Ninth House (Alex Stern #1) by Leigh Bardugo
Ninth House is the first “adult” novel by Leigh Bardugo. Bardugo’s writing retains the flavor of the young adult novels she is most well-known for and other than the slightly older protagonist, I’m not sure what defines Ninth House as an “adult” novel. This is in no way a criticism – I very much enjoyed her other books and I enjoyed Ninth House. The shift seemed to be highlighted by the publisher but I’m guessing more as a marketing ploy.
We join Galaxy “Alex” Stern’s story already in progress, with mysterious injuries and an even more mysterious background. Bardugo writes with a strong sense of place and the secret societies of Yale provide an excellent base. She doesn’t waste time with a lot of explanation of the rules of this world, instead relying on context and the protagonists learning curve to inform the reader. The technique works well with the murder mystery that ostensibly forms the backbone of the book. We learn things as Alex learns them.
Ninth House is very clearly set up as the beginning of a series. I thought it took just bit too long to get really rolling and some of the secondary and tertiary characters need some development but overall, I found it an enjoyable read and I am interested in where the story is headed.