For nearly two hundred years, eight secret societies of Yale University have operated from the shadows – serving the interests of the elite and shaping the course of history.
The Ninth House is tasked with policing them – until the murder of a young woman throws this carefully hidden world of privilege, power and the occult into chaos …
Publishes 1st October 2019
Leigh Bardugo is a No. 1 New York Times bestselling Author of fantasy novels and short stories. She was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University. These days she lives and writes in Los Angeles.
What I Thought
I was super lucky to get to read this hotly anticipated adult novel by Leigh Bardugo way before its October release. Thanks go to the superstars from #Orionontour in Dorchester. What follows is my honest review.
Having enjoyed Leigh’s Grisha series and being oddly fascinated by secret societies, especially since watching the film The Skulls 19 years ago! I went in expecting to enjoy this. And I did.
Our main protagonist is Alex “not short for Alexandra” Stern, who has been invited to enter the Ninth House. Head hunted if you like, thanks to her unique ability to see Grays (ghosts) without the need to ingest toxic concoctions.
The story is based at Yale University where their real life secret societies have long been shrouded by mystery and have produced an influential person or twenty.
Bardugo imagines that the occult is behind their success (or does she 😉🤐) and the Ninth House – Lethe – is the society that polices the others. They make sure rules and rituals are followed and ensure that hopefully no one dies.
Lethe has its own hierarchy, and Alex – codename Dante, works most closely with her Virgil, Darlington and their Oculus, Dawes. There’s also Turner a member of the police who gets his eyes wide opened whilst working the murder.
The book switches forward and back in time and contains a number of mysteries that both Alex, and us as readers, must solve.
What happened at Alex’s Ground Zero? Who killed the town girl on a society ritual night? What does the murderous ghost called the Bridegroom want with Alex? Where did my favourite character go?
I found it straightforward to follow what was happening, but it is a gradual unpicking so those that like quick answers might get a little frustrated as all the different threads are weaved over the course of many years.
Alex is also a student so she has to attend classes, write papers, earn money, keep her secret life hidden from her buddies and sometimes even go to parties. Note: Trigger warning for rape and sexual assault and some fairly satisfying, if gross revenge for the latter.
I really enjoyed the relationships Alex has with those around her, in particular how her and Dawes start working together after a frosty beginning. Alex herself is complex, and is definitely hiding things. Is she a hero or an anti-hero?
My only slight complaint was the absence of a character I wanted more of in the present narrative, but hey I’m definitely up for impatiently waiting for book two’s release.
Vibes I got from this book: The Skulls, Flatliners, a much darker Ghost Whisperer, Dollhouse, Supernatural, Shadowhunters, Vicious. All things I love.
Ninth House opens up an exciting new urban fantasy world for an ongoing series full of privileged and unprincipled societies, ghosts, the occult and complex characters. I was invited. I’m staying.