Tag: occult

Author of ‘Six of Crows’ Releases New Adult Fantasy Novel

Leigh Bardugo is an incredible YA author famously known for her immersive worlds and cast of diverse, interesting characters. Her previous YA fantasy series include the Grisha trilogy, King of Scars, and the popular Six of Crows duology. Set in a world known as the Grishaverse in which different Grisha possess magical powers under different orders of magic—The Order of the Living and the Dead, the Order of Summoners, and the Order of Fabrikators—Leigh Bardugo created fictional countries with such unique cultures and locations that they almost seemed believable. And let’s not forget how much we all fell in love with Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows. Amidst the buzz about Shadow and Bone, the first book in the Grisha trilogy, coming to Netflix, Bardugo has decided to dive into a new realm of magic by penning her first adult novel.

 

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Bardugo’s new novel, titled Ninth Houseseems to be the first book set outside the Grishaverse. And this setting might be slightly more familiar to us—it’s New Haven, Connecticut. The book follows a Yale freshman with a bad past, Alex Stern. She was raised by a hippie mom and dropped out of school to mess around with drug dealer boyfriends and bad jobs. It’s unlikely that she would end up at Yale, but when she becomes the only survivor of a multiple homicide, Alex is offered a full ride to one of the most prestigious universities. Alex’s benefactors instruct her to monitor the suspicious activities of the secret societies within Yale, and she soon discovers that these societies are more sinister than one might expect. The Yale societies are made up of prominent rich and powerful figures who conduct occult activities and forbidden magic in windowless clubhouses referred to as “tombs.”

 

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Bardugo, a graduate of Yale herself, says that she’s had the idea for Ninth House since her first day in New Haven as a student. The book’s release date is October 8th, and Bardugo says, “October is the perfect time for sinister tales, and I hope you’ll find Ninth House to be thrilling, eerie, funny, and maybe a little unnerving.”

It’ll be interesting to see how Leigh Bardugo makes the switch from young adult fiction to adult fiction. Her books have certainly dealt with dark themes surrounding magic before, and they’ve always held a particular air of maturity for YA books. Still, maybe Ninth House will be even more mature now that Bardugo is incorporating some of her own experiences. It also makes you wonder just what Leigh Bardugo experienced at Yale to imagine their secret societies as something occult. But what even are the Yale secret societies? Does her fantastical interpretation have any weight?

 

 

Each Yale secret society is small and only allows fifteen members or so. As is to be expected, it’s almost impossible to find information about these societies or what they do, but many of them also have impressive amounts of wealth. Yale has forty-one secret societies that we know about, each with menacing names like Berzelius, Skull and Bones, Book and Snake, Wolf’s Head, and Scroll and Key. With names like Skull and Bones, why shouldn’t we be suspicious? Skull and Bones is probably the most famous secret society and its alumni include William Howard Taft, President George H.W. Bush, President George W. Bush, and former Secretary of State John Kerry. Most of the societies’ alumni seem to be involved in political or financial positions of power… possibly bargained for by occult means? The architectural style of the tomb-like, windowless clubhouses was designed with privacy in mind, so we may never really know what goes on inside.

 

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After a few break-ins to the “tombs,” the floor plan of the original Skull and Bones building was published and it seemed like a fairly normal clubhouse. Nonetheless, who knows what the members of the societies could be concealing behind hidden walls and doors? Maybe Bardugo discovered something in her time at Yale and is finally revealing the dark, supernatural truth.

With a mix of such creepy rumors surrounding the Yale societies in real life and Bardugo’s thrilling, intense writing style, Ninth House is sure to be an amazing first adult fantasy novel for this author.

 

 

Featured image via Flatiron Books

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3 Classic Authors with Spooky Ties to the Occult

In the wake of Darwinism, the world was left with one loaded question: what does this discovery say about God and the afterlife? This search for meaning helped to spawn the Victorian Era obsession with the supernatural, a movement that sought the answers to life’s big questions- by any means necessary. Seances, astral projection, and psychic readings caught the interest of the era’s intellectuals, including some of your favorite authors.

