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Ninth House (Alex Stern Book 1) by [Leigh Bardugo]

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Ninth House (Alex Stern Book 1) Kindle Edition

4.4 4.4 out of 5 stars 18,784 ratings

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From the Publisher

Stephen King Quote

Editorial Reviews Review

An Amazon Best Book of October 2019: Leigh Bardugo made her mark writing bestselling young adult fantasy, but now she’s doing something a little different with Ninth House, her first adult novel. Bardugo uses Yale’s secret societies—their hidden rituals and the power of membership—to create the perfect setting for a story where elitism and the occult are intertwined. In Ninth House we meet Alex Stern, a young woman with nothing left to lose, who is given a strange second chance at a different life—as a freshman at Yale. Alex has been selected to attend not for her academic achievement, but rather to perform a dangerous task for which she is uniquely qualified: finding out who among the secret societies is resurrecting ancient dark magic. Ninth House is an epic read--sharp, dark, and incredibly atmospheric, with a gutsy protagonist and a conclusion that leaves the reader eager for more. --Seira Wilson, Amazon Book Review


"Ninth House is the best fantasy novel I’ve read in years, because it’s about real people. Bardugo’s imaginative reach is brilliant, and this story―full of shocks and twists―is impossible to put down." - Stephen King

"Ninth House is one of the best fantasy novels I’ve read in years. This book is brilliant, funny, raw and utterly magnificent ― it's a portal to a world you’ll never want to leave." - Lev Grossman, New York Times bestselling author of The Magicians

"Ninth House is the best thing I’ve read in a long time. There’s so much magic here that you'll begin to feel it seeping into the room around you as you read, and characters so real you ’ll practically hear their voices in your ear. Leigh Bardugo has written a book so delicious, so twisty, and so immersive I wouldn’t blame you for taking the day off to finish it." - Kelly Link, author of Magic for Beginners and Get in Trouble.

"Leigh Bardugo's Ninth House rocked my world. I could not get enough of sinewy, ghost-haunted Alex Stern, a heroine for the ages. With a bruised heart and bleeding knuckles, she risks death and damnation ― again and again ― for the people she cares about. I was cheering her on the whole way: from the first brilliant sentence of this book to the last. More, please, Ms. Bardugo." - Joe Hill, New York Times bestselling author of NOS4A2

"In this mesmerizing novel, Leigh Bardugo introduces us to Alex, a high-school dropout who gets a free ride to Yale because of a unique talent. Bardugo's New Haven is plausible and frightening, and I was one rapt reader." - Charlaine Harris, bestselling author of the True Blood series

"With an aura of both enchantment and authenticity, Bardugo's compulsively readable novel leaves a portal ajar for equally dazzling sequels." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B07LF64DZ2
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Flatiron Books (October 8, 2019)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ October 8, 2019
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 22445 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Sticky notes ‏ : ‎ On Kindle Scribe
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 476 pages
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.4 4.4 out of 5 stars 18,784 ratings

About the author

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Leigh Bardugo is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Ninth House and the creator of the Grishaverse (now a Netflix original series) which spans the Shadow and Bone trilogy, the Six of Crows duology, the King of Scars duology—and much more. Her short fiction has appeared in multiple anthologies including The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy. She lives in Los Angeles and is an associate fellow of Pauli Murray College at Yale University.

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Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5
18,784 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on November 26, 2019
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4.0 out of 5 stars Dark and Gritty - An exceptionally dark read!
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on November 26, 2019
It is no secret that I gravitate toward dark aesthetic. While it may not be what my brand exudes, it is a personal favorite of mine. Dark and moody aesthetics influence everything from my makeup choices, to my wardrobe, and even my Lightroom presets. Needless to say, I was immensely excited about Ninth House the minute I heard Leigh talk about it.

Overall, this book did not let me down. It is widely different from the Shadow and Bone trilogy as well as the Six of Crows duology. It is adult, gritty, and somewhat depressing, but most of all it is real. While there are obviously paranormal and magical elements – it is set in the real world, our world. It deals with real issues that are affecting people today including drug addiction, abusive relationships, mental illness, and rape and is not for the faint of heart.

The Plot
We meet Alex (or Galaxy) Stern as she struggles her way through her first year at Yale. She is not educationally qualified to be attending an Ivy League school, but has gotten wrapped in the seedy underground of the secret societies that take place at Yale. See, Alex has something that makes her unlike anyone else, she can see and interact with ghosts (or Grays as they are known in this world).

Because of her talent, she was recruited by Lethe House, which is the organization that monitors and regulates the paranormal activity of the other eight houses of Yale. The other houses each dabble in different types of magic to further their agenda. In fact, the book opens with Alex attending a ritual that involves members of one of the societies analyzing the insides of a kidnapped hospital patient so they can predict the future of the NY Stock Exchange and NASDAQ markets. This is only one instance of this ritual, which seems to happen routinely for the last several decades and can have different outcomes like improving the ranking of member’s book on the NY Times Best Sellers list or making a mediocre pop song rise on the chart.

