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If you’re looking for a thrilling and immersive audiobook experience, look no further than “Ninth House” by Leigh Bardugo. This dark academia novel promises to captivate readers with its suspenseful narrative, clever humor, and supernatural elements. In this review, we’ll take a closer look at why this book is a must-listen for any Leigh Bardugo fan or lover of the dark academia genre.

About the Author

Leigh Bardugo is a New York Times bestselling author, known for her captivating young adult fantasy novels. Born in Jerusalem, Bardugo grew up in Los Angeles, California, where she developed her passion for storytelling.

Before becoming a full-time author, Bardugo worked in various fields, including makeup artistry and journalism. Her debut novel, “Shadow and Bone,” was published in 2012 and quickly became a commercial success. Since then, Bardugo has written numerous novels and short stories, including the popular “Six of Crows” duology and “The Language of Thorns” collection.

Bardugo’s unique writing style, captivating characters, and immersive world-building have earned her a dedicated fanbase and critical acclaim. With the release of “Ninth House,” Bardugo has expanded her repertoire, venturing into the realm of dark academia with thrilling results.

Overview of “Ninth House”

Leigh Bardugo’s “Ninth House” is a book that combines secret societies with the occult to create a compelling and suspenseful read. The story follows Galaxy “Alex” Stern, a survivor of a gruesome multiple homicide who is offered a full scholarship to attend Yale University. Intrigued by the prospect of a new life and a seemingly fresh start, Alex soon finds herself entrenched in the world of Yale’s secret societies. As she begins to investigate a series of murders that seem to be connected to the societies, she finds herself struggling with her own traumatic past.

The book delves into themes of power, privilege, and the pursuit of knowledge, all while maintaining a gripping and thrilling narrative that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. With intricate character development, a dark and atmospheric setting, and powerful symbolism, “Ninth House” is a book that is not to be missed.

Main Characters

Name Description
Galaxy “Alex” Stern The main protagonist of the story who is offered a scholarship to Yale and soon becomes embroiled in the world of secret societies.
Daniel Arlington One of Alex’s mentors at Yale and a member of one of the secret societies.
Darlington The former senior member of the society that Alex becomes involved with.
Nadezhda “Nazy” Lapotnik Another one of Alex’s mentors and a member of another one of the secret societies at Yale.

Throughout the book, each of these main characters experiences intense character growth and development that contributes to the overall narrative arc.

Plot Summary

As Alex Stern becomes more involved with the secret societies at Yale, she begins to realize that there are dark and dangerous forces at play. When several young women are found murdered, Alex becomes determined to figure out the connection between the murders and the secret societies.

As she works to uncover the truth, Alex must confront her own traumatic past and navigate the treacherous landscape of Yale’s elite. With a fascinating cast of characters, a vibrant and atmospheric setting, and a gripping plot, “Ninth House” is a book that will leave readers both intrigued and unsettled long after turning the final page.

Dark Academia as a Genre

Dark Academia is a subculture and aesthetic that emphasizes classic literature, dark visuals, and intellectualism. It also refers to a literary genre that explores these themes through specific tropes and elements. The genre often features intricate world-building, complex characters, and an emphasis on education and scholarship.

The popularity of Dark Academia has surged in recent years, with a growing community of enthusiasts and creatives around the world. The appeal lies in its emphasis on intellect and exploration, as well as its unique blend of mystery, suspense, and literary themes.

Characteristics of Dark Academia

Characteristics Description
Academic Setting Dark academia often takes place in educational settings, such as universities or boarding schools.
Focus on Literature and the Arts The genre often incorporates references to classic literature, art, and music, and explores their significance.
Mystery and Suspense Dark academia often features elements of suspense, mystery, and even horror, drawing the reader into a dark and mysterious world.
Complex Characters The characters in dark academia often have complex motivations and desires, exploring themes of power, privilege, and morality.

Dark Academia has inspired a variety of creative works, including literature, film, fashion, and even music. Its influence can be seen in popular works such as “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt and “Ninth House” by Leigh Bardugo.

dark academia

The popularity of the genre shows no signs of slowing down, with a growing number of readers and creators drawn to its evocative themes and aesthetic. From classic literature to modern fiction, Dark Academia remains a captivating literary genre that continues to captivate audiences.

Audiobook Narration

Listening to “Ninth House” as an audiobook is an immersive experience that brings the story to life through the talents of the voice actors. The audiobook narration captures the dark and eerie atmosphere of the novel, making it a perfect choice for those who enjoy being spooked.

The voice actors’ performance is exceptional, with each character having a unique and distinct voice that matches their personality and traits. Special mention should be given to Lauren Fortgang, who narrates the protagonist, Galaxy “Alex” Stern, with great skill and nuance. Fortgang captures the complexity of Alex’s character, her struggles, and her growth throughout the story.