 

1. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

 

As it turns out, the author and creator of famous detective Sherlock Holmes was supernaturally gifted. Doyle was a devotee of the Spiritualist movement, a widespread pursuit of the mystical originating with three dubiously psychic sisters. In 1848, the Fox Sisters of Hydesville, NY used a pattern of taps to communicate with the spirits in their supposedly haunted house. In the United States, rampant industrialization (hello disease and poverty) led to a nationwide obsession with death. In a world where one-third of infants born in cities did not live over 1 year, the sisters thrived. Though they recanted their story in 1888, they later stated that they had been paid a bribe of $1,500 to… well, lie about lying. By that point, however, Spiritualism had its own supernatural power as a sweeping movement. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Spiritualist and mystery writer, was desperate to solve the greatest mystery of all: the secret of life beyond death.

 

Sherlock Holmes, creation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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Conan Doyle’s fascination with the Fox Sisters led him to attempt a seance during his time as a physician. Known to fervently believe in telepathy, Conan Doyle publicized his beliefs during his notorious and brief friendship with magician Harry Houdini. Conan Doyle believed that Houdini had actual supernatural abilities, and, with his wife, convinced skeptic Houdini to participate in a seance. Conan Doyle’s wife claimed to receive a telepathic message from Houdini’s late mother; unfortunately, Houdini’s mother didn’t speak English. Yikes. Friendship over. Undeterred, Conan Doyle continued performing seances with his wife to contact his relatives who died in World War One. He would abandon his fiction writing at the height of his fame, focusing exclusively on his Spiritualist beliefs. After a lifelong obsession with ghosts, he eventually became one. Medium Estelle Roberts famously claimed to summon Doyle’s spirit in front of a large audience at his funeral in 1930.

 

2. Charles Dickens

 

Charles Dickens, literary genius behind A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations, was also all about that spooky lifestyle. Close friends would say he had a “hankering for ghosts,” an obsession that lasted throughout his life. This passion is evident in many of his works, perhaps most famously in A Christmas Carol. Though he later became more of a skeptic, he still sought out evidence of the supernatural. Dickens once explained he would never rule out any possibilities: “don’t suppose that I am so bold and arrogant as to settle what can and what cannot be, after death.” More interested in the scientific and psychological aspects of the supernatural, Dickens went on to become a proponent of Mesmerism.

 

 

Live action adaptation of 'A Christmas Carol'

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The Mesmerist movement represented the crossover between proven science and faith in the unknown. A major part of Mesmerism was its focus on medical miracles and many (scientific?) attempts to cure disease with psychic energy. According to those who believed, a practitioner could put his patient into a trance and transfer his stronger energy into the weaker patient. This became (alarmingly!) a popular medical treatment in the 1830s and 1840s… not a time period known for its long lifespans. So much for your reason and skepticism, Dickens!

 

 

3. Henry James

 

Widely regarded as the bridge between American literary realism and modernism, The Turn of the Screw author Henry James had an occult connection through his brother. William James was a core member of the Society for Psychical Research, an organization of intelligentsia in pursuit of the secrets behind death. The Society sought to apply scientific principles to the unexplored territory of the supernatural. William himself was no crackpot, a Harvard man many call “the father of American psychology.” Although Henry James himself was not a member, the two brothers often stayed together, and Henry had frequent exposure to his brother’s ideas. One major area of William’s research was haunted houses, which he and the Society believed to be telepathic hotspots.

 

 

Haunted house graphic

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The Society for Psychical Research had a documented impact on the rising Gothic literary moment. Elements of Gothic literature include elements of horror, death, and gloom, along with the Romantic emphasis on intense emotions. William’s psychical investigations directly influenced Henry’s later ghost stories; it’s likely Henry also drew upon William’s paranormal research for his Gothic novel The Turn of the Screw.

 

As it turns out, anyone can believe in the supernatural, even the literary greats. So now the question is… do you?

 

 

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