Leigh Bardugo delivers a great spin on the fantasy genre by reimagining the Secret Societies of Yale University as houses of magic! 20 year old Alex Stern has the ability to see ghosts. This is normally something that the houses at need to achieve by drinking a dangerous potion. They gets her a scholarship to the university and a place in the Ninth House, the one that monitors the activities of the other eight. When a girl ends up dead, Alex begins to suspect that one of the houses was involved. This starts her on a path of great peril as she unravels the secrets of New Haven and Yale’s magic.
This was a solid book. Bardugo is fairly well known for her YA Grishaverse series. This is decidedly not for younger crowds as some violent and adult themes are explored. I am into the whole secret society thing, and magic, so this was a good fit for me. I thought Alex’s past was outstandingly revealed, particularly the revelation of how strong her powers are and what she can do with them. Her tutor, Darlington, is a particularly interesting character, especially considering where his character ends up in the novel. Alex was a refreshingly REAL protagonist. Yes, she has incredible abilities, but she screws up, has doubts, feels like she doesn’t belong at Yale, and is a recovering drug addict.
The book leaves a few mysteries open by the end of the story, Darlington and who is Alex’s father being the biggies, but does a pretty good job of tying up all of the loose threads. This has been announced to be the first in a series of novels, and I am proud to say that I am in for the duration. “Let’s go to Hell!”