Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Susanne’s Review:

Atmospheric, Dark, Eerie, Fantastical and Mystical.

When Alex Stern arrives at Yale University in New Haven, CT, her past is just one of the many things she simply cannot escape. The Grays are the other.

Alex is quite special you see and that is why she is recruited. Alex has a very unique ability to see the “Grays” also known as ghosts, who surround everyone without our knowing it. For this she is desperately needed by the House of Lethe and Darlington. Darlington becomes her mentor, teaching her about Yale’s Secret Societies, each of their unique abilities and how to harness them.

As if that wasn’t enough for Alex to handle, Darlington suddenly disappears.

Thereafter, of course it goes from bad to worse.

A woman is killed on campus and while she doesn’t appear to be affiliated with the societies, looks may just be deceiving. Without Darlington, Alex takes it upon herself to investigate. This causes a disruption with the Dean, the Societies and of course, with the Grays.

Fantastical, spooky and vibrant, “Ninth House” spoke to me. The storyline is enveloping, intriguing and preternatural. What made this book even more compelling is that the Secret Societies at Yale do in fact exist, which admittedly led me to do a little research (including how many there truly are, how long they have been around, membership rituals and which famous people have been “members”). This character-driven fiction/fantasy drew me in because of the wild storyline and of course the characters of Alex, Darlington and Dawes (the House of Lethe Research Assistant), whose characters were expertly crafted and were wholly compelling in different ways.

Something else I truly appreciated about this novel is that it took place at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, (where the author, Leigh Bardugo obtained an undergraduate degree). Having grown up in Woodbridge, Connecticut, (fifteen minutes from New Haven) and having gone to school and having worked in New Haven for a number of years, I know a lot about the City and all of the old haunts (no pun intended), cross streets and pubs, etc., referenced in the book and incredibly, the author got all of them exactly right. Oftentimes authors make up towns in Connecticut when writing books that take place there, for fear of getting something wrong, so reading this book and reminiscing about The New Haven Green and Yorkside Pizza was a pure delight.

“Ninth House” of course, ended with a bit of a cliffhanger, leaving me wanting and waiting desperately for more. I will, of course, be reaching for the sequel as soon as it’s out.

Thank you to my local library for loaning me a copy of the audiobook, which was narrated by Lauren Fortgang and Michael David Axtell both of whom were brilliant.

Published on Goodreads on 1.17.21.

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