Every once in a while, you run across a book that has all of the makings of a great read, but in the end, it just doesn’t work for you. This was the case for me with Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo, my book club’s September 2023 pick.
The storyline had such promise – a young high school dropout is plucked from a life of addiction to attend Yale and investigate secret societies. The collegiate setting and theme of second chances combined with fantasy elements sounded intriguing. It seemed like the perfect recipe for a phenomenal read.
However, this book failed miserably in its execution. Poised to make potent points about power and privilege, the story came across as jumbled. The writing alternates between past and present without warning and includes a random, muddled mix of mundane and grotesque scenes. In my opinion, the overlay of the magical elements and the real-world setting of Yale and New Haven didn’t work as well as it could have.
I almost didn’t finish this book. It was truly a struggle for me to read, and honestly, it put me in a bit of a reading funk. But I powered through, determined not to give up on Alex Stern and her quest to solve her friend’s murder.
The book improved in the last 100 pages, but the ending sets the reader up for a sequel. I can’t see myself reading the next installment after struggling so much to finish The Ninth House. The allure of learning more about Darlington isn’t enough to make me want to continue the series.