Written by Leigh Bardugo
Published by Flatiron Books, October 8th, 2019
My star rating – 4.5 stars
Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?
Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive. Find it on Goodreads
Oh, hello there Leigh Bardugo. You’re writing adult now? Let me just say – you were meant to. As much as I like her young adult books, this book showed a different side of her. A side that is dark, twisted, raw and gritty. I have to say I liked it! This should be described as a paranormal murder mystery with some really sick and twisted shit. It wasn’t an easy read sometimes (i’ll get to that in the next paragraph) as it was pretty graphic, but I liked that this book didn’t hold your hand – it told you like it was – even the worst parts – especially the worst parts! But that’s what made this story what it was.
Two words – TRIGGER WARNINGS! Like I said, this is an adult book that is graphic and holds nothing back. There is an on page rape of a 12 year old girl, gore, murder, drug use and overdosing, implied rape by multiple men……. it’s a lot to take in. So please prepare yourself going into this! Yes Leigh Bardugo writes young adult books but not exclusively. Mature readers only kids!
Now that all that is out of the way, let’s get to my thoughts. I tried to get into this book 3-4 times but I didn’t like the beginning. It starts off by throwing you into the story and you’re expected to accept it, understand, and catch on. I was so confused! It made sense later on, but I wasn’t a fan of the way the book started. But by chapter 3, I fell in love with Alex and the story!
Alex as a character was just amazing! She was so real. She had this horrible past that shaped her to be who she was today and we unravel that mystery as the book goes along. She is unbelievably broken and confused but still maintains hope that she can do something good with her life. She wasn’t your typical “I’ve had a bad past but I can do anything perfectly” type – she made mistakes. She lost and gained her confidence. She admitted defeat. But she tried – and that’s why I love her!
What intrigued me most about this book was the fact that we had an Ivy League school with secret societies. There have been numerous movies about the subject and I am obsessed with the idea – but that part fell completely flat for me. Ok, yes, we learn about the societies. There are 8 houses that all have different tasks and abilities, and we learn about what they all do. We have the 9th house who are basically the people who make sure that nothing goes tits up. But what we didn’t get were details! There were a few detailed scenes with the other houses but not to the extent of what I hoped for. I wanted more about the societies! I wanted to visit them all, learn more about them, see what they could do….. I just wanted more! But as soon as there was a murder and a missing person, it took over the plot completely.
The pace was slightly hit or miss. It started off slow – not a whole lot happened in the first 150 pages. Honestly though, I didn’t mind that at all! I flew through these chapters because I loved the setting and the characters so much! I drank in their past and all the details of how things worked. A lot of it is set up for Alex (Galaxy) as she is being mentored by Darlington into this new world of Yale and secret societies. There was also a slow stall around the 1/2 to 3/4 mark but then it shoots like a rocket for the last quarter and I couldn’t put it down!
I realize that this book isn’t going to be for everyone. The main character isn’t completely lovable, there’s a lot of graphic stuff that happens that not everyone will want to read about, but this is just the kind of book that I love! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Leigh Bardugo writes great adult! Even Six of Crows read to me like the characters were all in their 30’s and would have been even better had there been some more adult content. Leigh Bardugo is a dark mistress that has captured my heart!
Until next time, happy reading!