Hiya book friends! It’s my first review of the year already, I’m so proud of myself. Obviously as soon as Hell Bent came out I had to read it, because three and a half years between books is more than long enough. Best pray for a quick third book, because I will likely not survive another wait that long.
I actually have a review for Ninth House on here as well, which you can find here! This review is so old that it’s still written in my old style and it doesn’t even come with content warnings… Hell Bent does, though, so check those out if you wish!Hell Bent
Warning! This review will contain no spoilers for Hell Bent, but might contain spoilers for Ninth House
By Leigh BardugoMy Rating: ★★★★★
Published 10 January 2023 by Flatiron Books
Dark Academia | Mystery | Magic
Find a gateway to the underworld. Steal a soul out of hell. A simple plan, except people who make this particular journey rarely come back. But Galaxy “Alex” Stern is determined to break Darlington out of purgatory―even if it costs her a future at Lethe and at Yale.
Forbidden from attempting a rescue, Alex and Dawes can’t call on the Ninth House for help, so they assemble a team of dubious allies to save the gentleman of Lethe. Together, they will have to navigate a maze of arcane texts and bizarre artifacts to uncover the societies’ most closely guarded secrets, and break every rule doing it. But when faculty members begin to die off, Alex knows these aren’t just accidents. Something deadly is at work in New Haven, and if she is going to survive, she’ll have to reckon with the monsters of her past and a darkness built into the university’s very walls.
Thick with history and packed with Bardugo’s signature twists, Hell Bent brings to life an intricate world full of magic, violence, and all too real monsters.
Okay so apparently after three and a half years I don’t remember anything about Ninth House, who would’ve thought. I didn’t feel like rereading it, because honestly, it was a lot. Luckily I found a great recap and I was able to read Hell Bent perfectly fine based on just that!
It took me a lot less time to settle into Hell Bent compared to Ninth House. I didn’t really start enjoying that book until about halfway through. But Hell Bent had more than enough story for me to speed through it! There definitely were a couple of times when I thought our favs were doomed. Speaking of favs, I’m so glad that they got together more in this book. All characters are so chaotic in their own way, and I loved seeing more of each of them, even if the story is 99% Alex’s perspective. I truly love the found family trope and I hope it gets built upon even more in the next book in the series.
I have also become absolute trash for Alex and Darlington on the same page. The vibes were just there.
Again I massively enjoyed the Yale setting. I don’t know why, but both Ninth House and Hell Bent gave me the urge to go back to university?? It’s like my brain conveniently forget all the papers I had to write and only chose to remember the romanticized parts like drinking Starbucks on campus. Anyway, I loved that the book again came with a map, and also loved to compare it to Google Maps because I’m a nerd and that’s just something I enjoy. That said, the actual “college feeling” and the secret societies do take a little bit of a backseat in this book compared to Ninth House. What we get in its place, however, is riddles and mysterious, hidden stuff. Which I love, so no real complaints here. But it is quite a shift compared to book 1.
Another thing I loved is that the book resolves a lot of stuff from book 1, but raises more than enough questions for book 3. Alex’s powers are getting an upgrade, but no one quite knows what that means yet. I do hope that the secret societies will make a comeback, though. There was enough mystery, but the whole story centered around Alex and Lethe, and I would like some of that college feel back.
Anyway, this review has absolutely no flow, but I loved the book, so. I hope y’all will read this series too. (but seriously check those content warnings first).