trigger Warning: Ninth House contains graphic themes of sexual assault & continuous mentions drug use.
I went into this novel with no knowledge of the story at all. The only expectations I had was the expectation of an amazing novel, not at all knowing that I would be blown away reading something of quality and calibre I’d never thought possible.
★ Rating ★
I rated this book ★★★★★ (5/5 stars)! If you’ve read this book, you’d completely understand the five stars. If not, I don’t know what else to say to you other than this book is perfect in every way a novel can be perfect.
I was debating not reviewing this one because when I read a book as amazing as this, I just want to keep it to myself, hold it tight and not share it with anyone. But alas, I must spread the good word.
Let’s start by talking about the vibes of this novel. Please don’t hate me for using the word vibes or talking about overall aesthetics of this novel before talking about the writing/ characters/ plot/ etc., but there are seriously strong dark academia vibes.
From the winter weather and the setting in a university campus with its old brick buildings and sources of magical power to the secret undercover societies hidden in darkness beneath layers of administration. The whole book just gave me that comforting feeling of a brown wool coat wrapped around my shoulders as I walk through the winter chill into the foyer of a heated house.
I will admit that at the start, I was a little lost, but as the story progresses you come to realise that every chapter after the first is actually the events leading up to the first chapter. It’s really fascinating to have the story jump back and forth between the past and present, piecing the story together in not only a different time but also a different perspective, whilst still remaining in the third person.
Ninth House is in no way a fast-paced novel. Leigh Bardugo works her but off when it comes to world-building in this novel, developing the scene around Alex as she goes about her day. This aspect allows the reader to grasp the personality and style of other people and Lethe Houses without being directly told.
We follow the story of Alex, though this learning about Lethe and the secret societies within Yale University, discovering the secrets of the main 8 Houses as Alex’s gift means that she is called upon to investigate a murder. Although covered up, Alex believes the murder is something more and won’t stop until it’s solved, even if that means compromising her own safety.
Two events shaped Alex – or Galaxy – Stern. The events of Ground Zero, and those leading up to why she was there to begin with. Both have to do with her gift. Something so powerful that she never understood the full extent of until that fateful day at Ground Zero. Even then, Alex didn’t know how valuable or powerful she was. But Lethe did. There are things in Alex’s past that made her the way she is now. Each fact so artfully and carefully revealed throughout the novel like a tarp being pulled from a monument one inch at a time, until we see the full truth of what happened.
We also learn about Darlington, another major character in this novel. We learn about his past, before meeting Alex, his hopes and dreams, and how he came to be in the position he was in when Alex met him.
I really enjoyed how Ninth House is told in third-person, the story followed both Alex and Darlington at separate points in the timeline and although they were both in a situation where politics was important, neither were involved nor enveloped by it. This made the novel so much more enjoyable to read, not having to deal with petty feuds or dramatic political endeavours.
Ninth House is a murder mystery novel with many layers. Uncovering the truth of more than one murder plus a disappearance and corruption. There are cover-ups and screw-ups left, right and centre. Facades are traded in for fierceness and the good of heart truly do thrive and survive, taking down those trying to win with malice.
*According to Goodreads, the sequel to Ninth House (currently untitled) will be released in June 2021*
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