Book Review: Ninth House by 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.

If she’d been a social butterfly, they would have said she liked to drink away her pain. If she’d been a straight-A student, they would have said she’d been eaten alive by her perfectionism. There were always excuses for why girls died.

Before starting Ninth House I wasn’t sure how much magic to expect from the novel. I knew that it mentioned secret societies and occult activities but I wasn’t entirely sure where these would go; whether the magic would be something that you could see or ritualistic; whether the main character would believe in such things or not. So to pick up this book and receive a world where there were many different societies, each specializing in different types of magic, and where ghosts walked the earth was a rather pleasant surprise. The magical and mystical worked superbly within the pages of Ninth House and I absolutely adored the world that Leigh Bardugo created. Academia blended with the supernatural so seamlessly that it felt like a world that truly could exist. The writing was brilliant too although I will admit that at the start of the novel there were quite a lot of references that I couldn’t place and as a result it did take me a little while to get into the flow of the story. Once I was hooked it was hard to put this book down though.

The characters in this book were wonderfully well thought out and developed. Alex was a bit hard to relate to at times, perhaps due to how she hid her true self away, but I definitely felt for her given everything that she’d endured over the years. I loved the way that she wanted to stand up for ‘girls like her’. All of her past – everything that made her the person that she is today – was just terrifically well thought out and detailed too. My favourite character was definitely Darlington; somehow over the course of the novel I came to love his character so much. And with time I came to enjoy Dawes character too, along with several other surprising individuals. The villains from this book deserve a mention too because they were just superb. Like the other characters they were well written with fleshed out motivations and, when shared, interesting back stories.

The story itself was incredibly well plotted and thought out. Everything came together in a way that I wouldn’t have seen coming and kept me guessing from page one. As stated above once I was hooked it was hard to put this book down and that’s so true – once the story got going this book was utterly compelling. The plot, the characters, the magic… everything just came together so wonderfully. I loved learning about Lethe and the other houses; I love reading snippets of their history too. This book is incredibly dark at times though too so please bare that in mind and, if you have any triggers, I’d definitely recommend checking out the trigger warnings.

Altogether I thoroughly enjoyed reading Ninth House and found myself glued to its pages, wanting to unravel exactly what was going on. After the ending I definitely can’t wait for book two to come out, I have a feeling that with it’s possible setting it’ll be even more addictive than the first book in the series. So yes I recommend this book if you’re looking for a dark, atmospheric mystery with a surprisingly varied cast of characters.

Check out Ninth House on Goodreads here.

I’m aware that some people may find these warnings potentially spoiling so click the link below if you want to know them in advance. Also sorry if I missed any; I have tried to at least include the ones that majorly stood out to me.

Trigger Warnings:Sexual Assault, Rape (including of a minor), Drug Use, Overdoses, Consumption Of Bodily Fluids, Death, Murder, Drowning & Extreme Violence/Gore.

I strive to keep my reviews completely spoiler free but if anyone wants to discuss anything about the book in more detail (or just give me an excuse to gush about it) then feel free to contact me in the comment section below.


8 thoughts on “Book Review: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

    1. Thank you (: I saw some fairly mixed reviews but held off on reading any until I had a chance to read the book as I wanted to go into it knowing as little as possible. I was worried by the mixed ratings though and can understand them given some of the dark content and at the start it did take me a little while to get into but the story was so compelling once I was hooked (:

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This is going to be one of my reads soon, and I’m so glad to hear see such a positive review. I too have been seeing some fairly mixed opinions so I’ll be going in with my expectations tempered, but I think I’ll probably enjoy this based on some of things here!

    Liked by 1 person

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