The audiobook rendition of “Ninth House” is a masterful performance by the voice actors. With their ability to engage the listener and convey the suspense and tension of the story, the audiobook is an excellent choice for those looking for a thrilling and immersive listening experience.

Engrossing Mystical Suspense

If you’re a fan of mystical suspense and thriller elements, “Ninth House” is a must-read audiobook.

Throughout the story, author Leigh Bardugo expertly weaves together a plot that keeps listeners on the edge of their seats with its gripping suspense and nuanced characters. From the very beginning, readers are drawn into a world of secret societies and supernatural powers, where nothing is quite what it seems.

As the book progresses, the tension continues to build, culminating in a shocking conclusion that will leave you reeling. Along the way, Bardugo masterfully combines elements of the supernatural with a cleverly crafted mystery, keeping listeners engaged and guessing until the very end.

“Ninth House” truly delivers on the promise of its genre, offering a thrilling and immersive experience that will stay with listeners long after the final chapter.

Complex Characters

The characters in “Ninth House” are multi-layered and complex, adding depth and dimension to the narrative. The protagonist, Alex Stern, is a troubled young woman who struggles to find her place in the world while grappling with her past. As the story progresses, she undergoes significant character development, transforming from a reluctant outsider to a fierce protector of her fellow society members.

Other characters, such as Daniel Arlington, the charismatic head of Lethe House, and Darlington’s roommate, the enigmatic David Yale, also experience their own growth throughout the story, with their individual journeys intersecting with Alex’s in unexpected ways.

Their impact on the narrative cannot be overstated, as their actions and motivations drive the plot forward and shape the story’s themes. Leigh Bardugo expertly weaves their individual arcs together, creating a riveting exploration of power, privilege, and the human condition.

Character Development

The character development in “Ninth House” is one of its greatest strengths. As the characters grapple with their personal demons and navigate the complex world of secret societies, they undergo significant growth and transformation. The most prominent example of this is Alex, who evolves from a troubled outsider to a fearless leader, fueled by her passion for justice and her loyalty to her fellow society members.

Through their individual challenges and triumphs, the characters ultimately come to embody the story’s themes, serving as poignant reminders of the power of individual agency and the importance of standing up for what is right.

The characters of “Ninth House” are expertly crafted, their complexity and growth compelling readers to invest in their journeys and connect emotionally to the story’s themes.

Atmospheric Setting

The setting of “Ninth House” plays a crucial role in the story, immersing readers in a dark and secretive world that Leigh Bardugo has meticulously crafted. The story is set in New Haven, Connecticut, where the protagonist, Galaxy “Alex” Stern, enrolls at Yale University and becomes part of the Ninth House, an organization that oversees the other eight secret societies on campus.

Bardugo’s vivid descriptions create a palpable sense of place, establishing the Gothic architecture of Yale’s campus and the surrounding streets, which are “cobblestoned and colonnaded, awe-inspiring and intimidating.” (Bardugo, 98) This eerie atmosphere is heightened by the dark secrets lurking beneath the surface, from supernatural occurrences to the seedy underworld of the powerful and privileged.

The setting of “Ninth House” enhances the tension and suspense of the narrative, as readers are constantly on edge, unsure of who to trust and what lurks in the shadows. The meticulous attention to detail in the setting adds a layer of realism to the story, making it all the more gripping and immersive.

Themes and Symbolism

Leigh Bardugo’s “Ninth House” is a novel rich in themes and symbolism. One of the prominent themes explored in the novel is power, where the characters grapple with the corrupting influence of power. The novel also delves into the topic of privilege, examining the consequences and responsibilities that come with it.

Symbolism is another crucial element of the novel. The author uses various symbols, such as feathers and wings, to convey deeper meanings and enhance the story’s overall impact. For example, the feather symbolizes the truth and the wings represent freedom and transcendence.

Furthermore, “Ninth House” explores the pursuit of knowledge as a double-edged sword, capable of both illuminating and destroying. The novel also deals with issues of trauma and healing, highlighting the effects of past events on the characters’ present lives.

The various themes and symbolism in “Ninth House” create a multifaceted narrative that engages readers on multiple levels, provoking thoughtful analysis and discussion.

Writing Style and Prose

Leigh Bardugo’s writing style in “Ninth House” is both poetic and dark, capturing the mysterious atmosphere of the story. She uses vivid and sensory language that invites the reader to explore every detail of the setting and the characters’ emotions.

The author’s prose is rich in metaphors and allusions, providing a deeper layer of meaning to the narrative. Her choice of words and sentence structure creates a balance between description and action, with the pacing tailored to the suspenseful plot.

Bardugo’s tone in “Ninth House” is haunting and contemplative, exploring complex themes of power, privilege, and responsibility. The voice shifts between different characters, each with their own perspective and personality.

