If you cannot read dark, disturbing books, don’t read it. If you are too sensitive on anything you read and cannot handle the dark side of a person, don’t read it. If you are a romantic soul that loves YA fantasy, but has never read a Stephen King book, don’t read it. But if you are open minded and can differentiate between a fictional story and reality, go, dive in it immediately because it is a book that will consume you once you start reading it.
I ordered “Ninth House” for two reasons. One is that it is written by Leigh Bardougo, an author I love and is on my auto-buy because of her YA fantasy books. The second is that this is her first Adult Fantasy and being a big Stephen King fan, I could not just pass his comment that is also visible in the cover of the book “Impossible to put down”. Now that I have read the book, I totally agree with him!
Alex Stern is one of those damaged girls, that has run away from home, consumed herself in drugs and dealing, ending up the only survivor in an unsolved multiple homicide. While on her hospital bed, she gets a proposal she cannot refuse. She is offered a space in Yale University, one of the most prestigious campuses in the whole world. It surely doesn’t come out of the Dean’s courtesy, there is definitely a catch, but Alex is a survivor, so she takes it and guesses that she will figure it out in the process.
As it happens with all universities and their sororities, Yale has its societies. There are secret societies that do more than partying around. The secret Societies, the Ancient Eight, are powerful and prestigious societies that have created some of the world’s leader and players in the most important positions out there. But there are not just another sect, they exercise magic and Alex’s job, as member of the Lethe, the Ninth House, is to monitor those activities and ensure that the rules are followed and that everyone stays at their side of the world. Easier said than done.
When Alex arrives at campus, she finds herself with three roommates and a mentor on her secret new job. Daniel Arlington is quite a catch! He is old money, handsome and noble and he is her Vigil, as she is the new Dante, the code names that are used by The Lethe. Alex has a lot to learn from Darlington, much of it she would love to have known years ago, when she was a little child. You see, Alex can see the “Quiet ones” as she has always called them, the “Grays” as the Yale societies call them. The “Grays” are souls that never left this world for the afterlife, they are ghosts. And ghosts cannot lay their hands on humans. Only that, they can do it on Alex. They have done it years ago, leaving a huge trauma on her. It would be really useful for her to know that she could send them away with just a few words. And now she knows that Lethe has been monitoring her for years, yet they never acted upon the Grays, they never helped her have a more normal life. Excluding the ghosts and the paranormal part in general, human exploitation is part of the real world. To not help someone when you can and they need your help, but to require their support on your behalf. It’s a matter of power, and power is one of the main themes in this book.
The power that magic provides to those that exercise it. The power to know the right things and make the right moves in order to gain more money and more authority. The power to make people do what you want. The power to be unharmed, no matter what happens. The power to be above all. But Alex Stern defies that power. She wants answers, so she won’t give up, won’t be intimidated by that power that wishes to shut her mouth. She needs to find out what happened to that girl. Tara Hutchinson died a very painful death and the Ancient Eight and the Lethe are trying to cover it up, or dismiss it as a city murder that has nothing to do with the societies. If so, then why something feels so wrong to Alex? And what really happened to Darlington? Will they be able to bring him back?
Leigh Bardougo unravels herself in “Ninth House”. All those hidden messages in Shadow and Bones trilogy, all the darkness that was hidden in her YA books, is now set free to create this magnificent piece of art. Waiting for the sequel is going to be a pain.