Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. Their eight windowless "tombs” are the well-known haunts of the rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street’s biggest players. But their occult activities are more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive. From #1 New York Times-bestselling author Leigh Bardugo.
... wry, uncanny, original and, above all, an engrossing, unnerving thriller ... The world that Alex navigates feels intimately lived-in. A Yale alum, Bardugo name-checks New Haven’s buildings, streets, restaurants and stores. Except for Lethe, all the secret societies featured in the novel actually exist. These elements create a fluid feeling of not knowing precisely where reality leaves off and fantasy takes over, creating layers of mystery for the reader ... Alex is a potent mix of flinty strength and raw vulnerability and a brilliant instrument to channel the novel’s tone, which is simultaneously elegant and grotesque, eerie and earthbound ... Alex stands at the crossroads of privilege and pragmatism, and her unique point of view opens the most relatable and often the funniest windows into the story’s themes ... Investigative momentum propels Alex through some convincing misdirection before she comes to a climactic confrontation that resonates emotionally. Alex gets answers, but they lead her only to new questions, leaving readers hungry as a hellbeast for the sequel that is sure to follow.
Bardugo’s greatest power is ushering readers of any age through big, cast-heavy books with clarity and narrative precision. She is great at crime capers and misdirection. She can move groups of characters around a made-up city or a magical New Haven with equal ease ... in Ninth House, [Bardugo] seems to feel freer to let us into her world more abruptly, with a bit more terror and a bit less hand-holding ... For any audience, Bardugo makes unexpectedly strong rivers of stories, purposed by swift currents of feeling. As you step further into the nasty and confusing dark of Ninth House, you feel for her caught-up characters. That’s what usually gets discarded first in these genres when writers get distracted by world-building or struggle with plot. But Bardugo’s characters feel real — and she doesn’t forget that everyone hurts.
I like Leigh Bardugo the young adult fantasy author, but I absolutely LOVE Leigh Bardugo the adult fantasy author. Everything I felt was missing from her young adult work is all over her adult book. In my review copy, I must have dogeared every other page to mark a meaningful quote or scene. Things she’s only hinted at in her young adult work is dredged up from the depths, cut open, and exposed to the world ... By far, Ninth House is the best novel Leigh Bardugo has ever written, and definitely one of the best of 2019. If I gave stars to my reviews, it would get 10 out of 5. It is a clarion call for accountability, a summoning spell for 'girls like us' who cannot fight back, and a battle cry for those working to dismantle the system.