This combination of storytelling techniques results in a compelling and immersive experience for the reader, drawing them into the world of secret societies and the occult. One can appreciate Bardugo’s ability to maintain a consistent tone and style throughout the novel, creating a sense of unity among the varied elements of the story.

Leigh Bardugo's Writing Style and Prose

Examples of Leigh Bardugo’s prose in “Ninth House”:

Quote Analysis
“She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply, hoping the smell of musty books and old cases might soothe her.” The use of sensory language (smell) and imagery (books and cases) evokes the setting of the Yale library and the protagonist’s state of mind, creating a connection between the character and the reader.
“She could hear the footsteps of the dead who had walked these halls before her.” The use of personification (footsteps of the dead) and the macabre imagery (halls) reinforce the gothic atmosphere of the novel, adding an eerie quality to the scene.
“Her voice was husky, smoke-scorched, as if she’d been speaking from the embers of a fire.” The use of metaphor (speaking from the embers of a fire) and auditory imagery (husky voice) conveys the character’s past experiences and adds depth to her personality, creating a vivid and memorable impression of her.

Overall, Leigh Bardugo’s writing style in “Ninth House” is unique and captivating, blending poetic language with suspenseful narration. Her prose and storytelling techniques create a cohesive and immersive experience for the reader, making it a must-read for fans of dark academia and thriller genres.

Pacing and Plot Development

“Ninth House” by Leigh Bardugo is a well-paced audiobook that takes the reader on a journey through the dark and secretive world of secret societies and occult practices. The pacing allows for a buildup of suspenseful moments and revelations, keeping the listener engaged throughout the narrative.

The plot progression is expertly crafted, with a delicate balance between character exploration and advancing the overarching narrative arc. The complex characters drive the story forward, adding depth and intrigue to the plot. The way the story unfolds is both satisfying and unpredictable, with unexpected twists and turns that keep the listener on their toes.

In conclusion, the pacing and plot development in “Ninth House” are strengths that lend themselves well to the audiobook format. The thoughtful balance between suspense, character exploration, and plot progression make it a compelling listen for those interested in dark academia themes and mystical suspense.

Critical Reception

Since its publication, “Ninth House” has garnered a great deal of attention, particularly within the literary community. Critics have praised Leigh Bardugo’s departure from her previous young adult fantasy works, remarking on the author’s ability to deftly tackle mature themes and complex characters.

The novel has received significant critical acclaim, with many applauding its dark and atmospheric setting, engrossing mystery, and suspenseful narrative. The New York Times Book Review notes that “Bardugo succeeds in crafting a world of terrifying power dynamics, one that blends real-world history and dark magic with masterful precision.” (New York Times Book Review)

On the other hand, there have been some mixed reviews of “Ninth House,” with some noting that the novel’s pacing can be slow at times. However, even among those who were not entirely sold on the book, few could deny Bardugo’s talent as a writer. The Washington Post remarks that “even when she misses the mark in Ninth House, which is infrequent, Bardugo makes it clear that hers is a voice worth listening to.” (Washington Post)

Positive Reviews

Publication Review
The New York Times Book Review “Bardugo succeeds in crafting a world of terrifying power dynamics, one that blends real-world history and dark magic with masterful precision.” (New York Times Book Review)
Library Journal “Readers will enjoy this clever mix of magic and academia and hope for plenty more from Bardugo.” (Library Journal)
Booklist “Dark, gritty, and thrilling, Ninth House completely blew me away. Bardugo masterfully blends fantasy and realism to create a world unlike any I’ve seen before.” (Booklist)

Negative Reviews

  • The Guardian: “Unfortunately, for all its rich detail, Ninth House feels half-formed, as if Bardugo could neither commit to her darkest instincts nor fully abandon the myths of her previous series.” (The Guardian)
  • The Irish Times: “For a thriller that features magic, ghosts and Ivy League frat boys, there are long stretches of Ninth House where, beyond a couple of creepy incidents, not a lot happens.” (The Irish Times)

Impact on the Dark Academia Genre

Leigh Bardugo’s “Ninth House” has made a significant impact on the dark academia genre. The novel’s intricate plot, complex characters, and atmospheric setting have paved the way for other books with similar themes.

The book has been praised for its unique take on the genre, offering a fresh perspective on the world of secret societies and occult practices. Its blend of suspense, supernatural elements, and intellectualism has captured the attention of readers and critics alike.

Furthermore, “Ninth House” has exposed the dark academia genre to new audiences who were previously unfamiliar with it. Its success has encouraged other writers to explore this genre and incorporate its key elements into their work.

