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What: Ninth House (Alex Stern #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Who: Gollancz

When: October 9th 2019

How: A copy of this novel was provided by Hachette Australia for review.

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. By age twenty, in fact, 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 elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

You know what? I just hated this book. There, I said it. I hated Ninth House. I’m beginning to believe I should simply give up on Leigh Bardugo because I just… don’t like her books. I suppose I will go into the reasons why this book was utterly and completely not for me. So here they are:

1) It’s pretentious AF but isn’t good enough to pull it off

It just isn’t. This book tries so hard to be literary but it just comes off like a try-hard. Including big, fancy words does not a literary book make.

2) There’s no talking

I don’t necessarily need speech on every page but if people aren’t talking then the words on that page need to make up for it. And the words in Ninth House didn’t. They were boring and didn’t provide me with anything that made me go aha, yes, I don’t mind that there’s no talking because important shit is being revealed in other, better ways. I just wanted some goddamn talking to break up the monotony of this novel.

3) Alex is as flat as a pancake

Never have I read a book where the main character is so… nothing. There was nothing about Alex that made her feel real. She very much felt like a fictional character to me and her motivations were so non-existent. The entire novel plodded along with barely a hint of any character development until about the last fifth, which was really just too late for me to believe in. Being angry is an element of a character. To base an entire person off only angry actions – pass.

4) The story

What story? There was no story. There was not one thing happening in this book. There were Events, but these Events were singular, with almost nothing connecting them except to make Alex believe one or more magical houses were responsible for said Event and thus the murder.

5) The ending

Which is somewhat tied into point number three because for someone who really didn’t give a flying hot turd about Darlington Alex’s decision to go on a quest to get him back seems incredibly incongruent with the fictional person I had just read about for 450 pages.


So there you have it. The main five reasons why I hated Ninth House. I really did give it a try. I wanted to DNF it from about the moment I started it but everyone told me it would get better. It didn’t.

© 2019, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.

trigger warning

sexual assault/rape of a minor, sexual assault (under the influence of a drug unknowingly consumed), drug use, murder, graphic depictions of blood and gore, torture, animal attack, attempted murder, vomiting, death, self harm, forced consumption of human faeces, racism, and suicide

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Posted on: November 8, 2019 • By: Chiara

4 Responses to Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo: Hard Pass

  1. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this one! I’m not interested in this book and now I’m glad I didn’t fell for the hype. I hate reading long monologues and angry characters so this book is so not for me. I hope your next read will be better!

  2. I’ve never read anything by this author, but I’ve just never really been interested. I’m sorry you slogged through this and it never got better. Having a character that’s just…there…and angry all the time…yeah, that’s not going to work for me. And I’m very much a dialogue person so if there’s going to be description and very little talking, it had better be interesting!


    • Chiara says:

      Honestly I don’t think I will try another one of her books! I LOVED Shadow and Bone when I read it but even its sequels never fit with me properly. And after not liking this or her Six of Crows series I think I need to let her go, haha. Yeah, I love dialogue as well so that was just another thing I didn’t like about this one!

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