Why Ninth House is the Perfect Dark Book for Fall

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. In fact, by age twenty, 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 prestigious universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. Their eight windowless “tombs” are the well-known haunts of the rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street’s biggest players. But their occult activities are more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive. They tamper with forbidden magic. They raise the dead. And, sometimes, they prey on the living.

I was fortunate enough to snag a copy of this book back in May at BookExpo (extra thanks to my coworkers who helped me get it). Once I got into the story, I devoured this book. Leigh Bardugo writes amazing stories full of clever worldbuilding and complex characters. Fans of Young Adult legend Bardugo beware, though—when the author says that this isn’t a young adult novel, she means it. There are some disturbing parts of this book. I will list content warnings at the end of this post. It’s an intense book, and please put your mental health first when considering picking up this book.

If you’re looking for a dark fantasy novel, however, this just might be the book for you. It’s filled with occult rituals, malevolent ghosts, unexplained supernatural powers, and traumatic college experiences. I honestly loved that this book took place in New Haven, Connecticut of all places. What an ordinary location for an extraordinary story.

Bardugo makes the book come alive, making you almost believe that New Haven, Connecticut of all places is a source of the supernatural. This book will throw you in headfirst and show you the ancient magic rituals and the complexity of being special just as it shows Alex Stern. Ninth House shines in both its plot and character development. When Alex’s ability to see ghosts gets her into Yale, the book dives headfirst into a different kind of worldbuilding, filled with secret societies and college exams. 

Inspired by her own experiences, conspiracy theorists, and the history of the Ivy League, Bardugo doesn’t hold back in her adult debut.

 If your idea of a perfect fall read includes dark, grungy magic, malevolent ghosts, and ancient societies, you should pick up this book right away. Leigh Bardugo may be just the author for you.

Content warnings: sexual assault, drug abuse, overdose, suicide, gore, violence, and murder. While I personally recommend this book, it definitely isn’t for everyone. Know your limits, and stay safe.