Select one of the keywords
Ninth House    by Leigh Bardugo order for
Ninth House
by Leigh Bardugo
Order:  USA  Can
Macmillan Audio, 2019 (2019)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Leigh Bardugo's Ninth House, first in a brilliant new fantasy series, is essentially Harry Potter for grown-ups. Its lead, Galaxy 'Alex' Stern, has had a tough life, ever since she started seeing greys (ghosts) as a small child. This eventually led to her taking drugs, simply to escape.

By age twenty, Alex lived with a drug-dealer and his entourage. As the story opens, she is the only survivor of the slaughter of everyone else in that crew - readers will only find out what actually happened towards the end of this episode. Handcuffed to a hospital bed, Alex is offered a way out and to attend Yale's freshman class - how come?

It seems that Yale's secret magical societies, the Houses of the Veil, need someone with her talents. She's apprenticed to Darlington, becoming Dante to his Virgil. Their responsibility is to deal with the stray magic that breaks loose from the secret societies' rituals. Darlington is experienced, but he cannot see Greys as Alex can.

The story constantly moves back and forth in time, which can be confusing, but it also grabs the readers' attention and doesn't let go. Magic goes awry and Darlington goes missing. Alex feels compelled to investigate a young woman's brutal murder in New Haven, and ultimately links it to serial killings that have gone on for over a century.

She works with a Grey, the Bridegroom, who demands her help in clearing him of the vicious murder of his fiancee Daisy. Alex has to die (briefly) to get needed information. She also works with police officer Turner, who wants nothing to do with her at first. She gets the answers she sought, in the process almost becoming the ultimate prey of a very experienced predator.

Ninth House is a convoluted, often challenging read (or listen in the case of the audiobook, which was read brilliantly by Lauren Fortgang and Michael David Axtell) but is well worth the effort. It ends on quite the cliffhanger and I am anxious to find out what comes next for Alex Stern and the Houses of the Veil.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Fantasy books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews