Melanie's Reviews > Ninth House

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
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bookshelves: contemporary, new-adult, arc, book-expo-2019, read-in-2019, dark, ghosts, magic, paranormal


ARC acquired at Book Expo in exchange for an honest review.

“There were always excuses for why girls died.”

Ninth House is a love letter to living and surviving unspeakable abuse. This is a book all about trauma, and PTSD, and healing, in any and every way that you can. This is a book for victims, who have felt they will never get the piece of them back that someone forcefully took. This is a book for anyone who was willing to do anything to feel empowered after something horrible occurred. This is a book about the dark and the light and the in between phases a human can go through to get their voice back.

But this is also a story about a girl named Galaxy Stern, or Alex, who is from LA, but is now across the country and studying at Yale. The book continuously switches back and forth from Late Spring to Winter, so we get to see what happened in the past and the ramifications it causes for present day Alex.

In the Winter, we get to see her starting Yale, meeting a man named Darlington, and learning all about the nine secret societies at Yale, with secret, magical rituals that they perform. Lethe recruits a new freshman every three years to join sixteen seniors every year, where they gain knowledge of the occult. And Alex was picked because she has a very sought-after ability, that she has been running from her entire life. Also, it is Lethe House’s responsibility as the ninth house to keep the others in order and make sure they aren’t doing bad things.

In the Spring, everything is different, and Alex is struggling with the weight of so much. From missing people, to ghosts who are paying her too much attention, to a girl being murdered that Alex can’t help but think was because of one of the secret societies, and she is willing to do anything to solve the case. Even if that means making a deal with one of the ghosts she is supposed to be ignoring.

“But the trouble had begun on a night in the full dark of winter, when Tara Hutchins died and Alex still thought she might get away with everything.”

Sounds pretty amazing, right? And I’m telling you, this book’s atmosphere, along with the campus setting, it was a perfect combination. Also, you all know that I think Leigh’s writing is a tier above most. The quotes I was able to pull from this book? They take the breath from my lungs even upon rereading them.

Also, this book has a beautiful discussion about privilege and power dynamics. Leigh does not hold back truth of what white, rich, privileged boys and how they feel they are entitled to any and everything, and God bless her for that. Cycles of abuse and entitlement truly can be passed down, leaving terrible things in their wake, which will impact so many victims for their entire lives. Unchecked privilege is a terrifying thing, friends. And Leigh is not scared to go there, in the terrible acts they commit, to the horrible ends they deserve, and I really appreciated it, and it may have been my favorite element of this book.

“Beautiful boys who should be happy, who wanted for nothing but still found things to take.”

But you all are probably wondering why I gave this book three stars. I’m going to be brutally honest, not much happened in this book, and surely enough didn’t happen for this book to be almost 500 pages. I feel like you could easily cut this book in half and it would have been way more impactful and way more exciting to read. As much as I loved the healing of this book, and I loved the premise of secret societies all about the occult, I just felt so damn bored by reading this book. It started to feel like a chore to pick up, and this book took me twice the amount of time it would normally take me to read.

It also started to feel so formulaic, where something really bad and heartbreaking would happen (past or present) then we’d have 50+ pages of nothing, and then something even worse happens, then 50+ of nothing. I will never lessen anyone’s trauma or how they choose to write and heal about it, but this book just made me feel nothing and then immeasurably uncomfortably and sadness, back to back to back, and it made for a really not great reading experience for me. Also, my favorite character was for sure Darlington, and I really wish we could have seen so much more of him. And lastly, the ending sort of wrapped this story up, I guess? But it just left me desiring so much more, and not in a good way if I’m being honest.

So, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. I picked this book up the day before twitter exploded about the trigger warnings. I will be honest, it made for such a strange reading experience, because I felt like everyone was looking at me, even though I was only 100 pages into this book. At the end of this review, like always, I will have all the trigger warnings that I found listed. This is a dark book, with very dark themes and elements, and some extremely dark scenes. Alex truly has horrible things happen to her and her loved ones throughout her short life. I highly recommend you make sure you are in a safe headspace before picking this one up, because a few of these triggers are not my own, but they still really bothered me to read.

“People didn’t need magic to be terrible to each other.”

Overall, this was a disappointment for me. This was easily my most anticipated release of 2019, besides Queen of Nothing, and maybe I just put it on a pedestal subconsciously. I do think this one will be polarizing upon release, and I have friends who love this more than me and dislike this more than me. Honestly, I’m in this weird middle ground where I loved the setting and atmosphere, but I didn’t love the story or characters. I will probably still pick up the next installment, I think I’m just going to go into it with lower expectations.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Content and Trigger Warnings: drug use, overdosing, murder, death, loss of a loved one, rituals, gore, PTSD depiction, grief depiction, self-harm, bloodletting, rape, child (12) rape (it is only two pages, but it is very graphic), statutory rape (15), sexual assault, forced sexual assault on video, talk of suicide, blackmail, physical abuse, a magical date rape drug, forced eating of human waste (to a rapist), and racism (always in a negative light).
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Reading Progress

March 29, 2018 – Shelved
March 29, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
March 29, 2018 – Shelved as: contemporary
March 29, 2018 – Shelved as: new-adult
June 11, 2019 – Shelved as: arc
June 11, 2019 – Shelved as: book-expo-2019
June 11, 2019 – Shelved as: read-in-2019
July 30, 2019 – Started Reading
July 30, 2019 – Shelved as: dark
July 30, 2019 – Shelved as: ghosts
July 30, 2019 – Shelved as: magic
July 30, 2019 – Shelved as: paranormal
July 31, 2019 –
page 250
54.59% ""Books are allowed to be dark and deal with heavy subjects, and books should have trigger warnings." - Laura 💛

(I am enjoying this, but it feels so weird to read while this *conversation* is happening! Especially when the quote above is absolutely perfect and sums up my feelings.)"
August 16, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 113 (113 new)


Taasia ✨ this review is basically me, ngl


Melanie Taasia wrote: "this review is basically me, ngl"

Hehehehe, right? Ahhh! It's going to be so good, Taasia love! 💖xx


message 3: by Markie (new) - added it

Markie Hicks I can’t wait even tho I still need to read Six Of Crows and Crooked Kingdom😅


message 4: by Melanie (new) - added it

Melanie I still have Crooked Kingdom and King of Scars to read, but I'm super curious about this one, since I never read a book by her that isn't Grisha related.


Halle YES this cover is a m o o d


Wilybookwitch Leigh bardugo is one amazing author. And I can't wait to read this! 😍


message 7: by etta (new) - added it

etta The cover feels like a concept..I expected a lil more but I know the inside will be great so it’s not super important 💘


message 8: by Penny (new) - added it

Penny YESSSS! This is happening! I have a mighty need, my gurl! <333


⭐Anni⭐ (Book Princess) Omg 😍 I'd love to meet her one day. Hope you'll enjoy the book!


Tilly So jealous!!! I love the cover and cannot wait for this book!!


Melanie Markie wrote: "I can’t wait even tho I still need to read Six Of Crows and Crooked Kingdom😅"

You have some good reading ahead of you, beautiful! 💖xx


Melanie Melanie wrote: "I still have Crooked Kingdom and King of Scars to read, but I'm super curious about this one, since I never read a book by her that isn't Grisha related."

I hope you love ALL of these things, but I especially hope we love this one, beautiful! 💖xx


Melanie Halle wrote: "YES this cover is a m o o d"

You get me, bb, you get me. 💖xx


Melanie Ashoora wrote: "Leigh bardugo is one amazing author. And I can't wait to read this! 😍"

Hard agree, sweetheart! 💖xx


Melanie etta wrote: "The cover feels like a concept..I expected a lil more but I know the inside will be great so it’s not super important 💘"

This is the PERFECT analysis, in my opinion! 💖xx


Melanie Penny wrote: "YESSSS! This is happening! I have a mighty need, my gurl! <333"

I have the highest of hopes that we are both going to love this one, sweetheart! Ahhh! I love you! 💖xx


Melanie ⭐Anni⭐ (Book Princess) wrote: "Omg 😍 I'd love to meet her one day. Hope you'll enjoy the book!"

Thank you so much, sweetheart! I hope you're having the happiest of reading! 💖xx


Melanie Tilly wrote: "So jealous!!! I love the cover and cannot wait for this book!!"

I hope we both love it, Tilly! 💖xx


message 19: by Denisdaily (new)

Denisdaily amazing review incredible!


message 20: by Autumn Byrd (new) - added it

Autumn Byrd Have you seen the Booktopia Exclusive cover yet?! It's absolutely stunning and I think I prefer that cover over this one just because the snake pops a little more. Either way, I think they're gorgeous and I'm so excited for this book!


message 21: by Lady_Am (new) - added it

Lady_Am Ahhh so jealous! I can't wait for this book to come out.


message 22: by Lili (new)

Lili  Marcus You already have a copy... and here I am trying to magic the calendar so it's October already.


Susan I'm torn on whether or not to read this review. I want to but I don't want to because I don't want to know anything. I don't know what to do but to pace on it. BAH!


message 24: by Murshdd (new)

Murshdd does anybody play fortnite


message 25: by Kate (new) - added it

Kate Oh No!!!!! Can't wait to hear thoughts. I was really excited about this one too


message 26: by ChrissyM (new) - added it

ChrissyM Interested in reading your review.


message 27: by Cali (new) - added it

Cali Teer oh no!!!


melhara nooooooooo!


message 29: by Ericka (new) - added it

Ericka ouch. so curious about your review!


message 30: by Kayla (new)

Kayla Melser I am sorry that it didn't live up to what you wanted it to be. I am interested in seeing what your thoughts on it were though. :)


Claudia ✨ what, how?? I really really loved it and am even more curious about your review now! x


message 32: by Jordan (new) - added it

Jordan Dailey This makes me so sad


message 33: by Leeya (new)

Leeya Very curious about your review.


message 34: by Bailey (new) - added it

Bailey HOW CAN THIS BE? 😭


message 35: by Haley (new)

Haley Nooooooooo 😩😩😩 not the news I wanted to hear!!


message 36: by Makenna (new)

Makenna Fournier yikesssssss


message 37: by Ivy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ivy Valentiny Melanie nooooo 😭😭😭😭 I’m shook


Taasia ✨ Right now, all I can say is Y i k e s


message 39: by Kamali (new)

Kamali Nooooooo I was so looking forward to this


Laetitia ʕ·ᴥ·ʔ I'm scared. I'll be waiting for your review 😅😅


Last Book Marauder Oh noooo! Now I'm nervous!


message 42: by JW (new)

JW Oh, no! This is one of my most anticipated reads. :(


message 43: by mike scully (new)

mike scully .


message 44: by mike scully (new)

mike scully ..


Amanda Oh no :(


Abbey Oh my days KEY!!! I pre-ordered this but I’m getting slight nervous with the recent reviews I’ve seen 😬 xx


pukepp.l . xkj


m


message 48: by Christina (new)

Christina wow I really want to read this review now! I have a weird personal connection to this book so I’m anxious to see what you think of it...


☀︎El In Oz☀︎ I can’t wait to hear your opinions!


Sophie Riggsby / allthingsequilateral Oh no, I’ve been hearing some not-so-good things about it from trusted reviewers like you. Looking forward to your detailed review.


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