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Ninth House

Written by: Leigh Bardugo
Series: Alex Stern, Book 1
Length: 16 hrs and 21 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (58 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"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)

This program includes a bonus conversation with the author.

The mesmerizing adult debut from Leigh Bardugo, a tale of power, privilege, dark magic, and murder set among the Ivy League elite.

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.

New York Public Library 2019 accolade: "NYPL Book for Reading and Sharing"

Goodreads Choice Awards - 2019

©2019 Leigh Bardugo (P)2019 Macmillan Audio

What the critics say

2019 NPR Best Book of the Year
2019 Amazon.com Best Books of the Year
2019 NYPL Book for Reading and Sharing

"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

"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

"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) 

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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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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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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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.

8 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.

21 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.

5 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.

4 people found this helpful

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  • The Atkinsons
  • 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.

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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!

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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!

3 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.

3 people found this helpful

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  • B.A. Wilson
  • 2019-11-02

Unbreak My Heart

I am wallowing in despair, because if you asked me who should be the Queen of my world, Leigh Bardugo would be on the short list, no doubt. But this has been the most frustrating Saturday ever, trying to force myself through this book. If it had been written by anyone else, I would have chosen to DNF, but I kept hanging on to try to find more redeeming qualities.

Unfortunately, this was a really difficult story for me to get engaged and stay engaged with. The characters are many and all underdeveloped, in my opinion. The storyline is tedious and convoluted, made worse by the length of the book. I spent several hours trying to convince myself that I’m the problem, but I really don’t think it was just me. All I wanted was to spend the whole day relaxing and reading an awesome book, so I brought the right attitude to the moment just didn’t somehow, in a surprise twist, manage to pick the right book.

So long story short, even though this had some moments that were really interesting, and I could see glimpses of talent and world building and complex and interesting characters, overall, it was not a win for me. Had this not been written by Bardugo, I probably would have DNFed in the first ¼ of the story, saved myself most of a Saturday, and awarded this only 1 star. The 2nd star here is for the moments of amazing writing and storytelling that do exist, even though they tend to be too few and far between.

I do strongly recommend Bardugo’s other books, to anyone who is new to this author. Definitely don’t start with this one, since it seems to be pretty polarizing, and it’s hard saying which side you will fall towards.

The narration is pretty good, very easy to understand, mildly emotional.

11 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.

3 people found this helpful