ARC Review: NINTH HOUSE by Leigh Bardugo

I won an ARC at YALC, which hasn’t affected my opinions.

Ninth House.png
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: yes - first book
CW: Rape (including of a child and under the influence of a drug), overdose, suicide, self-harm, gore


ninth house

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.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here. Find on Amazon UK, the Book Depository, and UK (affiliate links.)


Probably the first thing to say is if you go into this book expecting something like the GrishaVerse, you are in for a shock.

This book is dark. Very dark.

It’s all in keeping with the world, but one event (the child rape) felt unnecessary. I’m not sure what it added to the story.

Despite this, I really enjoyed it because, at its heart, NINTH HOUSE is a murder mystery. Who killed Tara Hutchins, and why? There were so many layers to the mystery, with all sorts of red herrings and new revelations. I couldn’t guess what was going to happen next, but I had to know.

The book is told from two perspectives in two timelines – Alex in the present and her mentor Darlington a few months ago. Alex’s POV is the main one, but having Darlington’s builds the backstory and provides the groundwork for the world. It also really helps control the flow of information (which is masterful).

The world is fabulous – as you’d expect from Leigh Bardugo. It’s our world, but not. The magic gives a really creepy, occult feel – made all the worse by knowing it’s set among the privilege and inequality of universities.

Read my reviews of other books by Leigh Bardugo:

For Young Adult:

The GrishaVerse:

DC Icons:

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