Allgemein, K - O, N, Reviews

Review: Ninth House (Leigh Bardugo)

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Book 1 on My Book List 2020

”The Ancient Eight have yielded some of the most powerful men and women in the world. People who literally steer governments, the wealth of nations, who forge the shape of culture.

Okay, I’m going to be honest here (am I ever not?! *lol*) and I’ll admit that this was my first foray into the genre of “dark academia”. I’ve never read in this genre before and if I ever did I obviously can’t remember it. So this said the entire concept of “Ninth House” was super intriguing for me. I know a lot of people who already read in this particular genre and most of them apparently were bored and found too many typical tropes in this book. As someone who’s new to this sort of thing I can’t complain though. I mean for me as a newbie it totally worked.

As for the book and the plot itself: It’s a slow one and the story takes quite some time to develop and to gain traction. At the beginning there is a lot of info dump and for me it felt like the start of Sarah J. Maas’s “House of Earth and Blood”. There are many details and an entire hierarchy and system you have to understand in order to be able to continue with the storyline. All the different student unions (secret societies), their special brand of magic and how they are imbedded into the well-oiled machinery named Yale were just a part of it though. We also get a thorough look into Lethe House and how it works as a controlling body for the Ancient Eight. Not gonna lie, it was A LOT to take in at first, but once you get the hang of it the magical world starts to spread out in front of you. 😉

Another thing I’ve to mention are the characters in this book. Alex Stern is probably one of the most unlikely heroines I ever came across. Well, in fact she’s actually an anti-hero, but this only makes her even more likable. Darlington is such a darling (pun totally intended) and Dawes is some sort of quiet force that works in the background. Those three make up Lethe House and it was super interesting to find out about how it works. I think it’s safe to say that the book is very character driven and lives from their complexity, which is always a plus in my book. Still, there were a couple of very disgusting and graphic scenes so if that’s not your cup of tea I wouldn’t recommend reading “Ninth House”.  I’ll definitely make sure to write them all in the trigger warnings below! Anyway, before I write another essay I’ll just leave it at that and jump right into my characters section aka the spoilery parts! XD

2

Welcome to Yale Campus and all the secret societies it harbours. If you don’t want to dive into this dark chapter of history and don’t want to get spoiled you better head my warning and don’t continue to read. For all the brave of you who don’t mind spoilers: Be my guest and go ahead! ;-P

trigger warnings (and there’s a whole list!): violence, gore, rape, blood, drug use, drug dealing & addiction, overdosing, death, abuse (mental and physical), rape of a child, sexual assault after making people compliant with a magical drug, drowning, suicide, blackmail, self-harm, forced consumption of human waste

Galaxy “Alex” Stern:

”The idea that there could be hot food just waiting for her three times a day was still shocking. But it made no difference what she ate or how much of it; it was as if her body, starved for so long, was ravenous now.”

Where to start with Alex?! Well, she’s definitely not your typical heroine. Alex’s past is pretty messy and there happened a lot of heavy stuff that’s still haunting her. She could always see ghosts (they are called Greys in here) and even got attacked by them. Not just physically but she was also sexually abused by one as a child. And yes I think it was actual abuse and not just an attempted one. The way the scene was described she actually got assaulted. Alex was just a child when it happened and she could not explain the things she saw because no one else could see the ghosts as well. So in the end she lost her way and started to hang out with people that used drugs. Which led her into addiction until her friend died and she was offered a job at Lethe House in Yale. What I really liked about Alex’s character was that she wasn’t one of those super strong characters. She was afraid and she tried to stay out of trouble, but as the book continued she realized that she needed to stand up for herself in order to live her life the way she wanted to. Everyone already believed her to be that tough girl so she finally decided to actually become one. XD So at the end of the book it was revealed that Alex is a wheel and I’m very curious to find out what this actually means. Guess I’ll have to wait for book two though. >_<

”Take courage. No one is immortal. Do you know what it would have meant to me to know those words when I was a kid? It would have taken so little to change everything. But no one bothered. Not until I could be useful to you.”

