Review of Ninth House (Alex Stern #1) by Leigh Bardugo
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I listened to the audiobook last year and forgot to post this review!
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.
Leigh has done is again. This book is a love letter to the other side, the occult, to all of us who wish we could step beyond the veil, see the unseen.
I had worried I would have issues getting into Ninth House. There are so many mixed reviews. However, I didn’t have an issue. Ninth House grabbed me and swept me up in Alex, Darlington and Dawe’s world without a glance in the other direction.
Ninth House IS non-linear. Pay attention to the chapter headings so you know where in the story you’re at. It jumps between two times for most of the story with flashbacks and such interspersed within those. I listened to the audiobook (it’s fantastic BTW) and it’s not the type of book you can zone out on for a minute and still understand what is happening. Do that and you’ll be lost. Each chapter is like another puzzle piece sliding into place to create a larger story. Once you get to a certain point it’s like the pieces start flooding you and the story really starts to click in.
I loved the characters, their ferocity, their desire for knowledge, their unyielding determination to see this through to the end. Ninth House left me with a lot to unpack and I have so many theories about what comes next! First and foremost though, Darlington is my cinnamon roll and I must protecc him.
I know there is a lot of contention over the content of Ninth House. I’ve read all of the trigger warnings and they are accurate. However I didn’t find any of the content to be any worse or detailed than an adult thriller. It is NOT a YA book, we all know that. It is not suitable for some audiences. However the adult content was not as gruesome as I feel some have portrayed it out to be. Of course, perception is in the eye of the beholder. Please read the trigger warnings and take heed if you feel this is something that will affect you. If you’re not sure about some particular content, feel free to message me and we can talk about it! I’d be happy to help you figure out if it’s something you should read or skip.
Overall, Ninth House really is a fascinating book and I’m in awe of this world Leigh has carved out of our own. When I was a teenager I was obsessed with the universities at Yale and the idea that they dealt in occult rituals. I probably never could have gotten in, but I wanted to attend Yale so badly just so I could be around them myself. Ninth House is all of my teenage musings made manifest.
Soooooo now the question is, how long must I suffer until book two? 😂
Order Ninth House from these booksellers