Date finished: March 26th, 2020

Format: Hardback

Pages: 458

First time reading?: Yes

From Goodreads: “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.”

Honestly, this book took me so long to finish. Not because it wasn’t good or because I didn’t enjoy it, but because I hit the biggest reading slump I have ever met while I was working my way through it. Two days off work in the midst of the COVID-19 UK lockdown (I’m a veterinary nurse, thus a key worker), however, gave me chance to smash through the final third of the book and finally reach the end.

I admit, I found the book jumping between past and present a little bit awkward to start with, and I found being thrust into the world of Lethe with little to no explanation of what was going on a little disconcerting, but once I found my feet I did find the story entertaining enough. Alex Stern is being trained at Yale University to supervise the eight ancient houses and their magical rites and rituals to ensure no one in this realm gets hurt or injured, but when a young girl is apparently murdered, coincidentally on the same night these societies gather, she suspects foul play is afoot.

While the story itself was entertaining, and Leigh Bardugo has a wonderful writing style, as I said I found being thrust into this universe a little bit daunting, as it felt like I needed to learn a lot in a very short space of time. I also found the main characters a little bit …dry … and lacking much personality. Alex’s backstory didn’t really feel as though it added much to the character in my opinion, and the same could be said for Darlington (the member of Lethe house training her). In my opinion although these characters histories was included to try and enhance them, I felt it didn’t really change much with either of them and neither of them had particularly standout personalities.

The relationship between Alex and the Greys – particularly the relationship with the Bridegroom – was a particularly interesting one, and one I hope will be explored later on. Although it did feel a little bit as though this side mission was tacked on as a way to get Alex out of trouble for a little bit, it because apparent at the end why it had been included. That said, I kind of predicted the final twist around halfway through the book, so when the reveal occurred I was completely unsurprised.

Despite all the negativity I’ve just spouted, I wouldn’t;t say this was a bad book; I don’t think it’s one I’ll read again in a hurry, and I probably won’t continue with the series (I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a series with the way it ended), but I’m still giving this book a solid 7/10. As much as the main characters didn’t interest me, I still found the actual storyline interesting enough. It probably didn’t help that I was reading most of the book through a gigantic reading slump.

My rating: 7/10