”What do you want? Belbalm had asked her. Safety, comfort, to feel unafraid. I want to live to grow old, Alex thought as she pulled the curtains closed. I want to sit on my porch and drink foul-smelling tea and yell at passersby. I want to survive this world that keeps trying to destroy me.”

”Mors irrumat omnia,” Alex whispered. Death fucks us all.”

”What could she say? Help me. Protect me. Except no one could. No one could see the things hurting her. They might not even be real. That was the worst of it. What if she’d imagined it all? She might just be crazy, and then what? She wanted to start screaming and never stop.”

Daniel “Darlington” Arlington:

”I c-c-class p-p-profanity with declarations of love. Best used sparingly and only when wholeheartedly m-m-meant.”

Mhmm… I’m having a difficult time to say something about Darlington because we only got to see flashbacks of his character. He disappeared when he went to that house with Alex and we have no idea where he actually went or if he’s even still alive. Alex believes him to be in hell so I’m not sure if I should hope that he’s still alive. I’m pretty certain he’d suffer in hell so yeah… Anyway! Darlington seemed to be a really nice guy, yes probably too posh and refined but deep down it looks like he had a good heart. He was like the golden boy of Lethe House and everyone was drawn to him. Throughout the entire book we get to see more and more of his past and what caused him to end up at Yale and Lethe House and why he’s bound so tightly to Black Elm. Still, we only get little bits of his life and the rest is a mystery. So I’m very curious about Darlington now! Especially because Alex thinks he became a demon and the only way to become one is if you killed someone. Maybe he killed his grandfather? I dunno. I really want to find out though because nice and friendly Darlington didn’t seem like he could hurt a fly.

”He saw the city differently because he knew it, and his knowledge was not casual. It was adoration. But no amount of love could make him see Grays. Not without Orozcerio, another hit from the Golden Bowl. He shuddered. Every time was a risk, another chance that his body would say enough, that one of his kidneys would simply fail.”

”Beyond that, he had nothing. But he couldn’t let go of Black Elm, he wouldn’t, not so someone could put a wrecking ball through its walls. Not for anything. This was his place. Who would he be untethered from this house?”

”This was why he had done it, not because of guilt of pride but because this was the moment he’d been waiting for: the chance to show someone else wonder, to watch them realize that they had not been lied to, that the world they’d been promised as children was not something that had to be abandoned, that there really was something lurking in the wood, beneath the stairs, between the stars, that everything was full of mystery.”

”I don’t know,” Darlington had said meditatively. “Suffocating beneath a pile of books seems an appropriate way to go for a research assistant.”

Dawes:

”Alex has indicated her own concerns regarding her assault, and instead of hearing her out, you’ve chosen to question her credibility. You may not have meant to imply anything, but the intent and the effect were to silence her, so it’s hard not to think this stinks of victim blaming. It’s the semantic equivalent of saying her skirt was too short.”

For a long while Dawes was just a side-character that only appeared every once in a while but as the plot picked up pace she became a bigger part of the book as well. I really liked her and I was very thankful Alex had her on her side! Who would have thought shy Dawes would give Dean Sandow a sermon about victim blaming! XD I really loved that and Dawes totally grew on me! She’s a fierce bookworm and we definitely need more of those in our books! *lol*

Turner:

Turner shook his head. “And let me guess, it isn’t a regulated substance because no one’s ever heard of it to regulate it.” He had the same nauseated expression he’d worn when he saw Alex healed by the crucible. “All you children playing with fire, looking surprised when the house burns down.”

Turner is also a character that grew on me and I really like him. He’s just doing his job and trying to make sense of all the magic and craziness that is Yale campus. *lol* Not easy if you’re a man that believes in facts and the things he can see. I guess Alex will teach him a lot of things in the next book and I’m sure he’s going to regret the day he started to work for Lethe, that is, of course, if he isn’t already doing it. XD

3

Alex & Darlington:

”Alex would have liked to be immune to it – the pretty face, his lean frame, the easy way he occupied space as if he owned it. He had a way of distractedly brushing the brown hair back from his forehead that made you want to do it for him.“

And here is the one million dollar question: Was there something between Alex and Darlington or not?! I have no idea! I think they were attracted to each other but nothing ever happened? At least I got the feeling that there was some chemistry but that they didn’t get a chance to give into it. I’m kind of scared to find out how Darlington is going to be once he returns from hell. I’m pretty certain he won’t come back the same way he went into it and I’m sure it will bring an entirely different dynamic to his relationship with Alex. Also there is still North the ghost. He bonded with Alex in the most particular way and I don’t know how this is going to affect Alex in the future. Since the thing with Daisy happened he obviously steered clear of her, but they are bound now and I think he’ll be a part of the next book too. Mhmm.

