Ninth House

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From the author of Shadow and Bone, now a hit NETFLIX series

The smash New York Times bestseller from Leigh Bardugo, a mesmerizing tale of power, privilege, and dark magic set among the Ivy League elite.

“The best fantasy novel I’ve read in years, because it’s about real people….Impossible to put down.” –Stephen King

Goodreads Choice Award Winner
Locus Finalist

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. In fact, by age twenty, 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 prestigious universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. Their eight windowless “tombs” are the well-known haunts of the rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street’s biggest players. But their occult activities are more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive. They tamper with forbidden magic. They raise the dead. And, sometimes, they prey on the living.

Don’t miss the highly-anticipated sequel, Hell Bent.



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2. Last Fall
3. Winter
3. Winter


Where do we begin to tell the story of Lethe? Does it begin in 1824 with Bathsheba Smith? Perhaps it should. But it would take another seventy years and many more disasters before Lethe would come to be. So instead we point to 1898, when Charlie Baxter, a man with no home and of no consequence, turned up dead with burns to his hands, feet, and scrotum, and a black scarab where his tongue should be. Accusations flew and the societies found themselves under threat from the university. To heal the rift and—let us speak frankly—to save themselves, Edward Harkness, a member of Wolf’s Head, joined with William Payne Whitney of Skull and Bones, and Hiram Bingham III of the now-defunct Acacia Fraternity, to form the League of Lethe as an oversight body for the societies’ occult activities.

From these earliest meetings rose our mission statement: We are charged with monitoring the rites and practices of any senior societies trafficking in magic, divination, or otherworldly discourse, with the express intent of keeping citizens and students safe from mental, physical, and spiritual harm and of fostering amicable relations between the societies and school administration.

Lethe was funded by an infusion of capital from Harkness and a mandatory contribution from the trusts of each of the Ancient Eight. When Harkness tapped James Gamble Rogers (Scroll and Key, 1889) to create a plan for Yale and design many of its structures, he ensured that safe houses and tunnels for Lethe would be built throughout the campus.

Harkness, Whitney, and Bingham drew on knowledge from each of the societies to create a storehouse of arcane magic for use by the deputies of Lethe. This was added to significantly in 1911, when Bingham traveled to Peru.

—from The Life of Lethe: Procedures and Protocols of the Ninth House

5. Winter
5. Winter


Aurelian, home to the would-be philosopher kings, the great uniters. Aurelian was founded to embrace ideals of leadership and, supposedly, to bring together the best of the societies. They modeled themselves as a kind of New Lethe, tapping members from every society to form a leadership council. That didn’t last long. Lively debate gave way to raucous argument, new members were recruited, and they soon became as clannish as the other Houses of the Veil. In the end, their magic has a fundamental practicality best suited to the working professional, less a calling than a trade. That has made them the object of ridicule by some with more delicate sensibilities, but when Aurelian found themselves banned from their own “tomb” and without permanent address, they managed to survive where other Houses have foundered—by hiring themselves out to the highest bidder.

—from The Life of Lethe: Procedures and Protocols of the Ninth House

They just lack any kind of style. Sure, they occasionally burp out a senator or an author of middling renown, but Aurelian nights always feel a bit like you’ve been handed the transcript to a juicy court case. You start out excited, and by page two you realize it’s all a lot of words and not much drama.

Lethe Days Diary of Michelle Alameddine (Hopper College)

7. Winter
8. Winter
9. Winter
9. Winter


Manuscript, the young upstart among the Houses of the Veil but arguably the society that has weathered modernity best. It is easy to point to its Oscar winners and television personalities, but their alumni also include advisers to presidents, the curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and, perhaps most tellingly, some of the greatest minds in neuroscience. When we speak of Manuscript, we talk of mirror magic, illusions, great glamours of the type that can make a star, but we would do well to remember that all of their workings derive from the manipulation of our own perception.

—from The Life of Lethe: Procedures and Protocols of the Ninth House

Don’t go to a Manuscript party. Just don’t.

Lethe Days Diary of Daniel Arlington (Davenport College)

11. Winter
11. Winter


Wolf’s Head, fourth of the Houses of the Veil, though Berzelius would argue the point. Members practice therianthropy and consider simple shapeshifting to be base magic. They focus instead on the ability to retain human consciousness and characteristics while in animal form. Primarily used for intelligence gathering, corporate espionage, and political sabotage. Wolf’s Head was a major recruitment ground for the CIA in the 1950s and ’60s. It can take days for someone to shake off the traits of an animal after a shifting ritual. Keep discussions of an important or sensitive nature around animals to a minimum.

—from The Life of Lethe: Procedures and Protocols of the Ninth House

I’m tired and my heart won’t stop racing. My eyes look pink. Not the whites. The irises. When Rogers said we were going to fuck like rabbits, I didn’t think he meant actual rabbits.

Lethe Days Diary of Charles “Chase” MacMahon (Saybrook College ’88)

12. Winter


We may wish to pass more quickly over Book and Snake, and who could blame us? There is an element of the unsavory to the art of necromancy, and this natural revulsion can be nothing but increased by the way the Lettermen have chosen to present themselves. When entering their giant mausoleum, one can hardly forget one is entering a house of the dead. But it is perhaps best to put aside fear and superstition and instead contemplate a certain beauty in their motto: Everything changes; nothing perishes. In truth, the dead are rarely raised beneath their showy pediments. No, the bread and butter of the Lettermen is intelligence, gathered from a network of dead informants, who traffic in all manner of gossip and who needn’t listen at keyholes when they can simply walk unseen through walls.

—from The Life of Lethe: Procedures and Protocols of the Ninth House

Tonight Bobbie Woodward coaxed the location of an abandoned speakeasy from what looked like little more than the remnants of a spine, a broken jawbone, and a hunk of hair. There is no amount of Jazz Age bourbon that can make me forget that sight.

