5 star, YA

Review: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Alex Stern #1

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.

This one was simply brilliant. A bit longer than the books I normally read, but every bit was worth it. Andge and I both agree on this 5 Drink Me Potions rating, with only one slight knock that we agreed on. How do I even describe this book? It’s an…urban…fantasy…mystery? Elements of history? It’s actually hard to put a finger on, but either way, we absolutely enjoyed it.

Ninth House is about a world where magic is real. But not the kind that you’re thinking of (Expelliarmus!), but much more sinister in nature, with rituals and summonings and illusions. The world building of this fantasy is actually amazing, more amazing than anything I’ve read (about magic) in a long while. A brief introduction is that magic is based around these “tombs” or “nexuses” where magic converges, and each of the eight Houses of the Veil can deploy a specific type of magic using these power points.

Alex Stern, our protagonist, gets sucked into this world in New Haven. Just why was she chosen to become a part of it?

First of all, can I just say that the name Galaxy is amazing. Yes we know her by Alex basically the entire novel, but shortening Galaxy into Alex is pretty cool. And it’s not just for the sake of having a cool name, since names are quite important in this fantastical world. Not only that though, she is a strong-willed character, fiery and fierce, with the will to survive stronger than anything. And with the amount that she’s been through, I don’t blame her at all.

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