Read or Die

Review of Leigh Bardugo’s NINTH HOUSE

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

One of these days, I’ll learn NOT to succumb to the hype of the book crowds. They only manage to get things right once in a blue moon. And with everyone losing their minds over Hell Bent, I decided to start with the first book.

Note to self: If you didn’t feel an overwhelming need to pick up a book when you first saw it, there was probably a reason.

Maybe it’s a small thing for other people, but I can’t get past the shift of Darlington’s name in the second half of the book. For crying out loud, this is a story steeped in MAGIC! Ms. Bardugo even mentioned the sacred, “There is power in a name,” in the text. Then she randomly decided Darlington could be referred to as Danny without explanation? It doesn’t suit his character in the slightest. It’s informal and common, violating everything she’s built into his history up to that point. The syllables sound crass when set against Black Elm. Did she forget his name halfway through the original draft? Or was Danny the original name before the rewrite, and some editor failed to notice the shift? The irritation rubbed my sensibility raw, and I found myself angrily turning pages to get to the end. How do you spontaneously change a character’s name without a reason?

The “mystery” aspect of the story was weak, at best. The momentum lagged in so many places, losing my interest. (I set the book down without a problem, disinterested in Alex’s fate. The only reason I finished it in the time I did was a bout of insomnia) The eventual revelation came out of nowhere, which I suppose was meant to be a dramatic reveal. Instead, it felt like a deus ex machina. (“Here – I have no good reason to wrap this up, so let’s go this way!”)

I applaud her depiction of college life and the rich texture she brought to the atmosphere. I didn’t even mind the shifts in time back and forth. But I definitely don’t understand the fuss.

View all my reviews

Join the Conversation