I have a couple of Leigh Bardugo books sitting in my massive TBR pile already but the ingredients of this new book were basically catnip to me (ivy league campus, secret societies, magic, murder mystery) so I put it on hold at the library and waited rather than read what I already had. Based on the way it’s listed on Goodreads it’s the first in a series and I’ve already tagged it’s untitled sequel as “want to read.” In the world of Ninth House, secret societies e.g. Skull and Bones are not only real but use magic to exert control over the world in varying ways. There are eight of these societies on the campus of Yale along with Lethe, the titular “Ninth House” whose job it is to watch over the other 8 and make sure they never kill any innocent civilians or let their magic get loose in the world.
The story centers on Galaxy “Alex” Stern, who is the last person you’d expect to find as a Yale freshman. Raised by a hippie mother, Alex’s world involved heavy drug use, shady people and much worse. After a catastrophic event brings her to the attention of Lethe house, she is recruited into their ranks. An off-campus murder the night of a ritual is written off as unrelated to the societies but Alex can’t shake the feeling that there is more to it. Despite being told by her superiors and her police contact to leave it alone she dives into the investigation and finds herself involved in the misdeeds of privileged college kids, hundred year old ghosts and a conspiracy that might shake the foundations of Lethe House.
I enjoyed the hell out of this book. Alex Stern is an often infuriating character but her flaws are more than earned. She does things that she absolutely should not do but you understand why. I want to wrap myself up in the world of the Yale and its secret societies even if I don’t trust most of the members any further than I could throw them. Ninth House is a great beginning to what I hope is an exciting series.