Ninth House


That was what magic did. It revealed the heart of who you'd been before life took away your belief in the possible. It gave back the world all lonely children longed for.


This being my first novel from the author Leigh Bardugo, Ninth House failed to entice me to its fantasy realm and characters despite its promising story. Frankly, I was not impressed by the plot of the book despite a premise filled with magic, murder, and mystery.

Set in Yale, Galaxy "Alex" Stern is recruited into the ninth house, Lethe, which ensures security as the eight secret societies—the Houses of the Veil—perform magical rituals that are unique and distinct from the rest. The death of a girl on campus, the disappearance of her friend Darlington, and her ability to see ghosts compel Alex to uncover the events that unfold before her as well as discover the profuse magical entities and powers that exist.

In reading this book, I found myself primarily confused throughout much of the story.

The world-building was impressively developed, but I found that it was executed ineffectively. Unlike many fantasy books that I have read, Ninth House developed a universe that was slightly difficult to grasp and understand. This comes in relation with the book's shaky start, where I felt initially confused due to the many terminologies, names, and minor characters that were introduced with little to no explanation, leading me to rely on drawing hints and clues from the story. Thankfully, the latter half of the book eased gradually as everything began to make sense. In the end, we see more answers to questions initially raised at the start, though this does not change the fact that the exposition proved to be difficult to fully grasp.

Alex and her friend Darlington are likable characters, but ultimately, they are not my favorites. We see the close relationship between these two characters as the book shifts between the past and present, and though I admired how they have respectively developed, I was not fully convinced that they were interesting characters. In addition, the heroic figure that Alex was intended to be did not capture my intrigue in a similar fashion as that of other fictional characters, partly due to the difficult writing. The writing style was simply difficult to enjoy because of the amount of confusing information that was introduced.

Ninth House is not an easy read. An adult dark fantasy book, it is filled with scenes pointing to sexual assault that some might find distressing. While I did enjoy the book in some aspects, unfortunately, I do not think that this is a book that I would like to read again anytime soon.

[Trigger warning: This book includes depictions of violence and sexual assault.]

★★★
jillian etc.