Book of the Day
By Leigh Bardugo
Flat Iron Books
Publication Date: October 8, 2019
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Review by Emma Boyd
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo is her first book in the “new adult” genre. This is important for fans of Bardugo’s earlier works which were all firmly in the middle-grade genre. If your pre-teen brings home this book, you may want to read it first. There is sex, violence, cursing, etc., basically all of the hallmarks of a book by Stephen King, Joe Hill, Charlaine Harris or Lev Grossman (all of whom gave Ninth House great reviews). If you like their styles of writing, then you should appreciate Bardugo’s work as well.
Ninth House is the tale of Galaxy (Alex) Stern, a freshman at Yale University in New Haven Connecticut. As we have seen in the news, there seem to be many ways to get into Yale. One can be exceptionally brilliant, exceptionally wealthy, or be of a distinguished pedigree with powerful connections. Alex is none of these. But she is uniquely talented. She can see the dead. This is not a skill she wants. In fact, she has spent most of her life trying to hide the fact that she can see “greys.” But there are secret forces out there searching for those that can detect the “uncanny” and they have found Alex. Despite being woefully unprepared for the scholastic rigors of an Ivy League university (she is a high school dropout), Alex is offered a full ride to Yale. In exchange for this, she is to use her gift to benefit the secret societies at the university. She must also pass the classes—which I think was a nice touch by Borduga. Alex is smart. The question is whether or not she is smart enough to get out of this alive.
When I see that a book has received good reviews from four of my favorite authors, I am going to read the book. And my expectations of that book are going to be high. I was not disappointed in the least by Ninth House. I enjoyed the multiple POV style of the book and the flash backs that supported the characters’ development. The pacing of the novel might have slowed down at times, but overall it felt “right.” I delighted in the bits of historical facts sprinkled throughout that lent a degree of “truth” to the story. I was also intrigued by the author’s own personal history that seemed to mirror that of the main protagonist, Alex. I would classify Borduga’s style as a bit of Lev Grossman (The Magicians) and Charlaine Harris (The Sukie Stackhouse books) mixed together. There is not quite the level of horror that Stephen King can manifest, nor the dizzying plot twists that Joe Hill is known for. But, I am eager to see what Borduga writes next.