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Top 10 Dark Academia Books to Add to Your TBR

Are you searching for dark academia books to read right now? If so, then you’ve come to the right place.

Ah, dark academia! Such a captivating genre that blends mystery, intellectualism, and often a touch of the sinister.

Here’s a list of top dark academia books to read right now that you might find intriguing. Pair them with a cozy blanket, a cup of strong coffee, or perhaps a glass of red wine for the full dark academia experience.

1

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

The Secret History by Donna Tartt is a compelling and atmospheric literary thriller that follows a group of eccentric and enigmatic students at a prestigious liberal arts college in Vermont. Narrated by Richard Papen, a transfer student drawn to the allure of his new classmates, the story unfolds as he becomes entangled in their world of privilege, intellectualism, and dark secrets. Led by the charismatic and manipulative classics professor Julian Morrow, the group forms an exclusive and tightly-knit circle, delving into the study of ancient Greek philosophy and literature. However, their intellectual pursuits take a sinister turn when they become embroiled in a murder plot with shocking consequences. Tartt’s richly detailed prose and complex characters immerse readers in the haunting and morally ambiguous world of the novel. With its exploration of themes such as guilt, obsession, and the nature of evil, The Secret History is a haunting and thought-provoking meditation on the darker aspects of human nature.

2

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio is a gripping literary thriller that follows a group of Shakespearean acting students at an elite arts college. The story is framed by the confession of Oliver Marks, who has just been released from prison after serving ten years for a crime he claims he didn’t commit. As Oliver recounts the events leading up to the tragedy, the narrative delves into the complex relationships, rivalries, and secrets among the close-knit group of friends. Set against the backdrop of their intense rehearsals and performances of Shakespearean plays, tensions rise and loyalties are tested, leading to a shocking act of violence that changes their lives forever. Rio’s evocative prose and masterful storytelling create a captivating and atmospheric narrative that keeps readers guessing until the very end. With its richly drawn characters and Shakespearean themes, If We Were Villains is a compelling exploration of friendship, betrayal, and the blurred lines between art and reality.

3

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo is a dark and gritty fantasy novel set in the world of Yale University, where secret societies wield supernatural powers and ancient rituals. The story follows Galaxy “Alex” Stern, a young woman with the ability to see ghosts, who is recruited into the Ninth House, a clandestine organization tasked with monitoring the occult activities of the university’s elite societies. As Alex delves deeper into the mysteries surrounding these powerful groups, she uncovers a dark conspiracy that threatens the lives of both the living and the dead. Bardugo’s atmospheric prose and intricate world-building create a gripping narrative filled with twists and turns. With its complex characters, intricate plot, and richly imagined setting, Ninth House is a thrilling blend of mystery, horror, and urban fantasy that will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very end.

4

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik is a captivating fantasy novel set in a magical school where survival is the ultimate test. The story takes place at the Scholomance, a perilous institution where young wizards and sorceresses are trained in the dark arts. Galadriel “El” Higgins, the protagonist, possesses immense magical power but struggles to control it, making her an outcast among her peers. As El navigates the deadly challenges of the Scholomance, she forms an unlikely alliance with Orion Lake, a powerful but enigmatic sorcerer. Together, they must battle monstrous creatures and rival students while uncovering the dark secrets of the school. Novik’s vivid world-building and fast-paced storytelling create a thrilling and immersive reading experience. With its richly drawn characters and inventive magical system, A Deadly Education is a gripping tale of survival, friendship, and the quest for redemption in a treacherous world.

5

The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman

The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman is a captivating psychological thriller steeped in mystery and Gothic atmosphere. Set in the picturesque but haunting landscape of the Adirondack Mountains, the novel follows English teacher Jane Hudson, who returns to teach at the Heart Lake School for Girls, the boarding school she once attended. Haunted by memories of her troubled past and the mysterious deaths of her two best friends during her student days, Jane finds herself drawn into a web of secrets and suspicions as history begins to repeat itself. As she unravels the dark secrets of the school’s past, including the legend of the lake that gives the novel its name, Jane must confront her own demons and unravel the truth before it’s too late. Goodman’s evocative prose and skillful plotting create a tense and atmospheric narrative that keeps readers guessing until the very end. The Lake of Dead Languages is a haunting and suspenseful exploration of trauma, memory, and the power of secrets.

