I feel like I should start this review with some trigger warnings. Ninth House contains multiple descriptions of sexual assault, including assault of a child, bullying, and descriptions of drug use and abuse. I think the book handled these subjects as well as can be expected. I generally don’t read books involving rape or child abuse, so I wouldn’t have read Ninth House if I had known beforehand.
Ninth House is about a young woman named Galaxy (Alex) Stern who is admitted to Yale and inducted to the secret society Lethe because she can see ghosts. Lethe is responsible for making sure Yale’s other secret societies don’t harm civilians during their magical rites. As a child, Alex was bullied and ostracized by her peers because of her ability to see ghosts. Then she discovered that drugs would allow her not to see them. Alex found life as a drug user to be a miserable existence. Despite feeling completely out of her depth at Yale and Lethe, she knows they are her key to a normal life, so she’s desperate to make it work. Her plan goes to hell when one of her friends disappears and a local girl is murdered.
Ninth House is a fascinating book. It grabbed me from the beginning with a description of one of the rituals. Alex is a complicated character and I found it easy to sympathize with her. I’m sure some people won’t like her, but I did. I rooted for her even when she did unsavory things because it seemed like she was doing them to right wrongs or just to survive. The descriptions of magic, rituals, and the secret societies were great. I loved Alex’s friends. The ending made logical sense but I found it a little odd. I was annoyed it ended on a cliffhanger, but I guess maybe that’s to be expected since it’s labeled book 1.