Hey everyone! I hope you have been reading lots of good books lately. It has been a little weird trying to remember what happened in the previous book, Ninth House, that came out four years ago. You will have to forgive me for forgetting details from the first book. As with movies, I tend to be wary of late sequels but I do enjoy dark academia with magic. Without further ado, let’s talk about the long-awaited sequel, Hellbent.

Content Warning: Violence, Some Graphic Depictions of Death, Harsh Language

Galaxy “Alex” Stern has not given up on the idea that she can rescue her mentor from the depths of hell. The Ninth House, though, has forbidden her from attempting such a dangerous feat. Alex is far from deterred, though. With the help of friends, she will have to navigate all sorts of dangerous forces and perform rituals to retrieve a soul from hell. When members of the Yale faculty begin to die by supernatural means, Alex begins to suspect that someone is trying to interfere with her plans. The closer Alex gets to her goal, the more monsters appear to stop her and destroy everything she holds dear.

Because I only sort of remembered what happened in Ninth House, I had to really try to remember why I liked that book in the first place. Honestly, this sequel was rather underwhelming and had more style than substance. The first book was really intense and rather gratuitous with its depictions of violence whereas this one lacked any crucial lore or well-thought-out meaning. I realized, though, that these books took me back to my middle school/high school days when I loved books like The Vampire Diaries or The Mortal Instruments. They were these big, flashy supernatural sagas that dazzled my young mind with so many cool magic elements. As an adult, though, I realize that those books were kind of hollow. That takes me back to this particular book. I had a hard time absorbing anything that happened that wasn’t some big, magical spectacle. The characters and plot points are good in theory, but I felt the execution was kind of flat. I know Leigh Bardugo has become very popular rather recently and I’m always willing to try popular and lesser-known authors alike. I just think that Bardugo may not be the author for me. This is a long-winded way of me saying that this book suffers from “sequel-itis” and I don’t think this was worth the wait.

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