Fans of Lehigh Bardugo’s young adult Shadow and Bone series will find another magical adventure in her first crack at the adult fantasy fiction world, starting with Ninth House and followed by Hell Bent.
Murder. Magic. Secret Societies. New Haven pizza.
Well, it’s not specifically mentioned, but it can only be inferred that Galaxy “Alex” Stern and Daniel “Darlington” Arlington were apt to enjoy a slice of Sally’s Apizza every now and then, given that the story mainly takes place on Yale’s campus. Bardugo, a graduate of Yale, gives readers a reimagined take on the classic campus, adding in secret passageways and directions to follow in order to perform blood rituals. Definitely not included on the maps given out during campus tours.
Alex has something that Lethe House, Yale’s watchdog (or should I say bulldog?) of the other secret societies wants: she can see dead people (Grays). They rescue her from her own depths of Hell (Los Angeles) in exchange for lending her gift to guide Lethe and keep the societies in line. Under the tutelage of Darlington, a Yale senior, she learns the ins and outs of Lethe and how it fits into Yale’s undercover realm. That is, until he goes missing through a portal during a routine check, happening around the same time when a young woman is murdered in the city.
Alex, along with Dawes, Lethe House’s graduate assistant, are left to pick up the pieces, attempting to solve the mystery of the New Haven murder while also connecting the events to Darlington’s disappearance. This continues on through Hell Bent, where they go to Hell and back, quite literally, to rescue Darlington turned demon.
Anyone looking to immerse themselves into a world that makes it feel as though cutting open a hospital patient to forecast the stock market is something that actually could happen on a Thursday evening, this is the book series for you.
Could this have ended as a duology? With a little re-working, yes, I think so. Am I glad Bardugo left Stern and Darlington’s story open for more demon-slaying around a pretentious Yale campus? Absolutely. I’ll be anxiously awaiting the third installment.
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