”Either way, Alex didn’t like that it would be so easy for Lethe to close Darlington’s chapter. He had been a lot of things, most of them annoying, but he had loved his job and Lethe House. It was cruel that Lethe couldn’t love him back.”

Alex & Mira (her mum):

”They would ingest a little bit of arsenic every day. It made their skin clear and their eyes bright and they felt wonderful. And all the while they were just drinking poison.” When Mira turned her eyes back to Alex, they were sharper and steadier than Alex ever remembered them being, free of the usual determined cheer. “That’s what being with your father was like.”

Alex’s mum really seemed to care about her and I couldn’t help but wonder how it even happened that they got so estranged. I suppose Alex didn’t want to explain that she could see ghosts and what they did to her and therefore sought her relief in drugs instead. I had the feeling like her mum tried to reach out to her but Alex just couldn’t accept the help? Maybe I’m wrong. I think as a parent her mum should have been more persistent though. If my kid would go through some stuff and I knew she was falling apart I’d do everything possible in order to reach her. But then again maybe Mira did exactly that and it just wasn’t shown in the book. >_< What caused my ears to prick up though was that little bit when Mira spoke about Alex’s father. To compare him with poison already says enough and I’m pretty certain that Alex inherited her ability to see ghosts from him. Maybe he was some sort of demon? I dunno. All the little bits we got about him indicate that he wasn’t entirely human. I’m definitely ready to solve that mystery in the next book. xD

4

“Ninth House” was my first time reading “dark academia” and even though some of the scenes in this book were pretty repulsive and disgusting I still found myself wanting to know what would happen next. If you don’t have a tough stomach I certainly wouldn’t recommend you to read this, but if you like intriguing characters that are morally grey and enjoy a little bit of mystery this book could be for you. I definitely don’t agree with all of Alex’s actions but she was an interesting MC and I’m curious enough to go for the second book whenever it hits the shelves. =)

Allgemein, K - O, N, Reviews

Review: Nevernight (Jay Kristoff)

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

Book 16 on My Book List 2019

”You’ll be a rumour. A whisper. The thought that wakes the bastards of this world sweating in the nevernight. The last thing you will ever be in this world, girl, is someone’s hero.”

Well, I suppose that’s only to be expected when you set out on the dark path of revenge. Not that Mia wouldn’t be able to deal with it. 😉 Truth be told, after reading this book I’m convinced that there is absolutely nothing our heroine wouldn’t be able to deal with. Except of maybe the many bad ratings this book got? *lol* When I started to read “Nevernight” I already knew that I was late to the party, but after reading it and skimming through some of the reviews I also realized that it’s apparently a rather controversial book?!

Why the ‘byss I wondered and started to investigate. As it seems most of the reviewers that gave it a low rating just couldn’t with the writing style and the recurring footnotes. Which admittedly, is a valid point. If you’re no fan of paraphrases and poetry or prose I’m fairly certain that you will end up hating this book. So I guess what it truly comes down to is if you’ve liked Tahereh Mafi’s “Shatter Me” series or not. If you loved it there’s a high chance you’ll enjoy the writing style of this book as well, if you hated it, I’d recommend borrowing “Nevernight” from the library and seeing if you enjoy the first few chapters. 😉

