Leigh Bardugo is one of the better writers out there in the world. She could write a book on drying paint, and I would buy it in a heartbeat. Luckily, she didn’t do this and instead wrote the masterpiece that is Ninth House.
Leigh Bardugo’s writing is always a gem. The way she writes makes it impossible to put down the book. She manages to write in a pleasant tone of voice, with great pacing throughout her sentences. This gives the books she’s written an amazing flow. In her new book ‘Ninth House’ she once again amazes me with her amazing writing. ‘Ninth House’ is Leigh’s first Adult Novel, and man, is it a good one.
The story revolves around Galaxy Stern, or, as she prefers, Alex. She is a first year at Yale, following a scholarship that is provided to her by Lethe, one of the nine societies. The societies are different houses at Yale, all having their own form of magic, provided to them by a Nexus, which is the source of their magic. Lethe is basically the supervisor of all the houses, seeing to it that they follow the rules and don’t expose their magic to the outside world.
The reason Lethe chose Alex to join as their Overviewer, and offered her a full ride to Yale, is because she has a gift that is seen as extremely useful to Lethe. However, she herself considers it to be more of a curse than a gift. She can see ghosts, or ‘Grays’ as they are referred to in the book. However, Alex accepted Lethe’s offer to get away from her drug addicted past, and the horrible accident that led Lethe to her in the first place.
The book is written over the span of two different timelines, described as last fall, and winter. Last fall is the beginning of the year. Alex just arrived, and is working with a guy named Darlington, who has worked for Lethe for three years, and is going to train her to basically become the new him. He is training her to see to it that the houses are staying in line. But during her stay at Yale, Alex starts to realise that her job is less about keeping them in check and more about cleaning up after them. All the while the societies draw magic from the unknowing people just making their way through Yale.
Darlington might just be my favourite character. He is described as the gentleman of Lethe, and that is the most accurate thing ever. He follows the rules, but is also very stubborn, and determined.
“They'd made the mistake of teaching him he could survive” – Leigh Bardugo
He is a pretentious little shit, but he somehow managed to nestle his way into my heart. I will protect him at all cost.
Sadly, he is missing during the second timeline in the book. In winter we get to know that something happened during one of Lethe’s missions. Darlington mysteriously disappeared and is to be retrieved by the next new moon. Alex is left to look after the other houses herself. So, when a murder happens way too close to campus for Lethe’s liking, something in Alex’s gut tells her to look deeper into it, even though the officer on the case insists it has nothing to do with the societies.
Alex is a headstrong character and a survivor. You grow empathetic towards her, which is why you really root for her throughout the book.
“What do you want?" Belbalm had asked her. Safety, comfort, to feel unafraid. I want to live to grow old, Alex thought as she pulled the curtains closed. I want to sit on my porch and drink foul-smelling tea and yell at passers-by. I want to survive this world that keeps trying to destroy me.” – Leigh Bardugo, Ninth House.
Despite her sometimes-drastic ways, or her sometimes selfish tendencies, you want her to succeed. So, when things seem to go wrong, and the tension really rises, you are left at the edge of your seat, waiting for the outcome.
When Alex starts to investigate the murder, she starts to discover more and more ties to the different houses of Yale, and a lot of motives for the murder. After a while, she finally gets the officer that is on the case on her side. Together, they slowly start to pin together the complete story.
The story overall is very high in suspense, and, as always, Leigh Bardugo’s writing style is simply amazing. It is truly one of my favourite books. I feel empty and am yearning for more now that I finished it. If you don’t want to take my word for it, listen to Stephen King, who said: “best fantasy I’ve read in years” and "impossible to put down".