What are dark academia books? In the book world, this genre is getting immensely popular.
Typically, dark academia books are those that have an academic setting. These books are set at educational institutions- boarding schools, colleges, universities, especially the elite ones. They could also take place in an academic library.
Dark academia books come in many styles. But many are centered around love, friendship, betrayal, murder, and revenge sprinkled with Gothic elements of mystery, thrill, and eerie.
Needless to say, this is one of my favorite genres and it can instantly make me come out of a reader’s slump. Here are a few of my favorites.
Best Dark Academia Books to Read
- Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
Leigh Bardugo is a favorite of YA readers- thanks to Shadow & Bone trilogy and Six of Crows duology. Ninth House is her first foray into adult fantasy fiction. It is set in Yale and follows Alex Stern who has the ability to see ghosts. The secret societies of Yale are known as houses and there are eight. Alex has to work for an order to protect the rituals of the eight magic societies. An upperclassman goes missing and a young woman is murdered — and there’s no chance of Alex getting any study done at all when the duties of the Ninth House call.
- A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee
A centuries-old eerie boarding school is haunted by its history of witchcraft. The story follows Felicity, a teen who returns to her eerie boarding school after the death of her best friend. Living with four other girls, including the mysterious yet charming Ellis, we follow a well-structured story that explores friendship, mental health, murder, and the school’s history with the occult. This dark and twisty thriller is one of the popular books of 2022.
- Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
Truly Devious is the first book of the Truly Devious series. Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth-century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history. True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case.
- If We Were Villians by M. L. Rio
Oliver Marks has just served ten years in jail – for a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day he’s released, he’s greeted by the man who put him in prison- Detective Colborne. As one of seven young actors studying Shakespeare at an elite arts college, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingenue, extra. But when the casting changes, and the secondary characters usurp the stars, the plays spill dangerously over into life, and one of them is found dead. It’s a thriller worth all the admiration that it’s getting.
- The Ivies by Alexa Donne
Alexa Donne delivers a nail-biting and timely thriller about teens who will stop at nothing to get into the college of their dreams. Too bad no one told them murder isn’t an extracurricular. Everyone knows the Ivies: the most coveted universities in the United States. Far more important are the Ivies. The Ivies at Claflin Academy, that is. Five girls with the same mission: to get into the Ivy League by any means necessary. I would know. I’m one of them. We disrupt class ranks, club leaderships, and academic competitions…among other things. We improve our own odds by decreasing the fortunes of others. Because hyper-elite competitive college admissions is serious business. And in some cases, it’s deadly.
- A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik
The book tells the story of Scholomance, a deadliest magic school where the only way out is graduating or dying. It gives Harry Potter and Deadly Games vibes. El, a teenage sorceress, is trying to make it to graduation from the Scholomance, while avoiding murderous monsters and her own maleficent destiny. There are no teachers, no school breaks and no going home. Demons are everywhere, ready to prey on anyone who lets their guard down. El’s determined to show off her incredible powers, but this proves difficult when classmate Orion keeps trying to save her.
There are quite a few note-worthy dark academia books apart from these. I am yet to read them but are on my immediate TBR.
- The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake
- The Maidens by Alex Michaelides
- The Secret History by Donna Tartt
- Ace of Spades by Faridah Abike-Iyimide
- My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
Do you have a favorite Dark Academia book? Let me know! I love recommendations!
I’m participating in #BlogchatterA2Z and My theme for the A to Z Challenge this year is ‘Celebrating the Bibliophile in me’, where I will be sharing the books, authors, and fictional characters that I love, loathe and tolerate.
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A as in My Love-Hate Relationship with Audiobooks
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C as in Covers Made Me Buy It
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Suchita Agarwal says
I love the sound of this genre and I absolutely love If We Were Villains. Read it last year!
Manali Desai says
I’m wondering, can we categorize the HP series into this genre? I didn’t know about dark academia. Thanks for the intro and I just might read one of these recommended by you here 😀