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Ninth House

Written by: Leigh Bardugo
Series: Alex Stern, Book 1
Length: 16 hrs and 21 mins
4.4 out of 5 stars (101 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A Locus Award finalist!

"Bardugo’s latest is a must-listen, introducing a haunting, Yale-based occult world populated with gloriously complicated characters.... A win-win-win, honestly." (Paste, best audiobooks of 2019)

From number one New York Times best-selling author Leigh Bardugo comes a mesmerizing tale of power, privilege, and dark magic set among the Ivy League elite.

This program includes a bonus conversation with the author.

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. In fact, by age 20, 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 prestigious universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. Their eight windowless "tombs" are the well-known haunts of the rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street’s biggest players. But their occult activities are more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive. They tamper with forbidden magic. They raise the dead. And, sometimes, they prey on the living.

Ninth House is the long-awaited adult debut by the beloved author of Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows. Leigh Bardugo will take her place alongside Lev Grossman and Deborah Harkness as one of the finest practitioners of literary fantasy writing today. 

A Macmillan Audio production from Flatiron Books 

"Ninth House is the best fantasy novel I’ve read in years, because it’s about real people. Bardugo’s imaginative reach is brilliant, and this story - full of shocks and twists - is impossible to put down." (Stephen King)

"Ninth House is one of the best fantasy novels I’ve read in years. This book is brilliant, funny, raw and utterly magnificent - it's a portal to a world you’ll never want to leave." (Lev Grossman, New York Times best-selling author of The Magicians)

"In this mesmerizing novel, Leigh Bardugo introduces us to Alex, a high-school dropout who gets a free ride to Yale because of a unique talent. Bardugo's New Haven is plausible and frightening, and I was one rapt reader." (Charlaine Harris, best-selling author of the True Blood series)

©2019 Leigh Bardugo (P)2019 Macmillan Audio

What the critics say

"Ninth House is the best thing I’ve read in a long time. There’s so much magic here that you'll begin to feel it seeping into the room around you as you read, and characters so real you ’ll practically hear their voices in your ear. Leigh Bardugo has written a book so delicious, so twisty, and so immersive I wouldn’t blame you for taking the day off to finish it." (Kelly Link, author of Magic for Beginners and Get in Trouble)

"Leigh Bardugo's Ninth House rocked my world. I could not get enough of sinewy, ghost-haunted Alex Stern, a heroine for the ages. With a bruised heart and bleeding knuckles, she risks death and damnation - again and again - for the people she cares about. I was cheering her on the whole way: from the first brilliant sentence of this book to the last. More, please, Ms. Bardugo." (Joe Hill, New York Times best-selling author of NOS4A2)

"With an aura of both enchantment and authenticity, Bardugo's compulsively readable novel leaves a portal ajar for equally dazzling sequels." (Kirkus Reviews starred review)

What listeners say about Ninth House

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Invested in the characters.

I am always intrigued when a popular YA author decides to leave their comfort zone and expand to a new audience. It is a competitive genre, with a very demanding fan base. How is this author going to adapt? Will they connect with me, someone beyond this YA target market? As for the second question, Bardugo did a fantastic job! She created a couple of characters: Alex and Darlington, that were exceptionally developed. I felt a connection to both. From my point of view, an author’s ability to create tangible characters is paramount, if I don’t connect with the characters, why should I care? Bardugo’s characters were layered, developed and tangible to me. As for my first question, I felt that Bardugo played it safe. With a university backdrop and a magical element, hell, the whole story revolves around magic, Bardugo surely will not isolate her existing fan base. She has even given the young girls a heartthrob to swoon over, Darlington. Ninth House really isn’t that much of a step away from YA Fantasy. That being said, the whole thing worked for me, in some ways it brought me back to my own university days, however, mine completely lacked the magic found at Yale. Ninth House is without a doubt the first in a series. Would I continue on with the series? Hell yeah! Bardugo has me invested in her characters now. Her plot development, with all of its twists and turns, worked well for me.

1 person found this helpful

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superb!

I have been a fan of Bardugo and loved this new direction and the fantastic narration. The characters are gritty, imperfect, and real. If you liked this you will love "Rivers of London" series by Ben Aaronovitch.

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The best mix of mystery, the unknown, and thrills!

While at first Ninth House may seem confusing, the web Bardugo weaves between Yale’s secret societies, ghosts (greys), and a character struggling to accept her own trauma and gifts creates an exceptionally thrilling and exciting piece of literature! So much fun to read and the setting truly comes to life in this audio adaptation.

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Amazing

Great story, refreshing take on a contemporary fantasy. I love the suspense mystery genre bend. Characters you want to fall in love with, settings that pull you from the mundane, prose that make you sink into your sofa, and a pace that keeps you riveted.

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Worth the struggle for all the surprises

Struggled to get into it. So confusing Didn't realize until 60% through that the story switches back and forth from present to past. It all wraps up in the very end and is very cool. Many surprises.

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The Dead Will Rise!

This is a fantastic book and the narrators are amazing. I’m a new Audible member and this was my first book. I AM HOOKED. Here’s to the undead: 5 gold stars!

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My Book of the Year

Every now and again and amazing story and a fabulous narrator come together and magic is created in the real world. Bravo!

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Dark and delightful

Ninth House leaves you hanging on every word. Obviously Lauren Fortgang is spectacular throughout. The main character is so relatable and the mysteries of secret societies had me googling what was fact and what was fiction.

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  • Tavan Hiestand
  • 2019-11-21

UTTERLY DISAPPOINTED.

