Review Blog

Dec 19 2019

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

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Alex Stern book 1. Orion, 2019. ISBN: 9781473227972.
(Age: Adult) Recommended. Good Reads Best Fantasy Winner, 2019. Themes: Sexual abuse, Rape, Drugs, Secret societies. Alex Stern, the sole survivor of a terrible multiple homicide, is in hospital when she is offered the chance to go to an elite university. Why her? She has been a school drop-out, has been involved with drugs and drug dealers and her life was going nowhere. Tasked with checking on the occult used in Yale's secret societies, she is drawn into a strange and different world, mentored by Darlington, who introduces her to the rituals of the rich and privileged people who belong to them.
Bardugo has previously written YA fantasy and this is her first foray into fiction for adults. It is dark and disturbing and certainly for adults. The themes that are explored against the fantasy background of the secret societies include rape, date rape and the attitude of rich and powerful young men who believe that they can have everything without any consequences. Alex however doesn't believe that and her revenge is challenging for the reader. The question of class, privilege and poverty is also explored, as Alex struggles with her classes and realises that the murder of a poor woman doesn't have the impact of that of a rich white person. Add in ghosts who haunt her, the quest to find who is a murderer, and the gradual realisation of her powers and the reader will be dragged along with Alex.
This is a book for readers who enjoy a mix of dark horror and fantasy, laced with themes that are pertinent in today's world.
Pat Pledger

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