“Ninth House,” Leigh Bardugo’s first novel for adults, is a terrific fantasy filled with magic, great characters, and some detailed world-building that is both scary and fascinating.
Galaxy “Alex” Stern is an outsider to Yale’s culture. Raised in poverty in Los Angeles, she is offered a full ride scholarship to attend the University. And oh yeah—Alex can see ghosts. And talk to them. Other people can see ghosts temporarily, and only if they use dangerous magic. Alex can always see them.
Alex becomes part of Lethe, an organization that observes Yale’s secret societies. These societies locate their buidings over land where magical forces are magnified. The problem is that these are college students experimenting with magic. They don’t always think before the act. Occult experiments don’t always go as planned. Someone needs to monitor their activities.
This is such a wonderful concept, and Bardugo makes the most of it. Does one of those societies use human entrails in order to divine the stock market? Yes! It is details like these that make this such a great read. Bardugo is constantly inventive with her magic, leading the reader down all sorts of dangerous and occult corridors.
Alex’s friendship with Daralington is the soul of this book, while a murder mystery drives the plot. Alex becomes convinced that a young woman’s murder somehow involves the Houses of Veil. But then when her partner disappears, she is left on her own to solve the case.
This isn’t Harry Potter magic—this is a grimy, dangerous street magic that is difficult to control. “Ninth House” is a fantastic beginning to a new series.