Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Alex Stern #1
Hardcover, 459 pages
Publication: October 8, 2019 by Berkley
Source: Personal Library
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.
Ninth House is my 2nd Bardugo novel, the 1st was Shadow and Bone. I was a bit hesitant starting Ninth House and had low expectations since I didn’t really like Shadow and Bone . After learning ‘Grisha’ translated to ‘Gregory’ I couldn’t take the series seriously or continue knowing how silly that was. However, I am a fan of secret societies, ghosts, and flawed protagonists/characters and Ninth House had it all.
I liked that Ninth House was an Urban Fantasy, full of supernatural magic and grounded in our world. Alex our main heroine was not your typical leading lady. Alex’s home life was anything but normal and stable; her mom was more familiar with the bottom of a bottle than her own daughter. Which wasn’t surprising that Alex went down the wrong path of dealing drugs and participating in other unsavory jobs. Which led to her arrest and jail time. But thanks to her ability to commune with spirits, Alex received a second chance at life.
Ninth House takes place in the past and present. Winter and Spring with alternating chapter narration of Alex and Darlington (her mentor). Like most novels, the premise revolved around a murder and finding the guilty party. With a second premise of the mysterious disappearance of Darlington. Readers follows Alex as she navigated uncharted waters of college life, ghosts, ghouls, secret societies and the powerful people backing them.
I like Alex. She unapologetic in who she is, gets shit done and ask for forgiveness after. She’s far from perfect and does a lot of questionable things, but I kinda like it that way…it’s more realistic and familiar. The magic system is pretty straightforward. Alex is descended from a line of witches (?) with the power to see ghosts and travel through dimensions. And many of the secret societies dabbled in the occult and alchemy, each with their own specialties.
Overall Ninth House was a solid introduction to a new series. Although I thought Ninth House was over hyped considering this is Bardugo’s foray into Adult territory. It was also stated that this is a horror novel, but I didn’t get that vibe. The book was good but nothing new or unique. I like it and am curious enough to read the sequel when it comes out. If you’re curious, like myself, I suggest borrowing from the library or friend.