Ninth House – Leigh Bardugo (Alex Stern, #1)


Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


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 twenty, 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.


In the words of Eleanor Shellstrop . . .


Damn. That was so good.

So I have to be honest . . . I was a little nervous to read Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. I was not a fan of her most recent release (King of Scars) and it is a big jump from the Grishaverse into the adult world. I wasn’t sure if she could pull it off. BUT DAMN. I WAS SO WRONG. Ninth House was absolutely incredible. It definitely joins my list of favorite all-time books. I had the absolute pleasure of attending Leigh’s

Ninth House follows Alex Stern, who is a new Freshman at Yale. Alex has a special ability . . . she can see ghosts (known as Grays) when no one else can. Because of this ability, Alex is recruited to become the apprentice to Lethe House. It is here where Alex meets Daniel Arlington (aka Darlington). Alex learns that it is the responsibility of Lethe House to oversee the secret societies and to ensure they all act within order. But nothing is easy for Alex Stern and her apprenticeship quickly becomes so much more than she bargained for. Ninth House is told from Alex and Darlington’s points of view, and it takes place over the course of the year between Fall and Spring.

I had no idea what to expect from Ninth House due to it taking place in the real world. I actually loved that this story is a fantasy set in real life New Haven, Connecticut. I had zero knowledge of Yale’s secret societies prior to hearing about and then reading Ninth House. It is all so fascinating! I love the way Leigh took the facts and blended it with her story. The world building was just excellent! Leigh was able to create a complete atmosphere. From the campus setting to the ghosts and magic . . . this world and atmosphere was totally captivating. I felt completely transported to Alex’s world.

I loved the cast of characters. I didn’t always agree with their choices, but I always felt myself rooting for them. Alex’s character development was very well done. Leigh was able to write Alex in a way that she made huge strides in her development, but it all felt natural and well paced. I think Pamela Dawes is my favorite character. She’s a nerdy bad ass! And Darlington . . . I want more!

One of my favorite parts of Ninth House was the focus on feminism and inequality. Leigh did a wonderful job shining light onto privilege and the inequalities that women, minorities, and impoverished face. Leigh did not hold back in showing what happens if privilege is allowed to rule unchecked. Leigh was able to connect a story about ghosts and rituals to our present day society and its many issues. One of my favorite quotes from Ninth House addresses victim blaming. This quote (found on page 190) is just perfect. Leigh did such an outstanding job articulating our society’s major problem with victim blaming and the silencing of victims. Huge props to Leigh . . .

“Alex has indicated her own concerns regarding her assault, and instead of hearing her out, you’ve chosen to question her credibility. You may not have meant to imply anything, but intent and the effect were to silence her, so it’s hard not to think this stinks of victim blaming. It’s the semantic equivalent of saying her skirt was too short.”

Ninth House was a dark and twisty roller coaster. It kept me on the edge of my seat! I loved the mystery that had me guessing the whole time! I feel like I had permanent shocked face through the last ~100 pages. Congratulations to Leigh Bardugo on a fantastic adult debut!

I do need to include that Ninth House is definitely an ADULT fiction book.

Trigger warnings include: drug abuse and overdose, sexual assault, violence, murder, date rape, gore, and rituals.

House of Salt and Sorrows – Erin A. Craig


Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Get swept away by the New York Times bestseller that Melissa Albert, author of The Hazel Wood, calls “eerie” and “lovely.” As one by one her beautiful sisters mysteriously die on their isolated island estate, Annaleigh must unravel the curse that haunts her family. Be careful who you dance with…

In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor with her sisters and their father and stepmother. Once there were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last–the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge–and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that her sister’s deaths were no accidents. The girls have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who–or what–are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family–before it claims her next. House of Salt and Sorrows is a spellbinding novel filled with magic and the rustle of gossamer skirts down long, dark hallways. Get ready to be swept away.


Well that was five nightmare inducing stars!!

I received my copy of House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig in OwlCrate’s August “Storm and Seas” box. I had heard about House of Salt and Sorrows prior to receiving my OwlCrate box and I was super intrigued by the premise! I’m happy to say that House of Salt and Sorrows exceeded my expectations! Congrats to Erin A. Craig on this fantastic debut!

I decided to read House of Salt and Sorrows in October because I had heard that it was super creepy! I am not a fan of horror movies, but I do love thrillers and psychologically scary stories (and creepy things around Halloween time). This was a little out of my comfort zone because this book was definitely scary!! There were a few scenes where I actually had to step away for a few minutes. Erin A. Craig did such a an incredible job of creating vivid imagery that felt so real. I am so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and read this perfect spooky.

House of Salt and Sorrows is a gothic, dark, and incredibly eerie retelling of the “Twelve Dancing Princesses.” Even though it’s a retelling, this book is totally original. The plot was full of twists and turns! I truly didn’t know what to expect next! House of Salt and Sorrows was totally mind bending! There were several moments where I was like “whaaattttt!” with my mouth wide open in shock. There’s also mystery, horror, family bonds, and romance. The story was fast paced and exciting. It was so hard to put the book down!!

When I finished reading House of Salt and Sorrows I just sat there for a few minutes trying to digest it all. I was awestruck by the conclusion. I guessed a couple of small details, but I was genuinely stunned by all the reveals and the conclusion. I immediately had to go talk to my friend who had also just read the book. We both are still totally amazing and slightly creeped out.

House of Salt and Sorrows is a stunning gothic tale that will keep you on the edge of your seat. It’s a fantasy horror with mystery and romance. I highly recommend it! Congrats to Erin A. Craig on this incredible book. I can’t wait to see what she writes next!!