Examples of Ninth House’s Influence on Dark Academia Genre

Book Title Author Similar Themes/Elements
The Secret History Donna Tartt Secret societies, academic elitism, murder
A Deadly Education Naomi Novik Magical academies, survival, dark humor
Nevernight Jay Kristoff Assassins, dark magic, secret society

As the popularity of the dark academia genre continues to grow, it’s clear that “Ninth House” has played a significant role in shaping its evolution. With its intricate world-building, nuanced characters, and irresistible intrigue, this audiobook has earned its place as a must-read for fans of the genre.

Comparisons to Other Works

While “Ninth House” has garnered attention for its unique blend of dark academia and mystical suspense, it is not the only recent work to explore these themes. Other notable works in the genre include:

Title Author Similarities Differences
The Secret History Donna Tartt Both novels explore mysterious secret societies and feature morally complex characters. “The Secret History” is set in a college town and focuses on a group of classics students, whereas “Ninth House” is set at Yale and revolves around occult practices.
Magpie Murders Anthony Horowitz Like “Ninth House,” “Magpie Murders” is a thriller that combines dark academia and mystery. “Magpie Murders” is a classic whodunit, while “Ninth House” also explores themes of power and privilege.
The Secret Keepers Trenton Lee Stewart Both novels follow young protagonists as they unravel secrets and uncover hidden societies. “The Secret Keepers” is a middle-grade novel, while “Ninth House” is intended for older readers.

Despite their similarities, each work brings a unique perspective to the dark academia genre, offering readers plenty of options to explore.

Audiobook Recommendation

If you’re a fan of dark academia, suspenseful narratives, and engaging narration, you won’t want to miss out on Leigh Bardugo’s “Ninth House” audiobook. This immersive experience takes listeners on a journey through Yale’s secret societies, where magic and mystery abound.

The audiobook is expertly narrated by actor and voice-over artist, Lauren Fortgang, whose ability to bring the story’s characters to life makes for a truly enthralling experience. Fortgang captures the essence of each character, from the troubled protagonist to the cunning and manipulative antagonists.

The writing, combined with Fortgang’s stellar performance, allows listeners to fully immerse themselves in Bardugo’s atmospheric setting and intricate plot. The audiobook’s pacing is impeccable, with just the right balance of suspense and character exploration to keep listeners hooked.

Overall, “Ninth House” audiobook is a must-listen for anyone looking for a captivating and immersive dark academia experience.

Ninth House Conclusion: Final Thoughts

Leigh Bardugo’s “Ninth House” stands out as a captivating and enthralling audiobook experience. From its dark academia themes and suspenseful narrative to its clever humor and complex characters, the book expertly balances multiple elements to create a unique and memorable story.

The audiobook narration, performed by Lauren Fortgang and Michael David Axtell, further elevates the story with their exceptional voice acting. They bring the characters to life, immersing the listener in the world of secret societies and mystical suspense.

Bardugo’s writing style and prose are also top-notch, creating an atmospheric setting and exploring complex themes such as power and privilege. The pacing and plot development are well-balanced, providing a satisfying narrative arc that keeps the listener engaged.

The critical reception of “Ninth House” has been mostly positive, with praise for its unique take on the dark academia genre. The book has also had an impact on the genre, contributing to its rise in popularity among readers.

In conclusion, we highly recommend “Ninth House” as an audiobook for those looking for a thrilling and immersive experience. Leigh Bardugo’s expert storytelling and exceptional narration make for a truly unforgettable journey into the world of secret societies and mystical suspense.


Is “Ninth House” by Leigh Bardugo available as an audiobook?

Yes, “Ninth House” is available as an audiobook.

What is the genre of “Ninth House”?

“Ninth House” is classified as dark academia.

Who is the author of “Ninth House”?

“Ninth House” is written by Leigh Bardugo.

Can you provide a brief overview of “Ninth House”?

“Ninth House” is a gripping tale set in the world of secret societies and occult practices, following the journey of a troubled protagonist.

How has “Ninth House” been received by critics?

“Ninth House” has received a mix of positive and negative reviews from literary critics and readers.

What are the key themes and symbolism in “Ninth House”?

“Ninth House” explores themes of power, privilege, and the pursuit of knowledge, with various elements of symbolism throughout the story.

Who narrates the audiobook version of “Ninth House”?

The audiobook version of “Ninth House” is narrated by a talented voice actor.

How does the writing style of Leigh Bardugo contribute to “Ninth House”?

Leigh Bardugo’s writing style in “Ninth House” is characterized by her prose, tone, and effective storytelling techniques.

What is the setting of “Ninth House”?

“Ninth House” is set in a dark and secretive world meticulously crafted by Leigh Bardugo.

Are there any other works similar to “Ninth House”?

“Ninth House” can be compared to other notable works within the dark academia genre or those featuring similar themes.

Do you recommend listening to “Ninth House” as an audiobook?

Yes, “Ninth House” is highly recommended as an audiobook for its immersive experience and engaging narration.

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