I don’t necessarily call myself a Leigh Bardugo fan. I read the Grisha trilogy last year and while it wasn’t the most mindblowing YA fantasy out there, it definitely had some elements that I enjoyed. I still need to read her «Six of Crows» duology, which I hope to like better than the original Grisha trilogy.
However, I had very high hopes for «Ninth House». Last year it was one of the most anticipated releases of all bookish community, but then it received a lot of negative reviews – I think people hyped it up more than necessary and were [unpleasanlty] surprised when it turned out to be very different from Leigh Bardugo’s previous work.
Even after finishing this 459 pages monster and sitting on my thoughts for a week, I still can’t decide whether I liked it or not.
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.
If you decide to pick this book up, be aware of the fact that (1) it’s very different from Grisha trilogy or Grisha universe, (2) it reads more like a TV show and (3) it’s very dense!
WHAT I LIKED:
1 – «Ninth House» was like one of those TV shows that you aren’t sure if you’re enjoying, but it’s so addicting you can’t stop watching. First of all, I think this book was made purposefully for a TV adaptation. It will make an amazing, fast-paced paranormal series, and I would love to see it getting picked up by some major production companies. This whole book could be transformed in one season with 10ish episodes, and that would only highlight it’s strength, as the info-dump could be distributed evenly over the episodes.
2 – I’ve never read any paranormal books set at Yale and it was absolutely fascinating! Leigh Bardugo created an entirely new history for New Haven and Yale houses, and oh my, did it require a lot of work! It was incredibly well done. From numerous historical facts to paranormal stories and mysteries, she was able to make me interested in the real history of New Haven, so I had to do a little google search while reading the book.
This doesn’t happen often. In fact, it only happens when I read Dan Brown books, when the fictional story is so interesting and realistic, it makes me want to check the real facts to distinguish fiction and reality.
3 – I’m no expert in paranormal books, but from the ones I read, I noticed that very often we didn’t really get that many paranormal elements, but «Ninth House» was filled with them to the brim. And I particularly loved that even the paranormal world had a lot of rules. There was magical rituals, magical words, magical ingredients, and it all made perfect sense! 😀
The “witchcraft” reminded me of «The Charmed» TV show, which I LOVED during my teen years. I really would love to watch it again one day.
4 – Alex North was an interesting character to follow, and I can’t decide how I feel about her. Even though the book talked about many side-characters, the only character that was well-fleshed was Alex, Galaxy North. In the beginning, we saw her darker qualities and it was almost as if we had to dislike her first, just so Leigh Bardugo could redeem Alex in the second half of the book. Which she totally did, but it was a good “redemption”. She still stayed a gray character, so she didn’t go from bad to good in a couple of pages, but we learned more about her past and that helped us understand more of where she is coming from and why she behaves the way she does.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:
1 – This book was DENSE! I never thought that it would take me so long to finish it. And it also failed to capture my attention to the fullest. It’s like I mentioned before, I wasn’t really loving it, but at the same time, something about the story was too addicting to DNF.
There were too many times during the reading process that I pondered DNFing it, but then kept going. I also am guilty of skimming some parts and even skipping some pages, but hey! I did finish it, I understood everything and I didn’t skip that many. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Because of how long it took me to finish it, and because it wasn’t as captivating as I thought it would be, I’m only giving it 2 stars. I’m still unsure if I should continue reading next books in this series…
Have you read «Ninth House»? What did you think of it?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!