I can't even finish this audiobook. I want to...it was considered the most highly anticipated book of the year! But, for me...it's a flop. I wish the author would have just told the story. Instead it begins in the middle...then beginning..and back and forth from there. It was like taking something great and tossing it into a blender. The narrator did a good job...it really was the style of writing that ruined the book for me.

29 people found this helpful

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  • Catherine
  • 2019-10-25

Flashbacks

There are to many flashbacks in this story. I would just start to get into the story and bam another flashback.

17 people found this helpful

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  • readbot5000
  • 2019-12-10

This Book: Totally Worth it

A number of reviewers on this site have lambasted the book for its style of using flashbacks and tying the book together tightly. I admit, it takes a chapter or two to get used to the style, but this is the beginning of a series, and it is worth the time and effort to get into the story. This is a very adult book, think Harry Potter with a lot more Voldemort and frat boys. The world Bardugo created is very solid and fully fleshed out. For those of you who are looking for answers to the mystery she has built, be patient, the pay off is coming, and well worth the wait. Enjoy!

13 people found this helpful

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  • angelaz
  • 2019-10-18

Excellent magical world building

My favorite supernatural reading is, paradoxically, stuff that hews closest to real life. So I’d say this series is a bit more like Harry Potter’s world or Charlaine Harris’s Sookie series than, say, The Magicians—which hauls the reader off into a complete fantasy world. I like feeling of real life being lit up, like awesome things are just around the corner, rather than feeling like I escaped completely. Being given a scholarship to Yale when you’re a poor outsider IS a kind of magic, and this novel shows it to be awe-full and even dangerous. Wonderful characters, a fine story arc leave me looking for the next in the series. And the readers were perfect!

13 people found this helpful

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  • Mary
  • 2019-10-20

Overwrought

I've so loved all the books in the Grishaverse and was excited to dive into this new offering. Unfortunately, I found the story tiresome, the prose as unnecessary and overwrought as possible, the characters difficult to care about, the backstories trite, and the lead up for what happened to Darlington took so friggin long that I absolutely did not care anymore. Every flashback ruined the pacing and it was difficult to determine when things happened (is Alex only 12 or 15 most of the time?) and the powers of the different houses were the epitome of narrative convenience. I found this book to be a slog and I feel bad about that. But, I would absolutely not recommend it to someone unfamiliar with the author. I would recommend the Grisha books instead.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Chanda Reads
  • 2019-10-18

Fantastic adult debut!

Ninth House was everything and more than what I was expecting. It was dark, gritty, and scary in a non-traditional horror way-but in a way that reminds us that sometimes the scariest monsters are living among us, cloaked as friends, family, and acquaintances. Highly recommend, but HEED THE TRIGGER WARNINGS if you need to because it is dark. Audio: Lauren Fortgang - She's a stunner when it comes to narrating and Ninth House was no exception. Her cadence is perfect for the mood of the book and each character has their own distinct voice.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Aly P
  • 2019-10-16

Good plot but confusing

I try so hard to love Leigh Bardugo's books like everyone else, but something about the writing confuses me and I struggle to like the characters. It seems like the characters are made to be deeply flawed and yet you root for them, which is fine, but I don't get the redeeming qualities and end up not caring about them or whether they die. The time jumping back and forth was kind of rough for me and I think if I read it again I might understand more. I did love the way magic was intertwined with reality. It was smooth and believable and I want to tell fantasy authors, "See? You can write fantasy that takes place in our modern world and it works!" The narrators for the audiobook were nice to listen to and I did appreciate getting a male narrator for Darlington's point of view. I wish we learned more about his and Alex's relationship and what happened to him. Maybe next book will be easier to understand with the foundation already being laid.

24 people found this helpful

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  • Bekie March
  • 2020-01-14

Timelines are not confusing

I was worried about purchasing this book as others had commented that the timeline was confusing. It really wasn’t had for me to follow and the chapters were all clearly named. Great story - magical, adventures, conspiracies and mysteries to be solved. Overall a great story.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Ellie Johnson
  • 2019-10-19

heartbreakingly disappointing

I love Leigh Bardugo. She's easily one of my absolute favorite authors. Even my blind love for her in the fact I own is signed copy of this book couldn't make this good. The book starts off so slow. The first chapters building Yale around us. It feels like Leigh just really wanted to write a book about Yale and came up with the story and the end to try to make it fit. The ending oh my God the ending. You want to talk about jumping the shark? I won't spoil it because spoilers are evil, but just know it is probably one of the dumbest, stupidest things I've ever read. When I initially read all the trigger warnings for this book, I expected a dark and gritty book about the occult in the ivy league. Instead I got some young adult book parading itself around as an adult book, it was like listening to your 12 year old nephew shout the word f*** every five seconds to make it sound like he was a grown up. The actual audiobook was really well done though, performances are great it actually made it enjoyable at times. The narrator's brought a life to the world that Leigh left out of the books.

6 people found this helpful

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  • H. Watanabe
  • 2019-11-28

Just couldn’t finish it

I’m not a big detailed reviewer but this one I felt deserved some explanation. The premise of the book sounded great so I thought I’d give it a go. The story jumps from past to present tense fairly often and I found it really distracting and hard to follow. I’ve gotten through 25% of the book and still can’t figure out what’s going on and have a hard time remembering who the various characters are and why I should care about them. *Trigger warning* There’s a fairly detailed scene where the main character is 12, starts her period and gets raped by a ghost or something like a ghost because he is able to touch her. That was it for me. Time to return the book.

5 people found this helpful