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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo

In the second installment in Leigh Bardugo's Alex Stern series, Alex is as brave, scowling, and unapologetic as ever--and Darlington will need her mental fortitude, unorthodox thinking, and magical abilities if he has any hope of escaping from hell.

Ninth House, a book for adults whose story line is not connected to the Grishaverse, is the first in Bardugo's Alex Stern series.

I love returning to Alex's creative, irresistibly unorthodox approach to life and her grumpy, undying loyalty to her small group of trusted loved ones.

In Hell Bent, Alex Stern is determined to save Darlington from the clutches of hell, even if it costs her her precarious position as a student at Yale and her role at Lethe as an overseer of the university's secret society's magical goings-on.

Alex and Dawes must work secretly to try to figure out how to reach Darlington and bring him back, because their activities are unsanctioned. The outcome seems to have little hope of being anything but deadly.

They manage assemble an oddball group of allies (trusty local cop Turner, wonderfully loyal and nonmagical roommate Mercy, and hapless secret society outcast Tripp) that just might be able to pull off the impossible and bring Darlington home--but at what cost?

Hell Bent is clever and sometimes darkly funny, yet a somber undertone runs throughout it. Alex's past is far from free of blemishes and pain, and some of her life-and-death decisions required fortitude that it's tough for her to lose in order to be vulnerable with those she cares about.

The many hiccups and roadblocks to the scrappy group's attempts keep things interesting, and I was engaged throughout as Alex and friends bravely (and sometimes dirtily) fought for justice.

This was a four-and-a-half star read for me until the logistics of the magic late in the book felt to me as though they bogged down the story somewhat, but I love Alex Stern and her unapologetic badassery.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

I mentioned Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone series in the Greedy Reading List Six Royally Magical Young Adult Series. She also wrote the King of Scars duology (you can find my review of book two, Rule of Wolves, here).

Leigh Bardugo's Grishaverse is made up of her Shadow and Bone trilogy, the Six of Crows duology, and the King of Crows duology discussed here, which is expected to be the end of the interconnected series.


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