Leigh Bardugo – Ninth House

Bardugo's first foray into adult literature is a compelling winner

The NYT bestselling author is well versed in the world of fantasy, as her highly successful Grishaverse can attest to. Ninth House, however, is slightly outside of what she has accustomed us to, taking a darker, more paranormal turn in what is her first novel outside of YA.

Alex Stern, the protagonist (sharing POV duties with her mentor, Darlington), might be considered unlikeable, but she is an incredibly layered woman, carrying with her the weight of being a sexual assault survivor and the ability to see ghosts. With a background of drug-dealing to help her live with her demons, Alex is initiated into a world of secret Yale societies, where the rich and powerful-to-be draw power from their 'tombs' to perform occult rituals. Alex's new job is to monitor these activities, until a young girl's body is found near campus, and her gut tells her the societies are to blame.

Regardless of reader age recommendations, there is no doubt that Bardugo is an incredibly skilled writer, who can breathe life into her tales with seemingly effortless ease. It's evident that the setting of Yale is very familiar to her (as an alumna of the university), which translates into a very vivid prose.

Ninth House is relatively slow out of the gate, slugging along as the world of the secret societies is set, but it quickly picks up pace as mysteries requiring solving appear (perhaps one too many). Nevertheless, Alex's story is one definitely worth reading.

Out now via Gollancz.

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