Secret societies and magic have existed at Yale for centuries…didn’t you know? Don’t worry, most of the students don’t either. But the members of the secret societies are elbow deep in literal blood magic that keeps their alumni wealthy, famous, well-connected, well-liked….you name it (Bush the second’s election makes SO MUCH more sense now). Who keeps this kind of power in check? College students aren’t exactly famous for their good judgment.
Enter Lethe House, the ninth house, created as a watchdog to keep the other houses in check. With just 3 full-time members and a couple of associates planted in the “real world”, Lethe House makes sure the secret societies don’t go too far.
Alex Stern is the newest recruit of Lethe House, and she could not be more out of place at Yale. While her ability to see ghosts would ostensibly make her a natural for Lethe, the drug habit she developed to deal with her ability to, you know, see ghosts – and the failure to finish high school, running away from home, occasional stealing, stripping, dealing, etc that accompanied said drug habit – means she doesn’t fit in most places in New Haven.
In this setting, Alex is tasked with unraveling 3 central mysteries, the first of which is a murder of a local female townie. The victim, written off as just one of “those girls” that gets murdered (ladies be gettin’ murdered), is dismissed by the Yale dean as a “town” murder, unrelated to the secret societies – but Alex can’t let it go…
I’ve never ready anything by this author before, so i had no expectations going in, just a love of misfits doin magic, a curiosity about secret societies i’ll never belong to, and a sincere commitment to the literary thriller.
I’ll admit, it took me a solid 100 pages to get into, but then i was hooked. This book has everything I love in one place: dark stories, dark humor, female heroines, magic, heaps upon heaps of literary references, scary parts, mysteries, villains, jump scares, suspense, feminism, critique of classism, Dante, exclusivity, real world references, Tana French, “The Secret History”, “Magicians”, Harry Potter.
It has a perfect closing line and a hilarious index. There is a sequel scheduled for release in 2021, which i am simultaneously thrilled/sad about – i want more of this world and these characters, but i also love this gem of a story and don’t want it to be diluted. But I’ll be pre-ordering that sequel, that’s for sure!