Book: Ninth House (Alex Stern 1) by Leigh Bardugo
Release Date: October 8th 2019
Tags: Adult | Fantasy | Urban Fantasy | Paranormal | Murder Mystery | Magic | Rituals | Ghosts
Trigger/Content Warnings: Rape of a Child | Sexual Assault | Drowning | Violence | Gore | Drug Addiction | Drug Overdose | Death | Suicide | Blackmail | Self-harm | Ghost Inhabitation
Other books by this author I reviewed
Shadow and Bone | Siege and Storm
Six of Crows | Crooked Kingdom
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. In fact, by age twenty, 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 prestigious universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?
Still searching for answers, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. Their eight windowless “tombs” are the well-known haunts of the rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street’s biggest players. But their occult activities are more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive. They tamper with forbidden magic. They raise the dead. And, sometimes, they prey on the living.
Yes I did finally pick up Ninth House.
Ninth House follows the story of Alex Stern who is taken into Yale for her abbilities. She can see ghosts, or grays as they are reffered to in this book, naturally. Under the roof of Yale 8 houses are housed who can do magical things and do magical rituals. She joins the Ninth House that is there to control the other 8. They keep watch on the rituals and work together with the police to make sure the big 8 don’t make victims.
The start to this book is a little messy and hard to follow. We start with the present and then move into two past timelines. One that follows Alex in the Winter towards the Spring and the other follows Darlington as he mentors Alex until the start of Alex’s winter timeline. It was also hard to follow because I had so little clue as to what was actually going on and what Alex was doing. But as we continue throughout the story the pieces start falling together. And I do like when that happens in stories.
Alex is our main characters despite that we also follow Darlington. She is tough, having had to survive where she did. Seeing ghosts as a child was not easy on her and she turned to drugs and a drug dealer to deal with that. She ended up running away from home because she couldn’t deal with turning on her mother like that. She just did whatever she had to, to survive. As a result she is very guarded and even to me as a reader she feels very guarded. So I was glad that at the start we did also have the story of Darlington weaved through. He was a breath of fresh air for a while, until we got to know Alex better.
Even so I do have a preference for the side characters like Darlington more than Alex. Maybe it is because I can see a light with those characters and it is hard to find a light with Alex. Maybe feelings wise I just didn’t want to commit to Alex because I knew it would hurt. Regardless I was more drawn to Darlington, Dawes and her roommates. I especially loved seeing the development of the Alex and Dawes friendship develop in the second half of the book.
As you might have picked up from the trigger warnings at the top, this book deals with a lot of heavy themes. It can make for a hard read at times and Alex isn’t a character you will always be agreeing with. She makes ‘interesting’ choices. So be very aware of that when you do pick up this book.
Despite that I did enjoy this book. It sucked me in once I was able to get through the messy start.