• ★★★★-4

Review: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo (Spoiler-Free)

Where do I even begin? I've been waiting for this book for over two years and yet I didn't even know what to expect. I guess I expected it to be good, especially after hearing the surplus of praise it was receiving from critically acclaimed authors, some of which coming from some of my favorites (Stephen King!). I do have to say, I did think it was good. But, was it good in the way that I thought it would be? I don't think so. I really can't explain what I was expecting, but this was slightly different. That's not the book's fault at all, but since I felt it I had to explain it. Now, onto the good stuff-- the reason why this book did receive 4 shining stars. The first quarter of the book was a bit confusing and hard to get into, but once that ball started rolling there was no stopping it. However, I must add that this book as a whole is incredibly nuanced, and I read it at a much slower physical pace than usual. Instead of reading a page a minute, it was more like half a page a minute. I needed to absorb absolutely every word in order for it to make sense, and so I sometimes had to stop and reread passages to fully comprehend what was going on. That didn't take away from the story, though the alternating timeline may have. I found it a bit confusing to be bouncing back and forth so much, and I feel like a chronological arrangement may have let the book flow better for me. I know it sounds like all I have are negative thoughts about this book, but that is not the case at all. I loved the writing style, and the repetition of certain metaphors really did remind me of Stephen King. I also loved how realistic everything felt. When reading this in the dark, I was certain that the ghost of the Bridegroom could pop up in my room at any moment. The rituals and magic had a hard system with rules that could not necessarily be bent or broken and I found it fascinating to learn about this system and the history of the houses. Characters' motives and back stories were flawlessly fleshed-out. I also wasn't expecting a crime novel to come out of Ninth House, but that's essentially what it is. Obviously there is a large paranormal/fantastical element involved, but I wasn't expecting a murder to be the main plotline. While I did enjoy that plotline, I found myself waiting for the book to be about the magic itself, because that's what I had expected. Regarding the murder plotline, I thought the ending was slightly rushed. (view spoiler on my Goodreads review) Overall, I was entertained and impressed with the writing and concept, and am intrigued about the sequel thanks to the killer final line.

Song I was reminded of while reading: Birthday Suit

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