Audiobook Review: Hell Bent (Alex Stern #2) by Leigh Bardugo

Crushed on by Kelly BookCrushin, on October 27, 2023, in Reviews / 0 Comments

Audiobook Review: Hell Bent (Alex Stern #2) by Leigh Bardugo

Meanwhile, I was cute when I wrote all this below almost a year ago now…no idea why this review sat in drafts for so long, must have just gotten misplaced. So now I bring you all my little weird thoughts about Hell Bent, during the season of the devil – this dark academia series that is devilishly good & a healthy dose of weird – perfect for your fall reading!

Well let’s start off and say this isn’t the usual book you will see reviewed here at BookCrushin, but this adult, dark academia series is definitely one some of you are just itching to read, like myself, as Leigh Bardugo just has a way of writing, and I adore her worldbuilding and the way she weaves a story. I read Ninth House as an early reader, before it was released in 2019, and I was so excited to read Hell Bent ASAP on release! Not many books or releases have me ready to consume on release day, how about you?

Thank you to Macmillan Audio for the gifted audiobook!

Audiobook Review: Hell Bent (Alex Stern #2) by Leigh Bardugo

Hell Bent (Alex Stern, #2)

by Leigh Bardugo
Published by: Flatiron Books
on January 10, 2023
Genres: Adult, Horror, New Adult, Paranormal, Thriller
BookshopAudiobook through LibroFM

Wealth. Power. Murder. Magic. Alex Stern is back and the Ivy League is going straight to hell in #1 New York Times bestselling author Leigh Bardugo's Hell Bent.

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.


Possible minor spoilers for books 1 & 2 below you’ve been warned.

Hell Bent is the second book in the Alex Stern series, I absolutely was blown away by Ninth House, and when Hell Bent was finally released this year (3 years later), I read it as soon as I could! I didn’t read any recaps, or reviews of book 1, I just jumped in head first relying on the author’s craft to tell me about something I needed to remember…and look at that I started and was completely drawn back into this dark Ivy League world. So brilliant.

One of the things I love is that there is balance between character growth and deep dark world building…I will never be able to look at an old ivy league school the same again. Is there a secret skull hidden in that centuries old stone work…are there 5 points to that library building…are the students gathering in the quad making a true connection to the earth? I mean these are the every day thoughts of someone whose read too many dark academia books.

Now if you aren’t a slow burn fan, then this book might infuriate you, because the yearning was absolutely fire or glowing…literally. The tension between Alex & Darlington keeps winding tighter and I am expecting all the build up to completely break these two in book 3, and is it weird I can’t wait to see them go all hellbent on each other! I mean they both clearly desire one another, and I am expecting those kinds of sparks.

I don’t think we have any clues yet as to when book 3 will be released, but just know that Leigh is busy with her S&B empire which is one of my favorite YA fantasy series and the TV adaption has been brilliant! But when I assume the next book of this series drops (hopefully not another 3 year wait) it will be out of this realm and slap all of us readers really hard in the face. Because this book was damned to hell and we made it!

Speaking of, minor spoiler here… we got a couple of chapters in Darlington’s POA…so be prepared for many more in book 3, I feel it taking a big path in that direction. Also loved that the audiobook actually casted a different narrator for those as well…right on Macmillian Audio! And I can’t talk about the audiobook without mentioning the incomparable Lauren Fortgang, whom you might recognize from being the main narrator for all of Leigh’s previous books!

Content Warnings are a must with this series, there is a lot of weird stuff, but also some dark SA that gets addressed, and more. Remember this is an adult title, and yes the content is adult.

Audiobook Review: Hell Bent (Alex Stern #2) by Leigh Bardugo

Ninth House (Alex Stern, #1)

by Leigh Bardugo
Published by: Flatiron Books
on October 20, 2020
Genres: Adult, Horror, New Adult, Paranormal, Thriller

From #1
New York Times
bestselling author Leigh Bardugo comes a mesmerizing tale of power, privilege, and dark magic set among the Ivy League elite.

Galaxy "Alex" Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale's freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug-dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. In fact, by age twenty, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she's thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world's most prestigious universities on a full ride. What's the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale's secret societies. Their eight windowless "tombs" are the well-known haunts of the rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street's biggest players. But their occult activities are more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive. They tamper with forbidden magic. They raise the dead. And, sometimes, they prey on the living.

Ninth House is the long-awaited adult debut by the beloved author of Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows. Leigh Bardugo will take her place alongside Lev Grossman and Deborah Harkness as one of the finest practitioners of literary fantasy writing today.

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