I couldn ’ t imagine anyone in a better position to deliver his story than the author I believe to be one of the finest in her field.But what a slim hope to rest my heart upon.In Leigh Bardugo ’ s first offering to the adult genre, Yale University wears claws hidden in a velvet glove.
Here where magic didn ’ t require skill so much as a steady lavishing of grotesqueries, and en in power used their loyalty to underground societies to further their own interest, eager to commit their weight to the great lever and move the world—without counting the cost.Peering down from a lofty chair at the est of the societies was House of Lethe, standing guard to ensure that their unwholesome affairs won ’ t tip them into a whirling chaos that could eat them whole.
Alex ’ s lies are adequate, but Darlington ’ s gaze, fastened on her, is a mirror that granted a ruinous glimpse of herself, and it spoke of abandon and fearlessness, a person dangerously unmoored from their own future.Now there is a fog creeping along at their heels, swallowing their footsteps and erasing their evidence, and when a girl winds up dead and Darlington melts to nothing before Alex ’ s yes, the wrongness of what they ’ re doing hangs like gun smoke in the air.
Darlington believed they were safe in Lethe—they were the shepherds, after all—but Lethe only bestows the kind of protection that weighs and measures before it finds you worthy.
I kept tellin myself, while reading, how it should be that I as so decidedly not enjoying a book that was so perfectly calculated to be my literary ideal, and here, I sa, is the answer.Bardugo has always been good at fully bringing to life a place most couldn ’ t retend to know, and has already displayed a great gift for plot in her YA Grishaverse books, but I was left craving the vividly and mordantly splendid story lines we know she ’ s capable of delivering.
Despite its flashes of poignant beauty—there is a recurrent scene from his nove that surfaces in my mind again and the, like an obsessive undercurrent in a dream: Alex standing, like a temple icon to an evil goddess, ( “ night ebbed and flowed around her in a cape of glittering stars ”), and Darlington with a word in his back that felled him to his knees, to her mercy, his plea of “ Choose me ” a frantic, unspoken chant—Ninth House ’ s blend of the mundane and the magical did not tip far enough to the latter for me.Bardugo favors detailed explication over keeping a steady pace, and it ’ s problematic when the flow of the tal is hampered by its slow build and lack of major plot movement.
And though the driving force of the narration is a classic whodunit, with Bardugo structuring the book like a detective yarn of sorts, I do n't know whether it works like a crime novel; Alex is sharp, frail she was, yet crafty, but the narrative may hand her a few too many gifts.The emotional register of Ninth House, too, is of a different order from either of Bardugo ’ s previous works—for me, at least.
There ’ s a roaring vitality to her that ’ s not just beneath the surface, though, and I chose to poke at it until it gave way to something more.Despite having considerably less page-time, Darlington ’ s haracter, on the other hand, manages to shine amid a constant barrage of wonders and grotesqueries.
There ’ s an embodied presence to him, depth and information—and it kept me riveted throughout.Darlington lived with an endless commotion inside, and this part of him that sought danger, like an ember sought air, fit in with Lethe like a bolt sliding into place.