Dark magic, secret societies at Yale with world-altering powers, murder, mystery & mayhem! This was a very fun book, but does also delve into issues of addiction and trauma against the backdrop of how the supernatural can scar you. I will say that if you're triggered by reading about violence or sexual assault this might be tough, though I honestly didn't find it too graphic (if you're wary, look up the trigger warnings associated with the book first before you pick it up).
Sarcastic, badass Galaxy "Alex" Stern is a girl who can see dead people (Yes, I thought of it too... the Sixth Sense's "I see dead people"). The trauma she experiences from this ability leads her to a life of drugs and bad choices, until she winds up in the hospital, the sole survivor of an unsolved multiple homicide, where she is approached and offered a free ride to Yale University. Of course there is a price to pay - she must join a society that is tasked with keeping in check Yale's secret societies, each of which specializes in a different type of magic (there's a table at the back to help keep them straight). Under the tutelage of her mentor, Darlington, she begins to learn about and supervise some of their ancient magical rituals. She is especially well-suited to the task since she is the only person who can actually see the ghosts who haunt New Haven. But when Darlington disappears, and a young girl is found dead on the street on a "ritual night," Alex knows there's more to unravel than first meets the eye.
With compelling and complex characters, excellent world-building, and a lot of twists - some of which I saw coming, some of which I didn't - I really enjoyed this read. The depiction of a dark and mysterious world of Yale academia was, frankly, believable to me, and while I'm not usually one for the paranormal, Bardugo really did weave it together in a way that worked. The door is definitely left wide open for a sequel, and I'm excited for it, whenever that happens!
UP NEXT: Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie