Book Review – Ninth House

Alex Stern #1

A girl with the ability to see ghosts finds peace in drug abuse. When her world comes violently crashing down around her, she’s surprisingly offered a dangerous job at Lethe House and a scholarship to the prestigious Yale University. What happens at Yale is nothing like what she expects. How dangerous are these secret societies? How far will the elite go to grow their power? And at what cost will their secrets come to light?

This was a long story with a lot going on. At first, I wasn’t sure about Alex (Galaxy) and her past. I’m not usually into reading about teen drug abusers, but as the story progressed, it became apparent that while Alex was doing drugs, she was in control of her actions and using in a kind of (poorly chosen) mental health kind of way. She was using because it made the ghosts disappear, and she says herself at one point that she “never got into the hard stuff” like her friends. So, when the opportunity to join Lethe was offered, she was able to easily start over and mostly fit in at the university. Her job there is to be Dante, a kind of apprentice to Virgil. Together they monitor the magic use of the societies during their rituals and other stuff.

The story is full of time hopping and I think it was told in a clear way. We find out about Alex’s past and how it relates to things happening in the present. We learn a lot about the societies, how they run, what mischievous things they are up to, and how dangerous they are. Things go horribly wrong in this book and there’s murder-mystery on top or murder-mystery on top of other sketchy stuff. It’s all told in a way that makes you question what’s really happening and who could be orchestrating the whole thing. There are some red herrings, some twists, and some shocking turns, but it all makes sense at the end.

The characters were unique, well developed, and true to their character. There’s a lot of little things that appear as generally descriptive writing, but after you learn more about a character’s motives, you find that those little things were important details. I love those little details. This book is full of them. If I had to rate the characters, I think Darlington would be my favorite, followed by Dawes, Centurion Turner, then Alex. It’s not that Alex was poorly written, I just had a hard time sympathizing with her until much later in the book after she had time to grow. I think I’ll like her better in Hell Bent if her character keeps growing in the right direction.

Overall, I give it a 5 out of 5.

I am a big dark academia fan, more so when magic is involved and I enjoyed this story a lot.

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