Ninth House was released this October, and it is Leigh Bardugo’s first adult novel. Ninth House tells the story of Galaxy “Alex” Stern, a high school drop out from California, who is enrolled at Yale University to join a secret campus organization named Lethe. Lethe is part of nine magical houses, and their main jobs are to regulate the activities of the other houses to make sure they are falling the rules. Lethe is small and consists of a core group of people: Dante, Virgil, Centurion, and Occulus. Centurion goes by the name Turner, an African American Police officer of New Haven, who has been paid by Lethe to cover up any magical crimes despite Turner’s involvement in Lethe, he is a good guy and a good cop. Occulus is also known as Dawes, a grad student who spends the majority of her time working on her dissertation at the Lethe house, but Dawes’ main job is to assist Dante and Virgil. Alex is Dante, and Darlington is Virgil. Darlington’s job is to show Alex the ropes of all Lethe house duties, one ritual involves scaring off ghosts or greys while another house cuts some random person open to read the future at least that’s how I interrupted it I’m still confused about the intricacies of that ritual.
Alex’s first semester at Yale is overwhelming, as she has to complete her assignments as an English major as well as her nighttime duties at Lethe. Darlington’s disappearence complicates everything, and Alex is left to carry out the duties of Lethe house on her own. Alex starts to sense that things are amiss when Tara Hutchins, a New Haven girl, is murdered outside one of the magical houses. Everyone insists that Tara’s boyfriend is the culprit, but Alex thinks there is something off about Tara’s death. Alex enlists the help of Dawes and Turner to help her follow the trail of clues that suggest the other houses might have had some involvement in Tara’s death.
When I first cracked this book open in mid-November I was intrigued, but my attention was not fully captivated. I felt like I was in a slump, and when I’m in a reading slump I distract myself with either watching Tv or reading fanfiction. In this case, I did both.
I rewatched most of Bunheads and read some Star Wars fanfiction in case anyone was wondering.
However, when I realized I had three days to compete Ninth House, and I was only 100s pages deep, I knew I had to start reading and fast if I wanted to complete it this month.
When Alex became entangled in the murder of Tara Hutchins, so did I become entangled in this book. I begin to wonder what exactly happened to Darlington and maybe if Alex had killed him herself. However, after reading Alex’s longing to see Darlington again, I was even more confused. Where the two lovers? Should I be rooting for their ill-fated romance?
As I continued to read Ninth House most of my questions were slowly piecing together answers. Although the world is elaborate and all the houses and what they do, are at times, confusing I found it helpful to just get consumed in the story until you forgot about all your questions.
Despite the complexities of Ninth House this book is sure to reel you in with all the cool charaters. Aside from Darlington, Lethe house’s golden boy, and Alex’s mentor into the dark world of magic, and Dawes a reserved grad student who is always saving Alex’s ass, there is also North, a ghost who lurks around New Haven and is believed to have murdered his Fiancée.
As Alex gets deeper into the investigation of Tara’s death so does North’s character development and soon North goes from becoming a suspected murderer to a real softie who scares off other ghosts from following Alex.
Ninth House is also abundant with California and English writer’s references. If you are currently studying English in college, a lot of the poetry and stories referenced will be familiar to you. The whole Dante and Virgil dynamic should be a big hint on both the themes of the novel and that other prominent English writers may be referenced. If you grew up in Southern California, the landmarks mentioned will be easy to picture.
What surprised me about Ninth House was that Alex, the main character is brown. Alex’s grandmother often sung lullabies to her in Spanish, but the dialect in which these lullabies were spoken was one that I had never heard of or knew existed. The Spanish used in this novel is called Ladino, a Judaeo-Spanish, that was spoken by Jews who lived in Spain before Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand decided to kick out the Jewish population. This little piece of information was super cool for me to learn, and it’s also insanely cool that this language becomes one of the biggest tools that Alex uses to defend herself from the greys.
Overall, Ninth House is a book that may have a slow start, but it will quickly suck you into the plot once things become interesting. Although Ninth House is the first book of the series there is no big cliff hanger in the end. However all the plot twists in this book are sure to keep you guessing. I loved this read, and I will considering adding it and the next installment onto my shelf forever.
Now for the real question.
Do I ship Alex and Darlington? Maybe so. Is this a bad idea considering what happened to one of my otps in Crooked Kingdom.
But I’m going to casually ship them anyways.
And now a brief rant on Alex and Darlington
Sure Alex is a bit suspious, considering what she did to her “friends” back in LA, and Darlignton is the nerdy gentleman of Ninth House. The pair really have no business being together romantically. However, they’re a great team and if Darlington had been present for Tara’s investigation Alex probably wouldn’t have put herself in as much danger as she’d liked.
Plus Darlington has a cat and an attachment to his grandfather’s big mansion and if that doesn’t scream love interest then we clearly have different definitions.
I give Ninth House a five-star review, and if you have any bookish friends who love gothic-fantasies or books with a morally gray character, definitely pick up Ninth House. However, be aware that Ninth House deals with serious topics such as sexual assault, rape of a minor, drug use, suicide, self-harm, drowning, and lots of blood and gore.
Until next time continue living in libros,