Book Review: Ninth House

Dark fantasy is a genre I can get behind. I needed something to listen to at work, and this was listed as “Available Now” on my library’s audiobook site. I was skeptical, though, because this was the first adult book from an author that had only written YA so far. I went ahead and decided to do it because it wasn’t terribly long.

The Book

Ninth House
Author: Leigh Bardugo
2019
Amazon Link

This book cannot have enough trigger warnings. You name it, it’s got it, and it doesn’t really seem to have much impact on the plot of charcterization. Child rape? There. Gore? Got it. Evil, evil, evil stuff? Present.

It’s definitely not for kids, and parents who let their teens read it are a little bit foolish. Parents who read it are in for some horrible events, themselves. Not at all for the faint of heart or even those who want a protagonist that isn’t a piece of crap.

Non-Spoiler Review

Honestly, I can’t think of anything I liked about this book. I could go on in an endless rant about what I didn’t like, but it wouldn’t be helpful to anyone because it would sum up to being “everything.” The book oscillated wildly between “rape and murder horror, including on-screen rape of children” and a theoretical Yale experience that boggled my mind as to “why do I care.”

Because I didn’t care. The main plot, all the way through, felt incredibly YA but peppered with weird “adult” scenes that were “gritty” or gruesome and unfit for a YA audience. If you took away the rape and on-screen bloody murder and made it a special boarding school rather than Yale, you’d get a perfectly acceptable YA book. Because of this, it felt like it didn’t really have an audience – or at least that the audience was definitely not me.

This book was a hair’s breadth away from being abandoned the whole way through. I disliked it only the slightest bit less than Outlander, which is probably the only reason I finished. At least in this book the tone acknowledged when rape was rape and said it was bad. I did set the book down a couple times when the main character, Alex, murdered people and the tone of the book sounded like “oh, it’s ok, they deserved it.”

I didn’t like the characters, the plot, the sentence structure, the world, the purple prose, anything. Anything.

Oh! As I was writing that last sentence, I realized: I think there was a theme. So good on her for trying to have a feminist theme, but boy was it weak sauce because of all the resultant murder. Zero. Snowcones.

0/5 Discoball Snowcones, but 1 on Goodreads because there is no 0

Next week:

I think I’m a glutton for pain because I’m just reading a bunch of “available now” crap. Next week is Cold Mourning, a crime mystery (which isn’t even one of my genres of choice).

9 thoughts on “Book Review: Ninth House

  1. Berthold Gambrel says:

    Well, this sounds like a miserable experience. I hate it when a book (or movie, or whatever) has that vibe of “could have been a straightforward PG-13 story, but they tacked on horrific violence to make it dark and gritty.”

  2. Peter Martuneac says:

    Ugh, I don’t like that. If you’re going to include rape in a book, especially involving a minor, it has to serve the plot in a significant way. Otherwise it just comes across as really crappy. It’s a big reason why I couldn’t finish the “Song of Ice and Fire” series.

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      In this one, I think it was supposed to serve as a combination of motivation and explanation of backstory. The main character could see ghosts, and one raped her when she was a child. No one believed her because, as a ghost, he left no physical evidence. Everyone thought she was insane, which led to why she got involved with occult clubs at Yale.

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