As for me, I can only say that I LOVED it! It might have taken me ages to get through this book and the footnotes were kind of distracting at first, but it was definitely worth it! I’ve read so many YA books in my life and even though the initial story of an assassin novice that has to survive her training and initiation is nothing new, the way Jay Kristoff wrote it still managed to give this story a unique spin. This is nothing like Sarah J. Maas’s “Throne of Glass”, this is nothing like Robin Hobb’s “Assassin’s Apprentice”, this was something completely different! Dark, twisted, cunning, cruel, gory, violent and only just a little bit x-rated. ;-P (If you’ve read ACOTAR those scenes won’t shock you though, they are pretty tame in comparison) And of course all the characters are so “morally grey” that they border on obsidian, ebony or jet-black which brings me right to my characters section! XD

2

Welcome to the Red Church, where killers are made into proper assassins! You might have the necessary traits but do you also have the guts to improve your skills? Find out and enter the mountain. Where spoilers await you in the darkness, always ready to pounce on you if you happen to cross their path. Or in other, less flowery words: Spoilers ahead! Be careful! *lol*

Mia Corvere:

”Never flinch.” A cold whisper in her ear. “Never fear. And never, ever forget.”

It feels like I’ve been waiting for a heroine like Mia Corvere for my entire life!!! I ADORE this girl! <333 She’s direct, loves books, doesn’t care about anyone’s opinion, curses like a sailor, smokes like a dragon, has a great humour and is kick-ass and cunning af!!! And most of all she feels real!!! Whenever authors try to make their heroines as tough as the male MCs they seem to fail. Jay Kristoff? HE FREAKING NAILED IT!! Well, at least for me he did! It was such a pleasure to follow Mia’s journey. She has the mind of a killer but still shows compassion when no one else does. Throughout the entire book she walks a fine line between becoming a killing machine and trying to keep her humanity. She has no trouble to kill people that hurt the ones she loves, but she draws the line at killing innocents for pleasure and I could have kissed her for refusing to take the final test! <333 Also she was so brave in so many ways! Yes, some might argue that it’s easy to be brave when you have a not-cat that eats your fear, but sometimes bravery means more than just being able to overcome your fears. It’s also brave to stand in front of 5 people that could easily kill you and still refuse to do what they want you to do. So yes, I’m Mia Corvere trash now and I think I might be in love with her. *lol* With both, Mia and Mr. Kindly! Their not-friendship was everything! <333

”Iron or glass? they’d asked.
Mia clenched her jaw. Shook her head.
She was neither.
She was steel.”

”Apologies,” Mia frowned, searching the floor as if looking for something. “I appear to have misplaced the fucks I give for what you think…”

”They can give you a new face, but they can’t give you a new heart. No matter what they take from you, they can’t take that away unless you let them. That’s real strength, Tric. That’s real power.”

Tric:

”… You’re a little frightening sometimes, Pale Daughter.”
She gave him a wry smile. “Only a little?”
“Well, most times, you’re just plain terrifying.”
“Come on,” she said, slapping his arm. “I’ll buy you a drink.”

This Itreyan-Dweymeri boy is so sweet that I instantly loved him! Tric was such a great character and my heart bled for him! The way he got his scars and tattoos? It was so damn painful to read. My poor boy! T_T He was so young and he would have deserved so much better than that! I despise his grandfather Swordbreaker and what he did to him and I adored his mother for loving him so much! Tric’s mom was amazing and I’m sure a lot of his character traits came from her. ❤ I could understand his inner conflict about losing his scars though. I mean they basically were his past written on his skin. I agree with Mia though, they don’t define him. Also did anyone find out why he’s named Tric?! I mean he told Mia the story about his scars and tattoos but I can’t remember that he ever told her why he’s named Tric. If any of you know, could you please explain?! (If possible without spoiling too many details if it’s in one of the following two books. *lol*) AND now to the huge WTF moment of this book! I had to read the scene where Ashlinn kills him TWICE, because when I read it for the first time I thought my mind must have played a trick on me! O_o I was so shocked!!! And I’ll never be okay with him dying!! Yes, they are at a school for assassins and there died plenty of the other students throughout the entire book, but TRIC??!! Really? He was one of the two freaking MCs!!! How could Jay do this to us?!! T_T My poor baby boy!!! I’m not okay with this…

”Drown him and be done.” His voice dropped to a trembling whisper. “They were her first words. That’s what she fucking named me. Drown him and be done.”

