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  • Writer's pictureAshley Mongrain

Ninth House

Updated: Jul 12, 2021

Rating - ⭐⭐

"Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive."


Ninth House is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo's brand new adult fantasy series Alex Stern.

I was intrigued to see what Bardugo's first take on an adult book would be like, and I have so much regret because this was not it.

My first impression of the book was that I felt like the book started not at the beginning but in the middle of the story. There wasn't really a setup to the story and barely any background information was given. You're just thrown in there and I don't think that was the best way to start a new book in a series.

After a rough start, things didn't get any better from there. I didn't like Alex, I didn't like that the book is told non-chronologically, and I felt pretty meh about the plot and the world in general which was a huge disappointment. Secret societies are a subject I am greatly interested in, and this just didn't live up to my expectations.

I'm also not too happy about the fact that what made this an adult book was giving Alex a tragic backstory as well as the addition of triggering scenes. Speaking of triggering scenes, I did not think that the inclusion of rape was handled as well as it could have been. Now, I understand that this makes a statement about rape culture in prestigious universities, but there were scenes in this that were 100% unnecessary. The sexual assault of a minor character occurred and was never mentioned again after the fact. There was no talk about trauma or mental health, it just happened and was left there in the open.

On top of this, there were other scenes that left a bad taste in my mouth involving harmful stereotypes. I'm talking about "On your knees hon, time for Chinese takeout" and "If you stay in the sun much longer you're going to look all Mexicana." Yeah, that's a no from me thank you very much. This just left a bad taste in my mouth.

Back to the plot, at one point I thought that I was having deja vu because there was a plot point that sounded extremely familiar. And this was because it sounded like it was taken straight out of an episode of Teen Wolf. Don't know whether or not the similarities were intentional...but that's what I immediately thought of. On another note, we have Darlington who some people thought was the only redeeming quality of this book but, sadly, I did not care about him at all.

Overall, I came here with the promise of secret societies, but what I got instead was a book that just made me feel uncomfortable.

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