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Ninth House

Series: Alex Stern, Book 1
Length: 16 hrs and 21 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (804 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

2019 Amazon.com Best Books of the Year

"Ninth House is the best fantasy novel I’ve read in years, because it’s about real people. Bardugo’s imaginative reach is brilliant, and this story - full of shocks and twists - is impossible to put down." (Stephen King)

This program includes a bonus conversation with the author.

The mesmerizing adult debut from Leigh Bardugo, a tale of power, privilege, dark magic, and murder set among the Ivy League elite.

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 20, 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.

©2019 Leigh Bardugo (P)2019 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

"Ninth House is one of the best fantasy novels I’ve read in years. This book is brilliant, funny, raw and utterly magnificent - it's a portal to a world you’ll never want to leave." (Lev Grossman, New York Times best-selling author of The Magicians)

"Ninth House is the best thing I’ve read in a long time. There’s so much magic here that you'll begin to feel it seeping into the room around you as you read, and characters so real you ’ll practically hear their voices in your ear. Leigh Bardugo has written a book so delicious, so twisty, and so immersive I wouldn’t blame you for taking the day off to finish it." (Kelly Link, author of Magic for Beginners and Get in Trouble)

"In this mesmerizing novel, Leigh Bardugo introduces us to Alex, a high-school dropout who gets a free ride to Yale because of a unique talent. Bardugo's New Haven is plausible and frightening, and I was one rapt reader." (Charlaine Harris, best-selling author of the True Blood series)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Good plot but confusing

I try so hard to love Leigh Bardugo's books like everyone else, but something about the writing confuses me and I struggle to like the characters. It seems like the characters are made to be deeply flawed and yet you root for them, which is fine, but I don't get the redeeming qualities and end up not caring about them or whether they die. The time jumping back and forth was kind of rough for me and I think if I read it again I might understand more.
I did love the way magic was intertwined with reality. It was smooth and believable and I want to tell fantasy authors, "See? You can write fantasy that takes place in our modern world and it works!" The narrators for the audiobook were nice to listen to and I did appreciate getting a male narrator for Darlington's point of view. I wish we learned more about his and Alex's relationship and what happened to him. Maybe next book will be easier to understand with the foundation already being laid.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic adult debut!

Ninth House was everything and more than what I was expecting. It was dark, gritty, and scary in a non-traditional horror way-but in a way that reminds us that sometimes the scariest monsters are living among us, cloaked as friends, family, and acquaintances. Highly recommend, but HEED THE TRIGGER WARNINGS if you need to because it is dark.

Audio: Lauren Fortgang - She's a stunner when it comes to narrating and Ninth House was no exception. Her cadence is perfect for the mood of the book and each character has their own distinct voice.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent magical world building

My favorite supernatural reading is, paradoxically, stuff that hews closest to real life. So I’d say this series is a bit more like Harry Potter’s world or Charlaine Harris’s Sookie series than, say, The Magicians—which hauls the reader off into a complete fantasy world. I like feeling of real life being lit up, like awesome things are just around the corner, rather than feeling like I escaped completely. Being given a scholarship to Yale when you’re a poor outsider IS a kind of magic, and this novel shows it to be awe-full and even dangerous. Wonderful characters, a fine story arc leave me looking for the next in the series. And the readers were perfect!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Performance

The beginning was really hard to get into but once you get past it it's worth it. I'm also so glad that Lauren was chosen to read this book.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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confusing

Book read like the middle of a story, had trouble keeping up. Tried multiple times, but eventually I just gave up.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Slow

The beginning of the book is very confusing. It feels as though the author started in the middle. It takes a lot of concentration to understand where and why the main character is at the place she's at. Having said that, the story is
S L O W L Y developed and the characters are one dimensional. I could not finish the book. It put me to sleep.

7 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Wow, couldn't break away!

What a compelling story full of intrigue, sometimes sinister secret societies, and gripping magic! I was hooked on the story from the moment I was dropped into this world with Alex and company, wondering what had brought us to the hutch with an injured young woman hiding out. I loved every twist and unfolding of plot, the prickly characters who grew into beloved ones, as the smooth operators took on a loathsome quality that had me reeling and wondering just who I could trust as the story grew. The strings that unraveled as the layers of story were unfurled never fully revealed the truth until the very end. It kept me guessing and gasping, and I loved every second.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Fun for Autumn

New England, secret societies, private/privlaged University, ghosts, demons, twists, murder, everything you want for Halloween.

6 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Unbreak My Heart

I am wallowing in despair, because if you asked me who should be the Queen of my world, Leigh Bardugo would be on the short list, no doubt. But this has been the most frustrating Saturday ever, trying to force myself through this book. If it had been written by anyone else, I would have chosen to DNF, but I kept hanging on to try to find more redeeming qualities.

Unfortunately, this was a really difficult story for me to get engaged and stay engaged with. The characters are many and all underdeveloped, in my opinion. The storyline is tedious and convoluted, made worse by the length of the book. I spent several hours trying to convince myself that I’m the problem, but I really don’t think it was just me. All I wanted was to spend the whole day relaxing and reading an awesome book, so I brought the right attitude to the moment just didn’t somehow, in a surprise twist, manage to pick the right book.

So long story short, even though this had some moments that were really interesting, and I could see glimpses of talent and world building and complex and interesting characters, overall, it was not a win for me. Had this not been written by Bardugo, I probably would have DNFed in the first ¼ of the story, saved myself most of a Saturday, and awarded this only 1 star. The 2nd star here is for the moments of amazing writing and storytelling that do exist, even though they tend to be too few and far between.

I do strongly recommend Bardugo’s other books, to anyone who is new to this author. Definitely don’t start with this one, since it seems to be pretty polarizing, and it’s hard saying which side you will fall towards.

The narration is pretty good, very easy to understand, mildly emotional.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Leigh Bardugo continues to slay!

4.5 ⭐️ Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo is her adult fantasy debut (if you haven’t read her YA Fantasy series Six of Crows series I highly recommend it). This one is definitely darker, tackling serious subject matter like sexual assault & addiction ( make sure to check TC warnings if you’re worried about reading content).

Set on the campus of Yale, Ninth House imagines that the school's secret societies are no longer just boys clubs but groups that create dark magic to manipulate stock markets and The New York Times bestseller list, see into the future and more. Alex Stern is a freshman when she enters Yale’s dangerous Lethe House, one of nine secret societies that practice magic; it polices the other houses on campus.

I really felt connected to the main character, Galaxy “Alex” Stern, a strong but flawed young woman. The story takes place in New Haven at Yale University, focusing on its secret societies. There’s a murder mystery at the center of the story with a dual timeline at play. Lots of dark magic. The only reason I didn’t give this 5 is because I found the story disjointed at times & I think it could have been more effective with about 75 fewer pages at least. Overall, Bardugo is extremely talented and I’m excited to see where this series goes. I want more Darlington in the next book!

5 of 8 people found this review helpful