**CW: rape, sexual assault, abuse, self-harm, murder, violence, vomiting, gore**
I like Leigh Bardugo as an author. I have not, in fact, read everything she has written, but just like about every human on earth, I have really enjoyed the Six of Crows duology and could easily have seen her become one of my household favourite authors. When it was announced that she had written her first adult book in a sort of dark academia setting, I was fully on board. And it’s not that this book didn’t deliver on what it advertised, it just turned out that I wasn’t really the right reader for it.
First of all, you get thrown into a world you understand very little of. Bardugo is great at creating a whole universe with magic, and rules that apply to it, that feels real and accessible, but I was just lost. I’ve never been to the Yale campus and even with a map, there were so many details I had a hard time connecting with. Aside from Gilmore Girl’s Rory, I really have no connection to it if I think about it some more. But then there are also the actual magical societies. I thought we would gradually get eased into the matter, but instead you start into the midst of it all, and believe me when I say it is a mess.
Aside from the confusing societies, it takes a while to get to know the characters and therefore really get into the story. To me, connecting with the people on the page and their journey is so important, but there were so many blanks that eventually got filled in, but it took me a good 100 pages to really get into it.
Alex Stern, the main character of the series and who’s real name is actually Galaxy, is a mystery wrapped in an enigma. Her past is hard to swallow and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I understand her anger and her way of keeping people at bay, but at the same time, I felt like I was kept at bay sometimes. That’s maybe why I found golden boy Darlington (who I need back desperately and who will be the main reason I will pick up the sequel) and quiet but caring Dawes more accessible. Also, Turner was a big upside of the book for me, because he felt like the lawful good person the story needed. But I enjoyed the dynamic among all characters and the way we still got to explore how some of these relationships were formed. Where a lot of things felt like pre-established fixtures, at least this was something that felt like it was still in the making.
“I let you die. To save myself, I let you die. That is the danger in keeping company with survivors.”
So, there were some aspects I really enjoyed (especially the emancipation and handling of different female characters) and others I did not understand or connect to as much as I had hoped. The fact that a lot of it was presented in the shape of a paranormal crime story maybe didn’t help me personally. I understood that murder and mayhem would be involved in Ninth House, but I wasn’t quite expecting it to be so much like a detective story. Those of you who know me, know that I get a little bored with the investigation-type plots. However, I can see how a lot of readers would be the opposite of me and enjoy those the most!
In conclusion, I would say that this book is A LOT. There is blood and gore and death around every corner. I understand if it is too much to stomach for some people, especially those who are more used to YA content. If you aren’t sure, I would just take a look at what different people who’s opinion you trust are saying about it and then make up your own mind. Or go in completely blind!
“Take courage; no one is immortal”
Fazit: 3.5/5 stars! Maybe this just wasn’t for me as much as other readers, but I would still continue with the series!
Have you read Ninth House? Have you read other books by Leigh Bardugo? What do you think about her first take on adult fiction?