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Hell bent
2023
Where is it?
Fiction/Biography Profile
Characters
Galaxy "Alex" Stern (Female), College student, Independent, Determined, Raised in Los Angeles: attending Yale on a scholaeship; works as a Virgil for Lethe House; plans to steal a soul from hell
Darlington (Male), College student, Mentor to Alex; sent to hell by a diabolical dean
Genre
Fiction
Occult
Supernatural
Thriller
Topics
Wealth
Power
Murder
Magic
Alliances
Secrets
Violence
Monsters
Setting
Connecticut - New England (U.S.)
Large Cover Image
Trade Reviews
Library Journal Review
Lauren Fortgang and Michael David Axtell return to narrate the second installment in Bardugo's "Alex Stern" series. The fall semester has started at Yale, and Alex must convince the other members of Lethe that Darlington is alive--as much as one can be when stuck in hell. After a failed rescue attempt, it becomes apparent that something wicked has arrived in New Haven. Alex and her colleagues look for other ways to save Darlington without the support of Lethe superiors, facing the demons from their past while battling the demons that have escaped into their world. Performing the majority of the audiobook, Fortgang transports listeners into Alex's story, allowing them to see the world through her eyes. Distinguishable voices capture the characters' personalities, keeping listeners immersed in the tale. Fortgang's narration captures Alex's disenchanted nature and the scars she's developed after years of psychological torment. Axtell's performance is short, narrating the few sections that are from Darlington's point of view. The choice of a male narrator for those sparse chapters adds something extra to the engaging production. VERDICT Fortgang's and Axtell's performances will have listeners eagerly awaiting the next book in Bardugo's wholly engaging, well-narrated series.--Amanda L. S. Murphy
Publishers Weekly Review
Bestseller Bardugo, best known for her YA Grishaverse novels, returns to the more adult struggles of Alex Stern, low-level L.A. drug dealer turned Yale scholarship student thanks to her ability to see and corral ghosts ("Grays"), in this thrilling sequel to 2019's Ninth House. Now employed as a Virgil by Lethe House, the Yale body that oversees the magical rituals of the campus's many secret societies, Alex is pulled in several directions as she tries to fill the role left empty when her upperclassman mentor, Darlington, was sent to Hell by a diabolical dean. Ignoring her patrons' instructions to move on, she persists in digging into the secrets of Lethe's past, searching for a way to open a portal and bring Darlington back. Alex's own past will not stay hidden either; her L.A. supplier, Eitan Harel, having learned of her ability, comes calling with jobs for her, including intimidating a strangely unaging former Yalie. Bardugo surrounds Alex with fascinating supporting players, among them a damaged New Haven cop and a naive roommate excited by the lure of the supernatural, while keeping the story's drive firmly in Alex's grip for another scrappy underdog tale. The taut plot, often grisly magic, lavish scene-setting, and wry humor combine to make this just as un-put-downable as the first installment. Readers will be wowed. (Jan.)
Booklist Review
Alex Stern returns for her second year of college as a representative of Lethe House, the body tasked with keeping the other secret societies at Yale in line. In the continued absence of her mentor Daniel Arlington (aka Darlington), Alex now serves as Lethe's first in command. Darlington is trapped in hell, and against all advice and common sense, Alex and her allies--a reluctant police detective, a Skull and Bones bro, Lethe's researcher, and Alex's roommate--set out to retrieve him. As in Ninth House (2019), Bardugo doesn't flinch from the dark sides of magic and human nature: everything requires sacrifice and everything has a price. Readers will be swept along as the group unravels an intricate puzzle to discover the location of the mysterious Gauntlet, which will open a doorway to hell. The problematic history of Yale and New Haven provides context for many of the clues, while also introducing additional threats. Even if Alex and her team do somehow manage to get to hell and find Darlington, how will they ever make it back unscathed? This portrait of a survivor's dogged determination to accomplish her goal will appeal to readers of dark academia, urban fantasy, and horror. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Though the author has said the book isn't for teens, adult and teen readers alike will flock to the sequel to 2019's Ninth House.
Kirkus Review
A Yale sophomore fights for her life as she balances academics with supernatural extracurriculars in this smart fantasy thriller, the second in a series. Galaxy "Alex" Stern is a member of Lethe House, the ninth of Yale's secret societies. And not just any member--she's Virgil, the officer who conducts the society's rituals. In the world of Bardugo's Alex Stern series, Yale's secret societies command not just powerful social networks, but actual magic; it's Lethe's job to keep that magic in control. Alex is new to the role. She had to take over in a hurry after the previous Virgil, Darlington, her mentor and love interest, disappeared in a cliffhanger at the end of the first book. He appears to be in hell, but is he stuck there for good? Alex and Pamela Dawes--Lethe's Oculus, or archivist/administrator--have found a reference to a pathway called a Gauntlet that can open a portal to hell, but can they find the Gauntlet itself? And what about the four murderers the Gauntlet ritual requires? Meanwhile, Alex's past as a small-time drug dealer is catching up with her, adding gritty street crime to the demonic white-collar evil the Yale crowd tends to prefer. The plot is relentless and clever, and the writing is vivid, intelligent, and funny at just the right moments, but best of all are the complex characters, such as the four murderers, each with a backstory that makes it possible for the reader to trust them to enter hell and have the strength to leave again. Like the first book, this one ends with a cliffhanger. Well-drawn characters introduce the criminal underworld to the occult kind in a breathless and compelling plot. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Summary

#1 New York Times Bestseller * Goodreads Choice Award Winner

"A tour de force of suspenseful pacing and empathetic writing." ―The New York Times

"All hail the queen of dark academia!" ―NPR

Wealth. Power. Murder. Magic. The Ivy League is going straight to hell in the sequel to the smash New York Times bestseller Ninth House from #1 bestselling author Leigh Bardugo.

A BEST BOOK OF 2023: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BookPage, Powell 's, and more!!

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.

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