REVIEW: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
Ninth house is Leigh Bardugo’s first foray into the adult fantasy world. Even she has said that this is because she wanted to tell a more adult story, which included some traumatic scenes. So here are some trigger warnings: violence, rape, suicide, drug abuse that includes an overdose and murder. Now that we got that out of the way let’s begin our review.
We open our story with a girl named Galaxy Stern, she prefers Alex though. There is something off about this girl and people who knew her might not even put their tongue on it but as the readers we are clued into her secret quite quickly. She can see ghosts, also known as greys. She wakes up in the hospital having just survived a multiple homicide. Dean Sandow from Yale shows up and starts asking questions about her seeing ghosts, to which she denies of course. Seeing through her lies, Dean Sandow makes her an offer though that she cannot refuse, a full ride to Yale if she joins Lethe, one of the secret societies of the university. It is then explained that that It’s the ninth house of the societies. The ninth house regulates the other eight houses and tried to at least keep them in line.
This is a life away from what she used to do. We later find out that she was the one that killed those people in the homicide after her friend overdosed and took over her body as a ghost. She starts thinking that she could get used to this better life that Yale and Lethe have offered her. Whilst at Yale, she meets Daniel Arlington who becomes her mentor as he is also in Lethe. He prepares her to take on his role as Virgil next year, meaning that she would train the new recruit.
Alex arrives at Yale around the time of a murder near the campus. We later find out that Lethe has it’s own police contact, Detective Turner but neither Alex or Turner like each other much. They have more of a sibling annoying type relationship. Then when Darlington goes missing, Alex knows that something is definitely going on in the town of New Haven. Alex goes on to investigate the murder herself since she isn’t getting any answers from Turner.
A while later, a grey attacks Alex, this is only the second time a grey could touch her. The first time was in middle school when a grey began to rape her. People didn’t believe that this happened because there was no one physical there but they do agree that something traumatic did happen in that bathroom that caused Alex’s life to turn upside down. From then on, she started doing drugs and hanging out with the wrong crowd because they actually got her more than most people. They all had their own shit going on so they could relate. Luckily, a teacher saved her when she was in middle school, now it appears another grey, called the bridegroom helped her.
Alex tries to contact the bridegroom again but fails so asks her friend Dawes, to kill her temporarily. She asks him to help her find Tara, the dead girl from the edge of campus, on the other side. He agrees. Though he and Alex combine their power and can see in each other’s minds. The Bridegroom comes to her again and they combine as a way to strengthen their power and bond. Alex sees that the bridegroom did indeed kill his fiancée and then kill himself but she notes that something was off with him. We later learn that he was possessed by a grey that wasn’t exactly pleased to be there.
Alex discovers that it was Blake that killed Tara. And that he was under the compulsion by Dean Sandow, the very person that recruited her to Leathe, to kill Tara. He did this for a bunch of money for his divorce settlement. The reason behind the deaths surrounding the campus throughout the years is so that there is a nexus of power for another house of the societies to arise. Alex goes to her teachers, Belbalm, party that she was hosting and to confront Dean Sandow about his part in this conspiracy. He tries to use the compulsion powder on her but the bridegroom takes over her body. This is when Belbalm walks in. It is then revealed that she is Daisy, the bridegroom’s fiancée. Daisy has had many bodies since then and this is the latest one that she has possessed. Belbalm escapes but before then she kills Dean Sandow with her touch. It is ruled a heart attack.
At the funeral of Sandow, Michelle, one of the members of Lethe reveals that she thinks that a hell hound was sent to kill Darlington but instead he went to the other side. Michelle asks her if she wants to rescue him from hell and she agrees. This is where our story ends for now,
Overall, this book was highly intriguing. Although a lot of people found this book to be dull and slow paced, I thoroughly enjoyed it. However, this may be due to the way that I consumed the book. I read it via audiobook rather than the physical text. When it is a physical text it can feel like it’s droning on but when you read an audiobook at 2 times speed, you can get through it quite easily. This book is not for the faint hearted.
4 out of 5 stars.