Backlist Review: Ninth House (Alex Stern #1) by Leigh Bardugo

I wanted to get some older reviews up so I’ll be starting a “Backlist Review” segment along with my books I’ve read this year! Basically any Backlist review is a book I haven’t read or reread in 2020, most likely it will be a 2019 read! So without further ado:

4/5 stars

Yale University is home to some of the brightest stars. But even those who shine have their dark secrets. Enter Lethe, one of nine secret societies involved in the occult and paranormal. Alex Stern is brought to Yale on a full ride as the newest member of Lethe. They’re basically the people who make sure none of the other eight societies are discovered, or as I like to call it, the secret police.

Alex is a bit of a special case too: she can see ghosts or grays as they’re called for their gray appearance. As she goes about trying to fit in to Yale and learn her role in Lethe, a murder case that seems innocent has long buried roots Alex must discover.

Ninth House is told in two POVs: Alex in the present term and Darlington in the past as he shows Alex the ropes when she first gets to Yale. The mystery of Tara Hutchinson’s murder is only complicated by the possible involvement of one or more of the other societies. When Darlington disappears, Alex doesn’t know how to juggle solving Tara’s murders and continue learning her role within Lethe.

This book is full of violence, graphic scenes and chills. Leigh doesn’t shy away from addressing triggering experiences and the blatant double standards that run rampant in the secret societies. So many times we see these people: mainly young, rich white men, get away with crimes they committed because they can. Well, Alex Stern isn’t about to let that happen. She’s lived her through her own horrors and she’s not letting anyone else get away with it if she can stop it.

Alex can be quite vindictive, cold and cruel if she feels she needs to. I would not want to be on her bad side. However, once she’s decided to figure something out, she’s not going to back down or give up until she’s solved the problem. I also loved her fierce devotion to her roommates and even Darlington to an extent.

The ending was pretty crazy and I know I definitely would not have guessed all the twists and turns of this! I think my head is still slightly spinning from everything that happened. Definitely looking forward to the sequel.

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