Sunday 12 March 2023

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

Hell Bent
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: 10 January 2023
Pages: 481
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Bought Copy

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.


Prior to reading, I'd seen a few comments about how Hell Bent was a dull read compared to Book One and clearly just a placeholder until the Book Three finale. However, I didn't feel that way about it. Book One I'd gotten into slowly, only being captivated once I was a good third of the way through, but with Hell Bent I was invested in the world and characters again right from the first chapter. With all the exposition and world building out of the way in Book One, we could leap straight into the action. Yes, said action was a little more 'contained' in this book and was definitely about setting the scene for the final volume, but it was still riveting reading with plenty of tension and excitement along the way. I am especially keen to see how things will go with Alex and Darlington in the last book and I hope the wait for it won't be as long as it was to get this second volume. All up, this continues to be a good series and this latest installment gets 5 stars from me, the same as its predecessor.

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