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Get a first look at 'Hell Bent,' the sequel to Leigh Bardugo's 'Ninth House'

“I know it’s been a long wait for readers, but I’m thrilled to throw open the doors of Lethe once again," Bardugo tells TODAY of the novel, out next January.
Courtesy Jen Castle Photography

Stately corridors with dark-wood panels. Mansions covered with ivy. Secret societies. Oh, and murder.

This is a mood board for Leigh Bardugo's enrapturing 2019 novel "Ninth House," which reimagines Yale's real secret societies as places where magic is practiced and passed down among generations of students.

During her first year at Yale, Galaxy "Alex" Stern — an L.A. transplant with the ability to see the dead — is drawn into this world through her membership at Lethe, the ninth secret society that watches over the other eight (and prevents them from taking their divination, seances, and blood magic too far).

Bardugo's upcoming novel "Hell Bent," out Jan. 10, 2023, will continue Alex's story, and picking up after that cliffhanger. If you recall, Darlington — a senior at Yale — is literally trapped in hell. Talk about a study abroad trip!

“I know it’s been a long wait for readers, but I’m thrilled to throw open the doors of Lethe once again and welcome them to another tale of murder and arcane magic set at Yale," Bardugo told TODAY in a statement.

According to the official synopsis, Alex is determined to break Darlington out of hell at all costs. But when faculty members start to die, she knows that the magic is getting out of control.

See the exclusive cover reveal of Leigh Bardugo's "Hell Bent."
See the exclusive cover reveal of Leigh Bardugo's "Hell Bent."Flatiron Books / Macmillan

As the synopsis reads, "Something deadly is at work in New Haven, and if Alex 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."

Bardugo gave a preview of the upcoming novel in her own words: "'Hell Bent' is loaded with occult happenings, deadly grudges, forgotten poetry, peculiar romance, and bad behavior from villain and hero alike."

Essentially, "Hell Bent" is poised to be another literary foray into a cloistered world, where the privileged use magic and other occult-based means to make changes — and not always of the good variety.

“Ninth House” was Bardugo’s first adult novel, and was inspired by the her time as as student at Yale University. Bardugo is also known for her young adult Grishaverse novels, which include the "Six of Crows" duology the "Shadow and Bone" trilogy. These novels were the inspiration for the Netflix series "Shadow and Bone."

As a writer, Bardugo said it was a joy to return to the Ivy League setting of "Ninth House" and "Hell Bent."

"It feels so good to be back in this weird, dark, thorny world with Alex Stern. She’s a heroine I never get sick of writing. She just refuses to play by the same rules as the people around her — and that’s a hell of a lot of fun,” Bardugo said.