To help guide readers as they enter this world of dark academia, secret societies, murder mysteries, and underhanded conspiracies, we’ve broken down the characters from the Alex Stern series below.
(image credit: Jasmin Hinss)
Galaxy “Alex” Stern is a high-school dropout, who wakes in the hospital after the traumatic death of her best friend and their drug dealer boyfriends. She’s offered a full ride to Yale by Dean Sandow due to her ability to see ghosts. She’s quick and has street smarts but quickly falls behind on her coursework as she participates in Lethe, a magical organization. She’s pretty jaded from her difficult past, but her own set of morals—despite being a killer—keeps her fighting for those no one else seems to want to help.
Daniel Arlington aka “Darlington” is a senior at Yale and Alex’s mentor—Virgil to her Dante. Although he has gone missing at the onset of the story, we get to know him in flashbacks and his own point of view. Darlington is an occult expert and the top-performing gentleman of Lethe. But he is jealous of Alex and her natural abilities when he has to try so hard to touch magic. Sandow was also his ticket to Yale and secret societies in an eerily similar situation as Alex, which he took for the mere chance at entering the world of magic.
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Pamela Dawes is an incredibly intelligent research assistant and the Oculus for House Lethe. She’s not super warm with Alex at the onset when Darlington is missing as he was one of the few who knew the real her and treated her well. As she watches Alex put herself in danger for those around her, Dawes and Alex forge a friendship. Overall, she remains kind and helpful, even when fear and anxiety make her want to stay out of the danger and drama.
Abel Turner is the Centurion and the official liaison between the Lethe House and the Chief of Police. Turner is a New Haven detective, and when a local girl is murdered, he must work with Alex to solve it. Smart and ambitious, he is one of the good guys. He also hates catering to the privileged, which makes him harsh and sarcastic most of the time. Eventually, he and Alex become allies.
A student at Yale, Mercy Zhao is Alex’s roommate, along with another girl, Lauren. She and Alex clicked early and became friends. Mercy is highly intelligent and talented, playing piano at a young age and scoring 1600 on her SATs, among other accomplishments. Fashion-forward, Mercy embraces her individuality instead of trying to fit in at the university.
Bertram Boyce North, also known as The Bridegroom, in an infamous Gray for a murder/suicide, killing his fiance, Daisy Fanning Whitlock and himself in his family’s factory just a mile from Yale. He attaches himself to Alex, helping her so that she can help him clear his name. The problem is: he has ghost amnesia and cannot remember the circumstances of his death.
North’s fiance, Daisy Fanning Whitlock was supposedly killed in 1854 by her soon-to-be husband. Part of the plot involves solving the mystery of her death, so we won’t spoil it here. Just know, she appears in the present of the story and could communicate with the Grays.
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Hellie Watson is Alex’s best friend, deceased. She had a hard life after her mother kicked her out, falling in with a bad group after being homeless. Hellie overdoses in the bed beside Alex, and her ghost—a Gray—embodies Alex to kill the abusive men they were staying with.
The Grays are ghosts, remaining behind the veil in the human world. Most people can only see them when they ingest a potion called Orozcerio, although a few, like Alex Stern, can see them without it. Usually passive, they can form a connection with humans, who must defend themselves with salt and death words. Grays are drawn to reminders of life and strong emotions rather than places of death, like cemeteries or the scenes of their murders.
Dean Elliot Sandow is influential and instigates both Alex and Darlington’s entrances to the magical societies at Yale. He is the liaison between Lethe House and the university’s president. He comes off as a fatherly figure and seems to want what’s best for Alex and Darlington.
Tara Hutchins is the town girl who was murdered, bringing Alex into Turner’s path. She sold weed illegally with two others and dealt primarily to the Ancient Eight—better known as the magical secret societies harbored at Yale. She was sharp enough to traverse magic but had no innate ability for it.
Ninth House has many, MANY more characters, but this group should get you started.
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