Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
My Reddit secret santa gave me this book last year. I wasn’t going to read it but this author’s other books always show up on best-of lists. It doesn’t hurt that Yale had been my #1 choice, until I didn’t get in.
1) “People didn’t need magic to be terrible to each other.”
2) “That was what magic did. It revealed the heart of who you’d been before life took away your belief in the possible.”
3) “Peasant was a word poor people didn’t use. Just like classy was a word that classy people didn’t use.“
4) “There was worry, some embarrassment – another bit of proof that, no matter how many chain stores moved in, New Haven would never be Cambridge.”
5) “‘A lie isn’t a lie until someone believes it. It doesn’t matter how charming you are if there’s no one to charm.'” – Darlington
6) “His relief gusted through the room like a warm front, the kind that New Englanders welcome and that Angelenos know means wildfires.”
7) “But would it have mattered if she’d been someone else? If she’d been a social butterfly, they would have said she liked to drink away her pain. If she’d been a straight-A student, they would have said she’d been eaten alive by her perfectionism. There were always excuses for why girls died.”
8) “When she was fighting for her life, it was strictly pass/fail. All she had to do was survive and she could call it a win.”
9) “‘Why didn’t you just portal to the tomb – the table – and then go wherever you wanted?'” – Alex
10) “‘I have had many professions. Changed my name and my identity, building false lives to disguise my true nature. But I never made it to France.'” – Belbalm
In retrospect, this magical world was fun but the storytelling that revealed its components was tiresome. The constant flashbacks took me out of the flow and really killed any momentum. I liked the Yale component and wonder if I would have immersed myself more had I been familiar with the setting. It was also interesting that there was a lot of explicit commentary on the problems of New Haven, which I had felt as well when I had visited the campus.