6

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides is a gripping psychological thriller that follows Mariana Andros, a therapist grieving the loss of her husband, as she becomes embroiled in a murder investigation at Cambridge University. When a young woman is found dead on campus, Mariana becomes convinced that Edward Fosca, a charismatic and enigmatic Greek professor, is responsible. Fosca leads an exclusive group known as the Maidens, composed of female students who idolize him. As Mariana delves deeper into the investigation, she finds herself drawn into the dark and twisted world of the Maidens, where loyalty and obsession blur the lines between reality and illusion. Michaelides crafts a suspenseful narrative filled with unexpected twists and turns, keeping readers guessing until the final revelation. With its richly drawn characters and atmospheric setting, The Maidens is a chilling and thought-provoking exploration of obsession, grief, and the complexities of the human psyche.

7

Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates

Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates is a gripping psychological thriller that explores the dangerous consequences of a high-stakes game among a group of college friends. Set at Oxford University, the novel follows six students who become entangled in a secretive and increasingly sinister game called the Game of Death. As the game progresses, the lines between reality and fiction blur, leading to a series of shocking and tragic events that haunt the characters for years to come. Yates skillfully weaves together multiple timelines, gradually revealing the dark secrets and hidden agendas of each player. With its intricate plot twists, complex characters, and atmospheric setting, Black Chalk keeps readers on the edge of their seats until the final revelation. The novel offers a thought-provoking exploration of the lengths people will go to in pursuit of power, validation, and redemption.

8

Bunny by Mona Awad

Bunny by Mona Awad is a darkly humorous and surreal novel that delves into themes of identity, friendship, and the pressures of academia. The story follows Samantha Heather Mackey, a cynical and isolated MFA student at a prestigious New England university, who finds herself drawn into a bizarre clique of fellow students known as the Bunnies. These privileged and enigmatic girls, all named Bunny, form a tight-knit and exclusive group that seems to operate by its own peculiar rules and rituals. As Samantha becomes increasingly entangled with the Bunnies, she is plunged into a twisted world of power struggles, manipulation, and macabre happenings. Awad’s writing is both satirical and unsettling, blending elements of horror and dark comedy to create a compelling narrative that challenges conventional notions of reality. With its vividly drawn characters and surreal atmosphere, Bunny offers readers a captivating and thought-provoking exploration of the complexities of human connection and the dark underbelly of ambition.

9

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth is a darkly comedic and atmospheric novel that weaves together elements of horror, mystery, and historical fiction. Set in a secluded boarding school in Rhode Island and alternating between two timelines, the story follows the eerie occurrences surrounding Brookhants School for Girls. As past and present intertwine, the narrative centers on the mysterious deaths of several students and staff decades apart, all linked to the production of a cursed lesbian pulp novel titled “The Happenings at Brookhants.” Danforth skillfully blends elements of gothic literature with contemporary themes, exploring the complexities of sexuality, ambition, and the power of storytelling. With its vivid descriptions, complex characters, and clever metafictional elements, Plain Bad Heroines offers readers a captivating and thought-provoking journey into the macabre.

10

The Truants by Kate Weinberg

The Truants by Kate Weinberg is a gripping psychological thriller that delves into the complex dynamics of friendship, desire, and betrayal within the confines of academia. Set in a prestigious university in England, the novel follows Jess Walker, an impressionable and ambitious student, as she becomes infatuated with her enigmatic professor, Lorna Clay. Drawn into Lorna’s inner circle, Jess finds herself entangled in a web of secrets and lies, leading to a shocking climax that challenges her perceptions of truth and loyalty. Weinberg’s prose is both lyrical and suspenseful, keeping readers on the edge of their seats until the very end. With its richly drawn characters and intricately plotted narrative, The Truants is a compelling exploration of the blurred boundaries between obsession and manipulation.

I hope you enjoyed this list of dark academia books to read right now. If you want to download the list, so you can check off the boxes as you finish each book, you can do so here: Top 10 Dark Academia Books to Read Right Now.

Juli Becker
Juli Beckerhttps://possibilitypress.org
I believe information can change lives. That’s why I’ve established Possibility Press as a beacon for those who are seeking inspiration. Let’s embark on a journey into the realm of possibilities together! Welcome to the Possibility Press community!

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