Ninth House is Leigh Bardugo's first foray into the non-YA arena, and I think she does well. This is a dark, twisty, contemporary fantasy story set at Yale.

At this Yale, the secret societies all practice magic, and one society, the House of Lethe, is there to watch over them and keep them in line. Though "house" and "society" may be a little generous, as the House of Lethe seems to consist only of 3 members -- Virgil, the lead member; Dante, basically Virgil's apprentice until Virgil graduates; and Oculus, who maintains the residences and acts as research assistant. Peripherally, there is also Centurion, who is a liaison with the police force, and the Dean who watches over them all.

Galaxy (Alex) Stern has had a very hard life, until she is unexpectedly recruited from her hospital bed to come to Yale and be Lethe's Dante. Why Alex? She can see ghosts (Grays), which is very helpful in a world where ghosts may be trying to interfere with the magic being done by the secret societies. Alex's Virgil is Darlington (Daniel Arlington), a lonely young man who has devoted his life to becoming Virgil and figuring out how to see the ghosts himself.

The story starts out with Darlington and Alex working their first society ritual together, where the Greys get a little bit rowdy. Later that night, Alex is asked to check out the scene where a local girl has been murdered -- just in case it has to do with one of the societies. What we soon find out as the story weaves back and forth in time is that Darlington is gone.... somewhere.... and there is much more to the murder of this girl than first appears.

I thought this book was good, but it's not a quick read. The plot gets quite twisty and intricate, and sometimes you have to work a little to tell the differences between the houses. While there are some threads that are left untied, you get answers to some important questions. Overall I enjoyed it, and I will likely be reading the next one when it's released.

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