Leigh Bardugo fuels dark academia craze with ‘Hell Bent’

Fantasy writer Leigh Bardugo, known for her book series “Shadow and Bone” and “Six of Crows,” released a new edition in her adult fantasy series, “Ninth House.” Bardugo is well known in the book world for her whimsical storytelling and strong-willed characters that bring any reader to the edge of their seat.

Following the success of her two book series being turned into a show, Bardugo ventured into a new genre that gave her following more books to love. Bardugo’s new novel, “Hell Bent,” mimics the same feeling in her other books and brings her dark academia series to life.

This book is perfect for those who enjoy the aesthetic of dark academia. Photo by Rebecca Bleich.

As an avid reader who loves dark academia and other Bardugo books, this book for me was a preorder and a must-read. I preordered the novel right after it was announced and reread the first book several times over to live in that fantasy world just a bit longer. Right after it was published and given to the world, I got my copy and immediately started reading.

This book follows the main character Alex “Galaxy” Stern and her band of friends that are once again on the journey to find a gateway to hell and bring back her mentor. This journey is not the easiest and what is needed to complete this feat can cost her a spot in the Lethe — the organization that oversees the rituals and gathering of the “House of Veil” — and at Yale. Alex and her friend Dawes are on their own to solve the murders and find their beloved friend the Darkling, without the help of Lethe.

Much like the last book, nothing ever goes as planned when Alex Stern is involved. When murders of different professors around campus start occurring, Alex knows something fishy is going on, and she is determined to discover a way to solve the murders and bring back her mentor without bringing hell on Earth.

This book went another route than just picking up from where the first book left off and instead started with an unwritten scene from the first book. Bardugo gives you a little introduction when it comes to the beginning chapter of the book by giving you background on the characters, but she does so in a way that is different from other authors. Each of the following chapters of the novel talk about a scene that happened between the first and second book, filling in the gray area rather than her just stating everything that happened.

Throughout this book, I was on the edge of my seat trying to figure out what was going to happen and predict if she was actually going to accomplish what she needed to get done. Bardugo’s found family trope, dark academia vibes and dark alluring world kept me reading all the way to the end.

If you read the first novel or if you are looking for an adult fantasy novel, this book is for you. After reading it, it will have you wanting to go to Yale and join the society yourself. This novel brings the mystery, a strong female protagonist and the slow-burning love that all add extra allure to a fantastical plot.


5/5 Stars


Featured photo courtesy of Leigh Bardugo, Wikipedia.