A Review of: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo (Hales' Tavern)
Updated: Sep 8, 2020
Genre: Adult fantasy/mystery
Set in Yale, the novel follows Galaxy ‘Alex’ Stern who has the ability to see Grays (ghosts). She has a troubled past but is offered a new beginning if she joins Lethe and is tasked with monitoring the activities of the underground magical societies of Yale. The novel revolves around the mystery of who killed a local girl, Tara.
Bardugo has a talent for writing morally gray (no pun intended) characters and getting you to care about them. She succeeds in this with Alex, who as the novel unfolds we learn more and more about. She is a layered character who I felt quite invested in despite her troubled past.
The other main character was Alex’s mentor, Darlington, and while my initial impression of him as a pompous ass eventually softened, I never felt any emotional attachment to him.
The other characters that really stood out to me were Detective Turner and fellow Lethe member Dawes who demonstrated a tremendous amount of growth throughout the novel.
The novel is told from the third person perspectives of Alex and Darlington. It switches from present day (early winter) to past (fall). Some might find this confusing, though I found it effective given the mystery aspect of the novel. I liked how not all the answers were handed to me right away as a reader.
I felt the novel had overall good pacing. Again, some may find it a bit disjointed, but it held my attention the entire way through and I never felt bored.
I would rate this novel 9/10. As mentioned before, one of Bardugo’s strengths is character building. Another is world building. This novel was a wonderful mixture of both of those. This book is definitely not for everyone, however, as some might find it triggering as the novel includes depictions of drug overdose, abusive relationships, and rape.