The mesmerizing adult debut from #1 New York Times bestselling author Leigh Bardugo
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, 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, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale's secret societies, well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than she ever imagined . . .
Welcome to a world of secret societies and the occult that's perfect for fans of Deborah Harkness, Neil Gaiman, Susanna Clarke and Ben Aaronovitch.
Staff Review by Olivia Fricot
After a long stint as one of young adult fantasy’s most popular authors, Leigh Bardugo is taking a bold step into adult fiction with Ninth House, the first book in a dark fantasy series that has style and grit in spades. Intricately plotted with secret societies, black magic, murder, and enough demons to keep things interesting, it’s The Secret History by way of Shirley Jackson and Deborah Harkness.
The reluctant hero of Ninth House is Galaxy ‘Alex’ Stern, a young woman who has literally been haunted since the day she was born. After years lost to drug addiction, Alex wakes up as the only survivor of a horrific multiple homicide, but instead of facing police questions or a stint in rehab, she is offered a chance at redemption with a full scholarship to Yale University.
She must join the guardians of Lethe House, an ancient society guarding an intricate network of eight other “houses” that dabble in dark magic. These houses, versed in arts such as portal magic and necromancy, have sunk their teeth into the innermost workings of the world and the events that have shaped it. As ill at ease with dark magic as she is with the ways in which it mixes seamlessly with the privilege enjoyed by Yale’s elite, Alex proves to be a less-than-perfect fit as a Lethe guardian. But her mentor Daniel has disappeared and the body of a young woman from town has turned up on campus, leaving her with no choice but to start digging (even if it means she might get herself killed).
Ninth House is by far my favourite book by Leigh Bardugo. She has melded together elements of crime fiction, fantasy, and horror to create a ghost story that bites - one scene is so terrifying that I still can’t think about it without shuddering. While the book can be intense, the horror it depicts is never sensationalised. Instead, Bardugo (who has spoken before about how writing helps her deal with her own trauma) uses it to emphasise the human cost of our obsession with power, supernatural or otherwise. The book’s dogged heroine stands as a reminder of that - Alex may have her flaws but she’s shrewd as hell, with a smart mouth and a wariness of power that keeps her grounded. Her moral compass doesn’t exactly point north, but she knows firsthand what evil looks like and will do whatever it takes to bring it down. She’s the perfect foil to the oily sheen of privilege that coats the world of Lethe House, and there is no other character I’d rather make the descent into hell with.
I honestly cannot rave about Ninth House enough, and after that tantalising ending, I’m already hungry for the sequel. This book may represent a dramatic tonal departure from Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse books, but it’s the perfect read for the discerning fan who’s looking for something a little more twisted. And I also have a feeling that it might snare the author a few more diehard fans...
About the Author
Leigh Bardugo is the number one New York Times bestselling author fantasy novels and the creator of the Grishaverse. With over one million copies sold, her Grishaverse spans the Shadow and Bone trilogy, the Six of Crows duology and The Language of Thorns. She was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, graduated from Yale University, and has worked in advertising, journalism, and most recently, makeup and special effects. These days, she lives and writes in Hollywood, where she can occasionally be heard singing with her band.
Ninth House is the best fantasy novel I've read in years, because it's about real people. Bardugo's imaginative reach is brilliant, and this story, full of shocks and twists, is impossible to put down - Stephen KingNinth House is one of the best fantasy novels I've read in years
. This book is brilliant, funny, raw and utterly magnificent -- it's a portal to a world you'll never want to leave - Lev Grossman, New York Times bestselling author of The Magicians
Leigh Bardugo's Ninth House rocked my world
. I could not get enough of Alex Stern, a heroine for the ages.
With a bruised heart and bleeding knuckles, she risks death and damnation - again and again - for the people she cares about. I was cheering her on the whole way: from the first brilliant sentence of this book to the last. More, please, Ms Bardugo. - Joe Hill
In this mesmerising novel
, Leigh Bardugo introduces us to Alex, a high-school dropout who gets a free ride to Yale because of a unique talent. Bardugo's New Haven is plausible and frightening, and I was one rapt reader
- Charlaine HarrisNinth House
is the best thing I've read in a long time
. There's so much magic here that you'll begin to feel it seeping into the room around you as you read, and characters so real you 'll practically hear their voices in your ear. Leigh Bardugo has written a book so delicious, so twisty, and so immersive I wouldn't blame you for taking the day off to finish it.
- Kelly Link