Official book description:
Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?
Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.
Leigh Bardugo has become a popular name in YA fantasy, with her Grisha trilogy, the duology Six of Crows, as well as the Nikolai duology (which is still incomplete). This is her attempt of paranormal fantasy aimed at adults, and in case the black and grey cover left you in any doubt, it doesn’t take long before the reader is made very aware that this book is “not for kids”. Our protagonist, Galaxy “Alex” Stern has the rather unusual ability to see ghosts, which has mostly been a horrible burden throughout her life so far, making her a seemingly mentally unstable outcast who ended up hanging with the wrong crowd and numbing her senses with drugs just to get some peace.
Nevertheless, the sole survivor of a horrible multiple homicide in a sketchy drug den, Alex is given the opportunity to come to prestigious Yale, precisely because her ability to see and sense ghosts is useful to those in power there. There are nine secret magical societies at the university, and Alex is a member of Lethe, the one that “polices” the others. It’s also the smallest of the societies, with hardly any members. The senior member, who trains the younger one, is known as Virgil. The younger member is Dante. Alex is the Dante to Daniel “Darlington” Arlington’s Virgil, and they don’t exactly have the warmest or friendliest of relationships. Unlike Alex, Darlington has to drink a special potion to see ghosts. The potion is both foul-tasting and can be lethal if over-used. There’s also the fact that Darlington seems to come from a privileged and wealthy background, while Alex was pretty much literally living on the streets before she got the chance to come to Yale. There’s also Dawes, the shy research assistant who seems infatuated with Darlington and rather hostile towards Alex.
Full review on my blog. Also, yay for finally reaching my half Cannonball, more than three months after I finished the book in question.