However, something during this particular ritual is… off. We learn that Grays routinely attend these rituals and are drawn to anything that makes them feel more alive like pain, emotions, sex, and the like. They are usually complacent mostly because no one can see them except Alex and as long as someone does not form a connection with them, they are harmless. However, something goes wrong and the Grays get upset and begin beating on their otherworldly barrier. They become completely agitated and Alex is concerned that they will become violent. Thankfully, after a minute, the chaos stops.

Shaken, Alex leaves after the ritual is completed – but finds that sometime during the night (rituals always happen on Thursdays) that a New Haven resident was murdered. Something about the death does not sit well with Alex and while she cannot prove society involvement, she thinks there is more to meet the eye.

As she investigates the death, we get flashbacks to her bleak previous life, before Lethe, and her induction into the society by her mentor Darlington (who disappeared before the start of the book). Could Darlington’s disappearance be tied to the murder of the New Haven resident? Alex intends to find out, all while trying to maintain her job as the resident mediator for the societies and Yale as well as get by as a student and maintain at least passing grades.

The Review

Ninth House was an incredibly engrossing read. While I find myself being fairly good at being able to predict what will happen by the end of the novel, this one I was not successful at. It reads as a mystery and one I was not successful at solving.

I thought Alex was a very different character, since I usually stay away from reading contemporary fiction she came across as much more ‘real’ than I am used to reading and I enjoyed the change. However, because it was so real, it is a fairly depressing book. Dealing with so many terrible things that happened in her life leads her to be fairly downtrodden.

I do not consider myself to be easily triggered, and I do not think I was ‘triggered’ from this book as much as I was just depressed during certain parts. This book explicitly describes rape, drug use, physical abuse, and death. It is not a book that should be for the faint of heart and you need to go into reading this with a clear mind and understanding of what this book entails. Some parts are graphic and hard to read, others are entrancing, but none of it is particularly up lifting.

I have seen some reviews complaining that it was boring read – let me make this clear... This is part one of a long series. Leigh herself has said she hopes to write five or six novels in the Alex Stern series, and honestly this book reads like book one of a long series to me. It sets the groundwork, and the lore that I am sure will be important in the following books. Does that maybe bog some people down, yes, but if you look at it from the perspective of it being one of five or six books it makes sense. Maybe, if you are someone who does not appreciate so much backstory, wait until one or two more come out so you can power read through several at a time.

I do think this book is absolutely worth the read. It is creepy and dark and the perfect October read. We end on a little bit of a cliffhanger and I want to know what happens to these characters as there are SO many questions left unanswered.
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49 people found this helpful
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on October 18, 2019
45 people found this helpful

Top reviews from other countries

5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting, intellectual read.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on May 11, 2023
Megan King
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on November 9, 2019
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Megan King
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on November 9, 2019
This is a dark (like, very dark in some places) adult fantasy.

‘The Nineth House' follows a young Galaxy (Alex) Stern through her first year at Yale. She's been plucked from a dismal life with no prospects, and given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study at a prestigious university AND be part of a secret magic society (I mean, who wouldn't do that?).

The narrative is set in a few different timelines, and from two perspectives (Alex and Darlington). I particularly enjoyed this because I really thought Darlington was a bit of an arse to start with, but as I read his backstory I really connected with him.

Alex won me over pretty quickly, and her rash, crude personality really shone through!

What I particularly love about this book is the fact that you can really immerse yourself in the magic. However, the darkest part of this story has nothing to do with magic and secret societies; it's the harsh realities that some women are faced with.

This is definitely a book to savour and not devour!

It's a 5/5 for me!

Favourite Quote:

"Mors irrumat omnia."
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15 people found this helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I was not expecting the ghosts
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on May 27, 2023
2.0 out of 5 stars Such a disappointment. So dense
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on February 23, 2021
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2.0 out of 5 stars Such a disappointment. So dense
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on February 23, 2021
2.5 Stars
This rolled from weird, to strange, to turning my stomach in certain scenes, to being completely devoured by the story in others and off putting in others. This was, simply put, a strange ass read and conflicting when it comes to rating. Overall, I did enjoy this book, especially the second half once it really got going and I started to fully understand this world and got a handle of all the lingo within this fantasy horror world.

It was originally such a dense read that had so much exposition, yet it still took me so long to understand all of what was going on within this world. If it wasn’t for the second half, or last third and for something finally clicking, then I probably would’ve rated this lower. I went through such a sluggish reading period because of this book, whether it was because of the writing or the story I don’t know, but the relief I had when I finally finished it and was finically invested in this book was so satisfying. I am intrigued to read more of Leigh Bardugo books, just to see how her writing in those compare to this one and whether I enjoy those ones and the worlds in those, a lot more than I did when compared with this one.
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3 people found this helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I need the next book!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on May 24, 2020
3 people found this helpful
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