IN her first book for adults, Leigh Bardugo reimagines the the secret club at Yale.

Still enveloped in fantasy, but at a new level.

THERE are many things that might attract a potential student to Yale, but the gloom of the dead-of-winter aesthetic in New Haven, Conn, is not the first that springs to mind.

Unless, perhaps, you come from California, and you hate the sunshine and you are Leigh Bardugo, future fantasy novelist.

''It was cold and gray, and it was in January,'' Bardugo said recently. describing the joy of her visit to campus, as an alienated Los Angeles teenager.

''You can't imagine what it was like for a young Goth kid, this place of stonework and bare branches and darkness and strange wonderful buildings. I felt so at ease there.''

Bardugo, now 44 and living back in Los Angeles, had chosen as her preferred interview location  Gold Bug, a Victorian-vibed jewelry-and-curio boutique named for an Edgar Allan Poe short story.

With its delicate taxidermied fawn, ostrich-egg chandelier and framed prints of lethal snakes, the shop is a little oasis of anti-Californian in a neighborhood of peppy athleisure stores. Bardugo loves it.

''Things that are dark and close to the other side are what brings me joy,'' she said.

If you read young adult fantasy fiction, you may well share the view. And you will most likely have heard of Bardugo, a superstar in the crowded genre, with books like ''Shadow and Bone'' and ''Six of Crows.'' Both set in the Grish-verse, a universe people can harness magic and science in extraordinary ways, for good and for evil.

Her books have sold more than three million copies in English, been translated into 41 languages and are in being made into a series commissioned by Netflix.

''Six of Crows'' spent more than a year on The New York Times's best-seller list. Bardugo's following  is passionate, nearly cultlike.

''Ninth House,'' her latest novel and first for adults, is set not in a fake universe, but in and around Yale dreamt of only in Bardugo's own philosophy. Its streets, for starters, are teeming with ghosts, many bearing the gaping wounds that killed them, who cluster around the living but can be seen by only a few.

The dean of the college does secret double duty as the faculty liaison with a shadowy organization called Lethe House.

In the alt-Yale, Lethe is charged with regulating the magic practiced at the eight most powerful of Yale's famous secret societies, known here as the Ancient Eight or the Houses of the Veil.

These elite clubs exist in real life, minus the occult nicknames, and their self-mythologizing exoticism is profoundly satisfying to their members and profoundly irritating to someone else.

''I thought, ''Wouldn't it be fun if these senior societies weren't just like old boys' networks and drinking clubs? What of they were centers of arcane magic? ' '' Bardugo said.

The honor and serving of great Book Reviews, continues. The World Students Society thanks author, Sarah Lyall.


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