PODCAST

Episode 303: Leigh Bardugo

BY MEGAN LABRISE • January 17, 2023

Leigh Barduo takes us to hell and back in the thrilling follow-up to ‘Ninth House.’

On this week’s episode, No. 1 bestselling author Leigh Bardugo joins us to discuss Hell Bent (Flatiron Books, Jan. 10), the second book in the magical murder-mystery series chronicling the high-octane adventures Yale University’s most unlikely undergraduate, Alex Stern.

Bardugo, the author of the Shadow and Bone trilogy—and executive producer of the popular Neflix series based on the books—joined us in 2019 to discuss Ninth House. In that book, readers meet Alex Stern, a tough and talented young woman with the power to see the dead—and to oversee the occult activities of Yale’s infamous secret societies. In Hell Bent, she’s a sophomore, “[fighting] for her life as she balances academics with supernatural extracurriculars in this smart fantasy thriller” (starred review).

Here’s a bit more from Kirkus on Hell Bent: “Galaxy ‘Alex’ Stern is a member of Lethe House, the ninth of Yale’s secret societies. And not just any member—she’s Virgil, the officer who conducts the society's rituals. In the world of Bardugo’s Alex Stern series, Yale’s secret societies command not just powerful social networks, but actual magic; it’s Lethe’s job to keep that magic in control. Alex is new to the role. She had to take over in a hurry after the previous Virgil, Darlington, her mentor and love interest, disappeared in a cliffhanger at the end of the first book. He appears to be in hell, but is he stuck there for good?…The plot is relentless and clever, and the writing is vivid, intelligent, and funny at just the right moments, but best of all are the complex characters…each with a backstory that makes it possible for the reader to trust them to enter hell and have the strength to leave again.”

Bardugo and host Megan Labrise discuss whether Lunar New Year 2023 influenced Hell Bent’s cover art; what Alex Stern is up to in the new book; the fates of several other recurring characters; exploring social hierarchies in fiction; privilege, power, and exclusion; Ludovico Einaudi; whether it’s harder to begin or continue a series; a sacred truth about writing; where you’ll find Leigh at a writers’ party; and much more.

Then editors Laura Simeon, Mahnaz Dar, Eric Liebetrau, and Laurie Muchnick share their top picks in books for the week.

 

Editors’ picks:

My Selma by Willie Mae Brown (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Mr. Lincoln Sits for His Portrait by Leonard S. Marcus (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

What If? 2: Additional Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe (Riverhead)

Shubeik Lubeik by Deena Mohamed (Pantheon)

 

Also mentioned on this episode:

His Truth Is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope by Jon Meacham (Random House)

The March series by John Lewis with Andrew Aydin, illus. by Nate Powell (Top Shelf Productions)

 

Thanks to our sponsors:

The Huntsman by Judith Sanders

My Place in the Sun by George Stevens, Jr.

Unleash the Girls by Lisa Z. Lindahl

Satan’s Glove by Louis Anthony Agnello and Carolyn Rae

Babylon Dreams by M.K. Noble

 

 

Fully Booked is produced by Cabel Adkins Audio and Megan Labrise.

 

 

 

 

Our Take On This Week's Bestsellers

Our Verdict

SKIP IT

Our Verdict

SKIP IT

Our Verdict

GET IT

Our Verdict

GET IT

Our Verdict

GET IT

Our Verdict

GET IT

Our Verdict

GET IT

Our Verdict

GET IT

Our Verdict

GET IT

Our Verdict

GET IT

Our Verdict

GET IT

Our Verdict

GET IT

Our Verdict

GET IT

Our Verdict

SKIP IT

Our Verdict

SKIP IT

Advertisement

The Magazine: Kirkus Reviews

Featuring 353 industry-first reviews of fiction, nonfiction, children’s and YA books; also in this special anniversary issue: celebrating 90 years of book reviewing, plus interviews with Jessica George, Lamya H, Oleksandr Shatokhin, and Nick Brooks

subscribe
  • kirkus star
  • The Kirkus Star

    One of the most coveted designations in the book industry, the Kirkus Star marks books of exceptional merit.

  • kirkus prize
  • The Kirkus Prize

    The Kirkus Prize is among the richest literary awards in America, awarding $50,000 in three categories annually.

Great Books & News Curated For You

Be the first to read books news and see reviews, news and features in Kirkus Reviews. Get awesome content delivered to your inbox every week.

Thank you!