Book of the Year 2019 (see all)
I can’t remember the last time I wanted to step into a book so much, be part of a world so desperately. Even with all the danger, with the pain and darkness and death, it’s a place that feels like possibility…
‘She always told me there’s no doorway the devil doesn’t know. He’s always waiting to stick his foot in. I never really believed her until tonight.’
Alex Stern is no hero. Life has given her a serious Fuck You in the form of a very particular talent/curse and she's been more than willing to return that sentiment with interest. Getting a free ride to Yale is the kind of turnaround so unlikely she could never have imagined it, but just like everything else in her life, what appears to be a big step forwards actually means that shit is going to get a whole load worse. Because now she's supposed to be keeping an eye on a bunch of entitled rich kids who have powerful backers and aren't used to being told what to do. When things go seriously, fatally wrong, she has to work out just how much danger she's willing to take on to make things right, and maybe even act the hero after all...
I'd heard lots of great things about Leigh Bardugo from fellow readers but since I don't usually read YA, I hadn't tried anything by her before. Then this appeared. And it ticked all the boxes. Adult. Pitch-dark themes and content. Secret societies. The occult. The main character mysteriously surviving a brutal multiple homicide.... I don't know anyone who could resist that. I certainly couldn't. What an attention grabber. And that's before you get to all the juicy stuff inside... Safe to say it has all the ingredients for a great story.
And, wow, did it ever deliver. The book is incredible.
Not only is it a serious contender for my Book of the Year, it’s jumped straight onto my favourites of all time list. I felt like it was written for me personally. I want to shout about it to EVERYONE.
Alex is the kind of character you can't look away from, a survivor through and through. I've been trying to think of a comparison but all I can come up with is a bit Mia Corvere, a bit Faith. A whole load of her idiosyncratic and compelling self. She's more than a little troubled, with the kind of past that usually lands someone in prison or a grave, and not a little attitude. Watching her navigate Yale and provide her own kind of schooling for its students was a sheer delight. This book might be dark as hell but it's funny too. Ghosts and magic are all mixed into real life, giving it a dark appeal and sinister veracity, like a world just outside your vision. You might catch a glimpse if you turn your head quickly enough. Or perhaps it'll catch you— if you don't run fast enough...
In the final moments is just a hint of what might come next and I'm going to be first in line. In fact, if anyone gets there before me, I'll be shoving them aside with little (or no) remorse. In the meantime, I'll be reading this again and pondering what the hell is going to happen with a certain character who shall remain nameless but whoa... seriously. What. The. Hell.
Leigh Bardugo, you got me hooked.
Review by Emma Davis
Amy from USA
First off let me say that this book is pretty much YA fantasy and I am OA but still enjoyed it. If fantasy stories which open doors between our daily lives and the world of magic are what interests you then this book might be for you. The author sets the story at Yale University and entwines fantasy and New Haven history together nicely...It is that blending of our known reality into the realm of the author's world that intrigues me and I think this author has done a wonderful job! I am very familiar with New Haven/Yale and she has captured the buildings and vibe of this town quite accurately. I enjoyed the plot and the protagonist definitely catches your interest...I am looking forward to the next installment. I hope that the next book in this series continues to use the city of New Haven as a launch pad(it really lends itself to magic) and I hope that she allows her main character to mature a bit (there is a lot of room for growth)!
8.8/10 from 2 reviews