Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
Narrator: Lauren Fortgang, Michael David Axtell
Series: Alex Stern #1
Published by MacMillan on October 8, 2019
Length: 16 hours, 21 minutes
Amazon, Audible, Audiobook, Barnes & Noble, Apple
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.
Alex Stern can barely catch a break; the world is forcing her to drink from the fire hose from a very young age. Everyone seems to be using her and no one caring for her. Fortunately, Alex is smart and more than that, a survivor. I felt for her and I came to like her. She cared about more than herself. I love that she was able to develop some true friends.
Ninth House is a engrossing whirlwind. The chapters jump around a bit in time and that made it difficult at the beginning with also trying to understand the world and characters. I’m not sure of the purpose of the jumps other than to perhaps connect pieces of related evidence? Once I got going, I was captured though.
The magic world is rich and diverse. It’s scary in its use and ability to control other people. Of course, the power is irresistible to those who are the worst candidates to have it. The greedy and unconscionable care only about themselves. Politics and money are harsh and ruthless. Of course, this is not so much different than the non-magical world for Alex. She recognizes the games and strategies all too well. Triggers are everywhere in this dark fantasy – beware!
I loved the complex varieties of magic and its rules, the characters with their variable moral integrity in many shades of gray. It’s easy enough for them to feel entitled when the magical know about things most people don’t believe are possible, but they can do or control. The mysteries were more difficult to solve as regular rules of evidence aren’t as helpful when magic is involved.
The Alex Stern series is just begun and clearly (to me) there is so much for Alex to learn about this world and her own magic abilities. She is not like the others. This is definitely a series to read in order and I can’t wait for more. I have so many questions, and the next book is not until June of 2021!
I have heard of Lauren Fortgang and think of her favorably. Yet I think this is the first audio I have listened to her. My impressions were accurate enough as I enjoyed this very much. Both narrators gave fine performances with comfortable voices. Fortgang had more work her as much of the story was spent in Alex’s thoughts and memories. The rest was small bits from Darlington’s thoughts. The small parts of dialogue were comfortable whether male or female voices. I did slow this to 1.25x rather than my normal 1.5x speed. I think this was due to the complexity of the story as much as the narration.
Listen to a clip:
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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2019 Audiobooks
- 2019 Releases