Book Review: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Ninth House (Alex Stern, #1)

This is perhaps one of the most anticipated books of 2019, and a few months ago I’m pretty sure most readers were talking about it. This is the first book of Bardugo’s new series, and I believe her first adult book as well (though we’ll get to my thoughts on that later). I usually don’t read hyped books, but I was curious after reading and really enjoying her Six of Crows series. However, I’ve noticed most of the blogs/Booktubers I watch had pretty mixed feelings about this book. Either they enjoyed it, or it really missed the mark. And sadly for me this book fits in the latter part.

Release: Oct. 2019

Synopsis: Galaxy “Alex” Stern’s life hasn’t been easy. She’s only twenty and has a long past of drugs, dangerous boyfriends, her ability to see ghosts, and her tragedy being the only survivor of a multiple homicide. But her life all changes when she is invited to enter Yale University mysteriously. There, she is tasked to investigate Yale’s secret occult societies, along with the suspicious death of a young woman.

Non-Spoiler Review

This book is honestly kind of a mess. It’s difficult for me to describe where this book went wrong, because I honestly think a lot of the parts of it were interested. I was fascinated by the secret societies, and learning more about Alex’s past. There’s also a few different murders that we learn about as we go. However, there are so many things which made this book not work for me. First and foremost, there is just too much going on. There’s the murders Alex was involved in, two murders from a hundred years ago, and the murder of the young women. And then there are the two perspectives in different times that we jump between, making the chronological order super confusing. Many of the background characters are extremely bland, making me have trouble remembering who was who. Alex herself was pretty much a big “not like other girls” trope, and while I wanted to like her for all the trauma she’s gone through, I just could not take her seriously, even when the book tackles super serious topics like rape and drug use. All in all, there were aspects of this book I liked, but I just could never really enjoy it.

Another main issue I had with it was it’s a massive mess of genres and demographics. It’s pretty much an urban fantasy, half murder mystery and half fantasy. But there’s also a lot of coming of age and just generic fiction in it. It’s also supposed to be adult, but it felt like new adult to me. The characters are young, like I was reading a YA, but of course the content and language (lots and lots of swearing) makes me think adult. It just felt like a weird mix to me.

I’m just looking at the bad aspects of this book, so let’s look briefly at some things I did like. First, the descriptions are very visual. I always felt within the scenes, even if the scenes didn’t always fit together. In many ways, the lush descriptions made the book into a very visual experience. Second, Alex is in conflict in her investigation with the chief detective on the case, Turner. I enjoyed their bickering.

Now, mainly the book is in Alex’s perspective, but it does go to Darlington’s, or Alex’s “cousin” (he’s not really), is the past. I found his chapters really pointless and slow.

The magic is kind of weirdly handled. On one hand, we have the world where the dead go. Alex sees ghosts, both good and bad, some that wish to hurt her. On the other hand, we have more fanciful elements like magic, coins that hypnotize, etc. The two worlds didn’t always fit seamlessly together.

Basically, I saw some potential in the book, but I couldn’t really enjoy the combination story, world, and characters.

Have you read this book? Do you agree with my view or did you like it? Also, does it look like a book you want to read? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,

Best wishes in your life full of adventure,

Madame Writer

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

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