Dark-Academia Books is a relatively new genre in the Bookish Industry. This genre focuses on a character with questionable moral values and the book is set commonly in or around educational institutes. The environment of the book is very eerie and often, elements of magic are present. There is a gothic aesthetic in this genre. Furthermore, the presence of secret societies and cults and the presence of murder and thrill often make a reader’s heart race tremendously.
Dark-Academia Books are a new trend and many readers are drawn to them due to dark magic and gothic aesthetics. Here is a list of six Dark Academia Books that are a must-read if you are new to this genre.
1. Ninth House
Ninth House is an Adult Fantasy Book written by Leigh Bardugo. It is a part of the Alex Stern Duology. The second book in this series, Hell Bent will be published in 2023.
Ninth House is the story of Alex Stern, the only homicide survivor in an event. Alex’s boyfriend and Bestfriend, both die in the homicide event. When Alex opens her eyes she finds herself in a hospital. Dean Sandow from Yale University is asking Alex about the murders and ghosts. Alex says she does not know about anything and she can not see ghosts. We later find out that Alex can see ghosts as well as wield power from them.
“Peace was like any high. It couldn’t last. It was an illusion, something that could be interrupted in a moment and lost forever.”
Dean Sandow offers Alex that he will offer her a scholarship to Yale University if she joins Lethe, a secret organization within Yale that supervises other eight of Yale’s secret cults. Lethe is the Ninth House in reality.
Alex accepts this offer and has a new unexpected life waiting for her.
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2. The Secret History
The Secret History is an Adult Mystery Novel written by Donna Tartt. The story revolves around six students studying at Hampden College in Vermont.
“It’s a very Greek idea, and a very profound one. Beauty is terror. Whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before it. And what could be more terrifying and beautiful, to souls like the Greeks or our own, than to lose control completely?”
The story is told by Richard Papen, one of the six students. The story starts when Richard Papen confesses to the readers that he and his friends killed Bunny, one of the six students. They were all the students of a passionate Professor Julian Morrow, who taught them Greek.
Richard told that Bunny was the least rich and smart person of the six of them. Richard started noticing that his friends were all edgy toward Bunny but the reason for this was unknown to Richard.
He later came to know that his friends killed a farmer accidentally while practicing a Greek Ritual. Bunny saw all of this and was upset and was going to tell the police, but the others decided to kill him to save themselves from the police.
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3. The Dante Club
The Dante Club is a Historical Mystery Fiction written by Matthew Pearl. The book is set in the American Civil War and features several Historical Figures.
The Book starts when a Police Chief investigates a bizarre murder of The Justice of The Supreme Court Artemus Healey. Healey was first hit in the head and knocked unconscious. And then he was left to be eaten alive by maggots and wasps. The Police Chief assures the judge’s widow that he will bring justice to the judge.
“Pity without rigor would be cowardly egotism, mere sentimentality.”
Later another murder occurs and investigators are horrified to know that the killings are exactly happening as described in a book named Inferno. Inferno was a controversial book and was banned to read.
Obviously, This sparked a lot of fear in society.
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4. If We Were Villains
If We Were Villains is a dramatic murder mystery written by M. L. Rio. The book has many Shakespearean elements. The characters quote Shakespeare to each other and embody Shakespeare’s characters. Shakespearean themes such as love, jealousy, ambition, and murder abound as the characters blur the line between dramatic text and reality.
The book starts with seven acting students whose friendship comes unfinished as they are cast outside of their usual roles. This ends in the mysterious death of one of the seven friends, Richard.
“The future is wide and wild and full of promise, but it is precarious, too. Seize on every opportunity that comes your way and cling to it, lest it be washed back out to sea.”
Oliver, the book’s narrator confesses to killing Richard and was sentenced to prison for ten years.
However, the detective responsible for the case, Colborne, never fully believed Oliver’s confession. The question of who killed Richard and why adds suspense as Oliver finally tells Colborne the true story.
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5. Vita Nostra
Vita Nostra is a Russian mystery fantasy novel written by Maryna and Serhiy Dyachenko. It was translated by Julia Meitov Hersey.
The book has been described as an “anti-Harry Potter novel”, as it offers a darker, more mysterious and philosophical version of the ‘magical recruit’ trope.
The story follows Sasha, a high school graduate who’s been planning to enter university and study Linguistics until she is recruited by a strange, vaguely alarming man during a beach resort holiday who orders Sasha to attend a mysterious college in the little-known, provincial town of Torpa.
“The world, as you see it, is not real. And the way you imagine it—it does not even come close. Certain things seem obvious to you, but they simply do not exist.”
Unlike Harry Potter, Sasha and other students in this college were forced to come here, or else, evil may fall on their families.
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Babel is a fantasy fiction book written by R.F. Kuang. The full name of the book is “Babel, or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolutions”.
The story revolves around a Chinese boy named Robin Swift. He is orphaned by cholera in Canton and is brought to London by the mysterious Professor Lovell. There, he trains for years in Latin, Ancient Greek, and Chinese, all in preparation for the day he’ll enroll in Oxford University’s prestigious Royal Institute of Translation — also known as Babel.
“History isn’t a premade tapestry that we’ve got to suffer, a closed world with no exit. We can form it. Make it. We just have to choose to make it.”
When Robin has mastered English, Greek, and Latin, he is sent to the Translation Institute at Oxford, better known as the tower of Babel. There, Robin is acquainted with his classmates, all minorities of a sort, and they form a found family, as they struggle to find their places in a world that does not want them but needs them for their linguistic abilities.
But soon, Robin’s loyalties and moralities are put to a test and he realizes that he is a part of the system that will not hesitate to destroy his country.
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