Having never read a Leigh Bardugo book, I perhaps don't have the frame of reference as most did when going into this. I saw the rave reviews, the Goodreads award, many of my favorite Twitter reviewers discussing it, so I put it on my libby hold and three months later, bam, I'm part of the Ninth House club.
Galaxy aka Alex Stern is at the end of her rope in LA when she's approached to attend Yale with a catch: she will use her...I guess, power, for lack of a better word--to see the Grays, beings of the dead, at secret ceremonies for the nine secret society houses in New Haven. Really, this book has a little bit of everything: ghosts, mean ghosts, really mean ghosts, drugs, sex, gritty female leads, sprawling mansions, ancient rituals, demons, some classes, lots of food, secrets, aloof but critical detective, charming male leads, asshole supporting casts, and a cat.
For how much is in the above list, this book reads well. Bardugo's writing is fluid and engrossing. I loved her narrative voice, and I also thought the dialogue was believable for each character.
I will say: I found a lot of the back story tedious after a time. After the first foray into some flashbacks, Alex's character was developed and well-rounded. I didn't need the complete break down of her history, nor did I need the as much information about her riddled past as was given. Did I enjoy it? Mostly. And Alex was a great character. I couldn't shake the feeling that I was reading a Freeform show in the making, however. Because of the younger audience and the fantastical elements, much of this felt like a better, more interesting Shadowhunters. So, I can see this being a positive and a negative depending on the perspective.
Alex and Dawes' friendship was a lot of fun. I think my favorite part was her interaction with North. I found the ability to connect with the dead compelling, and I wanted more of those parts.
I'll definitely come back for the second book. Fun, engrossing, and a hell of a ride, Ninth House is a hit for me.