This phenomenal and mature adult debut from a popular young adult author Leigh Bardugo is more twisty-turny-absorbing mystery than spine-tingling ghost story. Half the time, the ghosts that main character Alex see are just a nuisance to deal with. She's been bothered by the "Greys," and sometimes harmed and harassed them, her whole life. She forms a bond with one ghost, reluctantly, to solve a crime she knows the university is covering up. The more she digs, the more fascinating the story gets. It takes the reader in myriad directions: to many of the secret societies, a frat house, a prison, a drug den, a professor's salon, a warded safe house with a magic library, and even on the other side of the Veil. And the whole time she's missing her mentor, the gentlemanly and chivalrous Darlington, who's disappeared. What happened to him could be even worse than what she imagined, and is yet another intriguing layer of Ninth House.
Without Darlington, and with constant threats around her, Alex has no choice but to cast off her new Yale persona she's tried so hard to cultivate. It may help her fit in, but it's the grit and resilience she learned in her drug dealing years that will save her now. This Alex is reckless and impulsive and gets things done. Readers will be scared for her every minute as the pages fly by.