Ashlinn:

”Don’t trouble yourself about what that bitch said,” Ash whispered, glancing at Carlotta’s flawless cheek. “That’s not who you are any more.”
“It was never who I was.”
Charlotta’s hands fell still. Her stare growing clouded.
“It was just who they made me.”

I really liked Ashlinn and she grew on me until… well, until she freaking killed Tric!!! *lol* How could she? I feel as betrayed by her actions as Mia does! I was on the verge of falling for her character and then she does something like this?! Not nice! >_< And now I find myself second guessing every single thing she said and did in this book. Was it all an act? Did she really like Mia and Carlotta or did she just play games with them? I loved her humour and despite everything she seemed to be a compassionate and nice person. Just like the skilled thief she is, she stole my heart without me even noticing it and now I’m standing in front of the torn ruins of my ribcage. To say it with Mr. Kindly’s words: Dear gentlefriends, I’ve to admit that I’m still wondering about what the hell happened in those last few chapters! Ash’s character arc left me with so many questions I feel a headache coming up! *lol* I can’t wait to see her in “Godsgrave” though, because seriously, there’s no way, I repeat NO FREAKING WAY, she won’t appear in the next book. XD (Or at least I hope so. ;-P)

The Shahiids:

Shahiid Mouser
”This is a game, children. But a dangerous one.” He waggled his eyebrows. “The only kind worth playing.”

Shahiid Aalea

”They will never see the knife in your hand if they are lost in your eyes. They will never taste the poison in their wine when they are drunk on the sight of you.”

”Never let your face tell a secret your lips should not.”

Lord Cassius
”Killers one, killers all. And each death we bring is a prayer. An offering to Our Lady of Blessed Murder. Death as a mercy. Death as a warning. Death as an end unto itself. All of these, ours to know and gift unto the world. The wolf does not pity the lamb. The storm begs no forgiveness of the drowned.”

The Shahiids were so amazing! I know I only mentioned a few of them here but when it comes down to it I really liked them all! Shahiid Spiderkiller was so deadly! XD I swear to poison your class frequently just to make sure they actually study is quite the way to motivate your students! *lol* No wonder they all tried to be top at her class. Haha! If your life depends on it poison studies will become your favourite subject. ;-P Shahiid Solis was kind of brutal and cruel so I didn’t like him all too much. I adored Mouser and Aalea though! I’m sure I would have loved to attend their classes. As for Lord Cassius, he seemed to be one of those mysterious characters you never get a grip on and since he died I doubt that I’ll ever understand his reasons and motives. >_< Marielle and Adonai? The Church’s weaver and speaker… well they were just creepy and terrifying! And they obviously had some incestuous relationship going on?! *shudders* I don’t even know how all the girls could swoon over Adonai, for me he was just trouble in a nice disguise. *lol*

Chronicler Aelius:

”This is a library. You can’t smoke in a bloody library.”
“O, shit…”
The old man plucked his cigarillo, pondered it briefly, popped it back into his mouth.
“What if the books catch fire?” Mia asked.
“O, shiiiiiiiit,” the old man said, exhaling a cloud that made Mia’s tongue tingle.

Now here comes one of the characters I loved the most! Chronicler Aelius was legit the best thing about the Red Church!!! That guy was awesome!! I loved the first meeting between him and Mia and that he gave no shit about smoking at the library. *lol* He was like a grumpy puppy that grows on you and moreover he was pretty wise! ❤ I adored his stance on books and one of my fave moments was him offering Mia a smoke while they watched the enemy being eaten by the worms. (quite literally) Haha! Also the fact that he is dead!! OMG! That came as a total surprise! He really wasn’t kidding about getting lost in the library and dying there! O_o I really hope there will be more of him in the next book because I need to read more about his intriguing character!!

”The books we love, they love us back. And just as we mark our places in the pages, those pages leave their mark on us. I can see it in you, sure as I see it in me. You’re a daughter of words. A girl with a story to tell.”

3

Mia & Tric:

”As you were kind enough to notice, I’ve fallen a little behind in Songs.”
“A little?” Tric snorted. “There’s training dummies up there who could mop the floor with you, Pale Daughter.”
“Well, thank you very much,” Mia scowled. “If you’d like to go somewhere and quietly fuck yourself, I’ll be waiting here patiently for your return.”

