Author Leigh Bardugo
Publisher Flatiron Books | 2019
fantasy | contemporary
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. (from Goodreads)
This review is spoiler-freeeee! 🙂
“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.”
First of all, HELL YES. Second of all, yes I put that entire quote up there because it’s frickin’ GREAT and I love it so much. That is the magic of Leigh Bardugo’s writing and I love her so much.
I guess when I heard about this book I saw “Bardugo” and immediately blacked out and added it to my TBR, because I had NO idea this was a fantasy until I actually started reading it. And it threw me off. It wasn’t what I was expecting (I honestly don’t know what I was expecting; I really only knew this book involved Yale and that there were trigger warnings and that was IT), and this surprise made it difficult for me to get into it. I had to constantly talk myself into picking it up. I was super confused for the first couple chapters and the timeline was hard to make sense of at first. But, each time I made myself open it up again, I got sucked in immediately. I really finished this in about four or five sittings, because once I got past page 100, I was thoroughly invested in the world and the characters and I was like THANK GOD, YES!
“He needed her and she needed him. That was how most disasters began.”
I liked Darlington from the start. Alex took a bit longer to grow on me but she was a really fascinating character and by the end, I really liked her. I loved Dawes. I liked Turner. AND I LOVED NORTH. Thought that was gonna be problematic for me for a hot sec, cuz ya know, murderer, but WOOHOO IT WORKED OUT GREAT. Really hope he continues being a prominent character in the next book. I really enjoyed Alex and Darlington’s relationship. I’m a frickin SUCKER for a dual POV book, and this did not disappoint. The timeline was easy to follow once I got into it and each of Darlington’s chapters felt like a gift because I love their dynamic.
The plot really picks up, once you get a handle on how the societies work and the sequence of events. The last 200 pages are STRESS CITY because there is so much happening and SO MANY PLOT TWISTS and it was fantastic. I was super anxious throughout the entire last part and even a little bit spooked when I had to go outside in the dark by myself, haha. There was some controversy about the darkness of this book, but I thought it was fine. There’s obviously trigger warnings, but I don’t think anything was added to be unnecessarily dark. Leigh is so good at crafting the rules of a world and I’m so happy I ended up loving this! The ending was AMAZING and has me wishing the next book was in my hands right this moment. If this turns into a bigger series like Leigh is hoping, I will definitely be along for the ride. In the meantime I will go into hibernation until the sequel comes out (HEY DEMONS!!!!). LEIGH, I LOVE YOU THANK YOU FOR THIS SPOOKY, WITCHY OCTOBER BOOK.
Trigger warnings: graphic violence, murder, rape, sexual assault, rape drug, suicide, drug abuse, self harm, overdose