Lethe Days Diary of Butler Romano (Saybrook College ’65)

14. Winter
15. Winter
16. Winter
16. Winter


Whether the magic of Scroll and Key was learned or stolen from Middle Eastern sorcerers during the Crusades is not really a matter of debate—fashions change, thieves become curators—though the Locksmiths still like to protest that their mastery of portal magic was gotten by strictly honest means. The exterior of the Scroll and Key tomb pays homage to the origins of their power, but the interior of the tomb is nonsensically devoted to Arthurian legend, complete with a round table at its heart. There are some who claim the stone comes from Avalon itself, others who swear it comes from the Temple of Solomon, and still others who whisper it was quarried down the road in Stony Creek. Regardless of its origins, everyone from Dean Acheson to Cole Porter to James Gamble Rogers—the architect responsible for Yale’s very bones—has jostled elbows at it.

—from The Life of Lethe: Procedures and Protocols of the Ninth House

Sunburn keeping me awake. Andy said we’d be in Miami in time for kickoff no problem, all of it on the books and approved by the S&K board and the alumni. But whatever magic they got cooking went wobbly fast. At least now I’ve seen Haiti?

Lethe Days Diary of Naomi Farwell (Timothy Dwight College ’89)

18. Last Fall
19. Last Summer
20. Winter
20. Winter


Is there something unnatural in the very fabric of New Haven? In the stone used to raise its buildings? In the rivers from which its great elms drink? During the War of 1812, the British blockaded New Haven Harbor, and poor Trinity Church—not yet the Gothic palace now gracing the green—had no way of accessing the necessary lumber for its construction. But Commander Hardy of the Royal British Navy heard of the purpose for which the great roof beams were intended. He permitted them to pass and they were floated down the Connecticut River. “If there is any place on earth that needs religion,” he said, “it is this New Haven. Let the rafts go through!”

—from Lethe: A Legacy

Why do you think they built so many churches here? Somehow the men and women of this city knew: Their streets were home to other gods.

Lethe Days Diary of Elliot Sandow (Branford College ’69)

22. Winter
23. Winter
24. Winter
25. Winter
26. Winter
27. Winter
27. Winter


Others may falter and take the false step. What penalty but pride?

Ours is the calling of the final trumpet on the horseman’s last ride.

Ours is the answer given without pause and none too soon.

Death waits on black wings and we stand hoplite, hussar, dragoon.

—“To the Men of Lethe, Cabot Collins (Jonathan Edwards College, ’55)

Cabsy wasn’t actually any good as far as poets go. Seems to have missed the last forty years of verse and just wants to write Longfellow. It’s ungenerous to carp, what with him losing his hands and all, but I’m not sure even that justifies two hours cooped up at Il Bastone, listening to him read from his latest masterpiece while poor Lon Richardson is stuck turning the pages.

Lethe Days Diary of Carl Roehmer (Branford College ’54)

29. Early Spring
30. Early Spring
31. Early Spring
31. Early Spring


We say “the Veil,” but we know there are many Veils, each a barrier between our world and the beyond. Some Grays remain sequestered behind all of them, never to return to the living; others may be glimpsed in our world by those willing to risk Hiram’s Bullet, and others may pierce still further into our world to be seen and heard by ordinary folk. We know too that there are many borderlands where the dead may commune with the living, and we have long suspected that there are many afterlives. A natural conclusion is that there are also many hells. But if there are such places, they remain opaque to us, unknown and undiscovered. For there is no explorer so intrepid or daring that he would dare to walk the road to hell—no matter how it may be paved.

—from The Life of Lethe: Procedures and Protocols of the Ninth House

Cuando ganeden esta acerrado, guehinam esta siempre abierto.

While the Garden of Eden may be closed, Hell is always open.

—Ladino saying

The Houses of the Veil


The Houses of the Veil

“The Ancient Eight”


Skull & Bones — 1832

Rich or poor, all are equal in death.

Teachings: Extispicy and splanchomancy. Divination using human and animal entrails.

Notable Alumni: William Howard Taft, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, John Kerry.

Scroll & Key — 1842

Have power on this dark land to lighten it, and power on this dead world to make it live.

Teachings: Duru dweomer, portal magic. Astral and etheric projection.

Notable Alumni: Dean Acheson, Gary Trudeau, Cole Porter, Stone Phillips.

Book & Snake — 1863

Everything changes, nothing perishes.

Teachings: Nekyia or nekromanteía, necromancy and bone conjuring.

Notable Alumni: Bob Woodward, Porter Goss, Kathleen Cleaver, Charles Rivkin.

Wolf’s Head — 1883

The strength of the pack is the wolf. The strength of the wolf is the pack.

Teachings: Therianthropy.

Notable Alumni: Stephen Vincent Benét, Benjamin Spock, Charles Ives, Sam Wagstaff.

Manuscript — 1952

Dream delivers us to dream, and there is no end to illusion.

Teachings: Mirror magic and glamours.

Famous Alumni: Jodie Foster, Anderson Cooper, David Gergen, Zoe Kazan.


Aurelian — 1910

Teachings: Logomancy—word binding and divination through language.

Notable Alumni: Admiral Richard Lyon, Samantha Power, John B. Goodenough.

St. Elmo’s — 1889

Teachings: Tempestate Artium, elemental magic, storm calling.

Notable Alumni: Calvin Hill, John Ashcroft, Allison Williams.

Berzelius — 1848

Teachings: None. Founded in the tradition of its namesake, Jöns Jacob Berzelius, the Swedish chemist who created a new system of chemical notation that left the secrecy of alchemists in the past.

Notable Alumni: None.


On Sale
Oct 8, 2019
Page Count
448 pages