When Dex and I were waiting for our train to New York, we noticed an advertisement for a book called Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo (also author of the popular young adult series and Netflix show Shadow and Bone). The ad featured a quote by Stephen King, who called the book the best fantasy novel he's read in years, and mentioned how the book centered on New Haven. Intrigued, I wrote down the name of the book to eventually check out. Fast forward a week later, I grabbed a copy of the book from our local library and immediately proceeded to consume the book in two days.
Right after I finished, Dexter took possession of the book and finished in three days. We were captivated by the dark magical plot and giddy over the fact that the entire story took place in New Haven, referencing the street names and places we were becoming familiar with ourselves.
Ninth House centers on a Yale University freshman Galaxy "Alex" Stern, a high school drop-out and homicide survivor who can see ghosts, called "grays." Alex is mysteriously offered a full-ride to Yale, working for Lethe (the ninth house) and tasked with monitoring the eight Houses of the Veil, which are secret societies at Yale that harbor dark occult magic and power.
One of the best things about the book is that real history is interwoven with the plot. Dex and I had a lot of fun trying to parse through what was fact or fiction. One of the major focus of the book is on Yale's secret societies, which all actually exist. In reality, each secret society is small with membership often capped at 15 senior undergrads per society. These societies also have some impressive alumni. For example, Skull and Bones' alumni include President William Howard Taft, President George H.W. Bush, President George W. Bush, and former Secretary of State John Kerry.
The major societies have their own clubhouses, similar to fraternities, which are called tombs (some actually do look like tombs). No signs are displayed on these buildings so you really have to know what you're looking at ahead of time.
Because Ninth House focuses on a specific set of secret societies as displayed on the map above, Dex and I decided to take another tour of New Haven to locate these tombs.
In addition to visiting the tombs, we threw in some extra site visits to other important places in the book: