Review – Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo (Flatiron Books October 2019) cropped for featured image
Ninth House
  • Writing - 10/10
  • Development - 10/10
  • Overall - 10/10
User Review
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Author: Leigh Bardugo
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 480
The mesmerizing adult debut from #1 New York Times bestselling author Leigh Bardugo

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

Release Date: October 8th, 2019

Ninth House is the first adult novel written by Leigh Bardugo, and it is as dark as it is beautiful. Alex Stern has always been able to see ghosts, but now she’s found herself at Yale, surrounded by those who know about magic.


Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Ninth House is the first novel in the Alex Stern series by Leigh Bardugo. It should also be noted that this is Bardugo’s first foray outside of the world of young adult novels. And it is a novel unafraid to dive into the deepest and darkest parts of humanity.

New Haven is a place of secret societies and magic. Here they’ve learned to harness some spells—from the basic to fairly powerful. But there’s a price. There is always a price. Enter Alex Stern. It’s her job to keep the peace between these groups and to make sure they don’t do lasting damage to the non-magical nearby. And, of course, she’s meant to protect the societies from the ghosts—greys—lurking in the shadows.

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo (Flatiron Books October 2019) lgFor better or for worse, Alex has a unique gift that brought her to the attention of the higher-ups within Yale. You see, she has the ability to see ghosts. This ability has been a constant fact and torment for as long as she can remember. But perhaps now she can finally gain control over it, and over her life, in the process.

A Few Warnings

Ninth House has been getting a lot of ink ever since it was announced. And with good reason. For one thing, it’s a brilliant—but dark and foreboding—world full of fascinating characters and motives.

But it’s also the most unsettling novel that Bardugo has ever written. Both she and her publisher have made a significant effort to make sure that fans are aware of what they are in for, with this novel. It is not a young adult novel. In fact, it covers a lot of heavy and distressing subjects. There are scenes that depict abuse, drug usage/overdose, sexual assault/rape of adults and a child, drowning, gore, and self-harm. So please do consider yourself warned before picking this novel up.


Ninth House was a beautifully written novel. It’s the sort of novel that digs its way into your subconscious, making it difficult, if not impossible, to put down. The world itself was as vibrant as it was distressing, full of details that made it feel so alive.

Bardugo used a specific storytelling style in order to tell her story—and to increase the tension along the way. The novel is told through multiple perspectives, and a few different points in time. Alex’s side of the story is told in two parts: her past and her present. Darlington’s side is told from the point of the near past. Together the whole story is slowly revealed, leading the readers through a tumultuous adventure.

The characters, Alex especially, were dynamic and full of warring and unique motivations for their actions. These actions made more sense as the novel went on, and as we learned more about each character involved. It was captivating to see how it all unfolded.


Ninth House was a steadily-paced novel, and thank goodness for that. The multiple perspectives and time jumps ensured that there was always something happening at any given point. But it also increased the foreboding feeling within the novel.

There were countless emotional ups and downs within these pages. Bardugo clearly knew how to elicit an emotional reaction from her readers, and she wasn’t afraid to make us feel for the main characters or the situations they were in.

Everything has a price. Especially magic. That was a theme in this novel, and it was only one of many themes that were vying for attention in Ninth House. The complex nature of this story made it impossible to look away or put down. Perhaps that is the reason why these 480 pages will feel like they’re flying by.


Ninth House is a novel that will rip out your heart, stomp on it, and then proudly hand it back to you. And you’ll thank it for the treatment. Seriously, though, Ninth House was an absolutely amazing read—even if it was dark and by far the most emotional and disturbing novel I’ve read in quite some time.

I have no regrets about reading Ninth House. Except perhaps the amount of time I have to wait for the next novel to be revealed and released.

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About the author

Cat Wyatt

Cat Wyatt is an avid comic book reader, as well as a reader of novels. Her favorite genres are science fiction and fantasy, though she's usually willing to try other genres as well. Cat collects Funko Pop figures, Harry Potter books (different editions), and has more bookshelves than she's willing to admit.

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