Haha! I loved how blunt they were! Those two were always honest with each other and never pretended to be something they are not and I think that might have been the main reason they hit it off. What I really liked about their relationship was that they started as strangers, became sort of best friends and then lovers. It’s rare authors take the time to go for a slow burn and I think this one was done nicely. And yes, in my eyes this was a slow burn because they didn’t do anything until the 60% mark or so? Mia can tell herself about a thousand times that she doesn’t love Tric, we all know better, right? *lol* You don’t go sharing your not-cat with just anyone when you’re about to be whipped by Marielle. >_< To say he was with Mia was such a stupid move but then again he didn’t want her to die and she would have died with a 100 lashes. Still, that they both got 50 in the end was horrible. *swallows* Poor Tric though! I’m sure Mia loved him. That he had to die this way was so cruel. I mean Ash only killed him because he had such an exceptional sense of smell. Such a stupid reason to die! And this might sound weird but it was good for Mia that she killed Swordbreaker and meted out revenge! It won’t bring back Tric but to know that his grandfather eventually got what he deserved must have been liberating for her. At least she could give him that. T_T

”For a moment, she wasn’t Mia Corvere, daughter of a murdered house, parched with the thirst for revenge. Not a fledgling assassin or a servant of a goddess. Just a girl. And he a boy. Their eyes blind to all but each other.”

”A wordless protest slipped from her lips, and she reached out, running her fingertips up his arm. Goosebumps rose on his skin. She rested one hand on the hard swell of his shoulder. Stopped him from pulling away.”

”Maybe we should start at the letter S?”
“S?”
“S for stubborn. S for stupid. S for smart-arse.”
“S for shut it.”
“See, that’s the spirit.”

Mia & Ash:

”Huzzah! She can be taught!”
“Fuck you.”
“Fair warning, I’m not much of a biter…”
“Ash, I swear to the Mother –“

Is it just me or was there a smell of romance in the air? I could have sworn Mia and Ash were attracted by each other. They kind of flirted and they kissed twice! This has to count for something, right? At the moment I don’t see how a relationship between those two could ever work out though. Ash killed Tric who was Mia’s lover and probably her first true love so to say they would be star-crossed lovers would be an understatement par excellence. Still, there was something in the air between those two and I’m sure if Tric would still be alive *sobs* he would actually tell you the same thing! I think before Tric I would have shipped this like crazy, now that I’m so uncertain about Ashlinn’s character I don’t know if I want to ship it or not. I’m kind of torn here. *lol* Maybe Ash will come back in book two and there will be an explanation for how she acted and why she did what she did? Not that an explanation would make me forgive her, but it certainly would help to understand her motives, because right now it’s all Greek to me and I no longer understand the world. XD I’ve yet to decide if I want to board this possible ship or not. ;-P

”Ashlinn, I could kiss you…”
“… I thought you’d never ask?”

”You know, folk around here have got you figured for a ruthless bitch after that stunt with Diamo. But I know better. Someone hurts those you love, you’ll not forgive it. But underneath it all, you’re a good sort, Corvere.”
Mia kissed Ash’s cheek, smiling. “Don’t tell anyone. I’ve a reputation to uphold.”

”She took a deep breath, as if about to plunge into dark water. And then she leaned in slow, cupped Mia’s face, and kissed her gently on the lips. It lasted a moment too long. Perhaps not long enough? Warm and soft and honeysweet. Before Mia could decide, it was already over. Ash broke the kiss, squeezing Mia’s hand. A million unsaid words shining in her eyes. A million more on Mia’s tongue.”

4

Where do I even begin?! This was something totally unique and if you ask me I can’t compare it to anything I ever read. The premise of the story might have sounded a lot like all the other assassin books I ever heard of, but Jay Kristoff managed to give it an incomparable spin and I’m very glad I picked this up. It was dark and at times brutal, it was gory and X-rated, there was a lot of cussing and smoking involved and… I loved it! *lol* Enough said! If you enjoy books like that I’m sure you’ll devour this too! ;-P