Ninth Houe is the first book in Leigh Bardugo’s new adult fansty series, Alex Stern. This review will be spoiler-free (other than the trigger warning).
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)
Haunting. Captivating. Deep. Twisted. Mysterious. A dark story that will blow your mind and punch you in the gut.
Leigh Bardugo is a queen. She is extremely talented and she is one of my all-time favorite authors. With that being said, I was really nervous about this book. It is so different from everything else she has written and I didn’t know if it was going to be as good as her other books.
BUT SHE DID IT! This book was pure gold. I loved it so much. The topics that were touched on this book were tough. There is nothing light or fluffy about this book. It took me longer to read than I thought it would because of how heavy it was. I had to take a break in the middle of it.
TRIGGER WARNING! This book comes with a trigger warning. Bardugo said that this book was going to tackle tough topics and that it would not be for everyone. So I am going to put a trigger warning at the bottom. If you do not want spoilers to skip that paragraph.
This book was written from two different points of view and each point of view followed a different timeline. Alex’s timeline was Winter/Spring. Darlington’s timeline was Autumn. I loved that I didn’t get the answers until the end. Each timeline gave me just enough information to keep me going. I tried to hard to put the pieces together, but Bardugo did a good job at keeping me guessing.
“He needed her and she needed him. That was how most disasters began.”
Galaxy “Alex” Stern. She is such an amazing main character. She has a rough background and she had to deal with things that no one else has. She is trying her hardest to change her life and leave her past where it belongs. But it’s not that easy. I loved watching her grow over the course of the novel. She needed to learn to embrace her past.
Darlington. His chapters were some of my favorites. There were a lot less of them than there were of Alex’s chapters, but I think that’s why I looked forward to them. Darlington is a gentleman and he believes in doing what is right. He was curious and determined. He hunted for the magic and when he finally found it, he had found a home.
I will admit that the beginning was a bit slow, but I don’t think it took away from the book. I think that this was the best way to tell the story.
The worldbuilding and the magic system in this book were so complex, but I loved it. Bardugo did a good job of explaining what we needed to know without going into too many details. It really helped that Alex was learning about the world at the same time the reader was.
The settling of this novel was extremely important. The whole story is centered around New Haven and Yale. New Haven is the home to a magic that struggles to exist elsewhere. I have never been to New Haven, but I want to visit now! I want to see Il Bastone.
It should come as no surprise that I absolutely loved this story and gave it 5 out of 5 stars. I HIGHLY recommend this story to everyone that would not be affected by the trigger warning below.
TRIGGER WARNING: blackmail, drug use, overdose, consumption of human waste, violence, blood and gore, physical abuse, murder, self-harm, suicide, death, date-rape drugs, rape of a child, statutory rape, and sexual assault. (There might be more, but I tried to be a thorough as possible.)