Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo: Gruesome and Gripping

In a busy circumstance like this, chalking out a plan is one thing, but it is quite another to actually execute it. Four books by Leigh Bardugo have been completed in the span of one month and I'm quite excited to report another one finished today: Ninth Housequite gruesome if compared to the four Grishaverse books I have before read, but the magic in it is definitely more elaborate and complex.

Ninth House follows the story of Alex Stern, a freshman at Yale with a dark and mysterious past. Alex was not only a dropout, but she also used to get into the world of drug dealing, and was once found as the sole survivor in a terrifying homicide. Being offered a way out by attending Yale and monitoring the activities of the university's secret societies as a member of Lethe, Alex finds herself trapped in between the occults' pursuits and the possibility of their involvement in a girl's murder. It's too bad that her Virgil, Darlington, is not there to help or protect her from the possible killers and their dark magic.

Before I picked up Ninth House last week, I had skimmed through quite a handful of its reviews on Goodreads to summarize that the thing I needed to possess in the early chapters of this book was perseverance. I remember thinking that I would probably enjoy it shortly after being familiarized with the characters or the societies. Turned out, I was wrongit took longer than that, required more than a mere introduction. At 25% I was still confused, hardly memorized the names of the eight houses let alone the ritual they proceeded; it was not until 40% or so that I started to truly grasp the terms used and was able to follow the pace easily.

Well, it was worth it though. Even when I felt like the beginning was quite a struggle, I was still deeply immersed in this dark and magical side of Yale. The dark-academia vibe felt immaculate, and after confirming the existence of these societies in real life, I instantly thought that Bardugo's idea to mix them with fiction and magic was really cool. It was sort of unfortunate that I didn't have a physical copy of this bookI bet the map would be very helpful in guiding us through the numerous places in New Haven. Mine was not very much used as the one in the Kinde version was kinda small.

The description helped a lot, thankfully. Bardugo's writing style was still as good as ever, hooking me to go deeper and pushing me to keep digging. Some of the scenes were gruesome and bloody (though not as much as I had expected beforehand) as they covered a lot of triggering issues like child rape and abuse. Alex was the kind of anti-hero character that we would want to root because she didn't give up even when the world hadn't exactly gone easy on her, while Darlington, who was known as the Lethe's gentleman, was her exact opposite in many ways. Much to my liking, he was very charming, and I really couldn't wait to see how their chemistry would develop in the second installment (said a sucker for romance in fantasy books haha).

In conclusion, I'd say that you would enjoy Ninth House if you could bear with the confusion you have to go through in the first few chapters. I might still have some questions left unanswered as I closed the book, but I know that all I can do right now is to be patient and just wait for them to uncover themselves in the next installment. Still, the murder mystery was very gripping, and the cliff-hanger ending had done wonders for me to keep hoping. I finally chose to settle my rating on 3.7★, but I believe it would increase once I reread it.

Actual rating: 3.7