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Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo: a book review

a concoction of magic-horror-murder mystery

What happens when you pick up a genre that you are not accustomed to just because of an author who published her first book of that genre. You and your favourite author are on a journey together to justify the time and efforts of each other. When I went through the blurb of “Ninth house” I knew I would love it. And I loved it too, but then it’s just not enough like her other books. Of course I was comparing this one with “Six of crows” duology, which is very wrong as a reader but it’s a reflex to compare works by the same author.

To begin with, “Ninth house” is one of the societies of Yale University and deals with magic, spirits and everything dark. Perfect dark academia! The main character Alex has a lot of layers that give a dark and evil tone to her, which almost reminds me of Dorian grey. Darlington who is such a powerful and sharp counterpart, his presence throughout the book was more like a comet, the moment it intensified, he just vanished from the plot. I understand that this is the first book of the series (hopefully) and there will be ample chances to navigate through the relationship between Darlington and Alex in future. While there were so many options and excuses to explore her as a character but they still seemed little. Leigh Bardugo is a sheer genius when it comes to combining real world with fantasy. The vivid description of the architectures and lanes of Yale university when combined with the magical dark world never felt unreal. I also think that the main theme of the book, dark magic isn’t well expressed and loosens pretty fast. Reading this book was like a half cast spell, it was there but just not enough to hold it together. At times it picked up a rapid pace and then the chapter slowed down to a point where it seemed like a dead end.

Talking about the trauma that Alex faces as a child, be it the drug abuse, bullying, is something to ponder upon. School and friendships are supposed to be cherished yet they are most unsafe and unwelcomed there. The plot in Ninth house is no doubt a complicated and gritty one but it is not well executed if we compare it with the previous work of the same author. I am extremely biased towards Leigh Bardugo. Her mastery is in the art of storytelling and Worldbuilding. As an author she puts a lot of efforts in her works. From maps, historical facts, character detailing to cover arts and almost everything else. To me reading Leigh Bardugo’s work has always been a refresher. It is something that always kicks my adrenaline and that was the whole purpose of picking up this book in between all the heavy nonfiction books that I usually read.

Ninth house becomes overwhelming at times because of the number of characters that one has to deal with. This polarizes the audiences very much. Some may love it and some might hate it but no one can deny the fact that the story in itself is very interesting. If you cross the first 100 pages, you might actually start liking the book. The author has made sure that the book has dark themes. It is filled with gore depiction of scenes, rapes, drugs and what not. And all of this is set in Yale which is already very famous for its secret societies. It is the first part of a probable series and also the debut adult novel of the author. I know that I have missed a lot of the information and I do not want to give up on this book. This definitely needs a second read.


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 homicides. 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 published by Flatiron book and to buy your copy, click here.


Leigh Bardugo is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of fantasy novels and the creator of the Grishaverse (coming soon to Netflix) which spans the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, the Six of Crows Duology, The Language of Thorns, and King of Scars— with more to come. Her short stories can be found in multiple anthologies, including the Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy. Her other works include Wonder Woman: Warbringer and Ninth House (Goodreads Choice Winner for Best Fantasy 2019) which is being developed for television by Amazon Studios. Leigh was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Southern California, and graduated from Yale University. These days she lives and writes in Los Angeles.

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