Dark academia was allegedly a big trend on Tumblr during the 2010s.
I was too busy having an IRL breakdown to participate, so I’m DOING IT NOW.
My general impression of dark academia is “collegiate spaces but make them creepy and possibly full of evil magic.”
Also, there’s dark wood paneling and everyone wears a beige sweater vest.
These books fit the bill.
The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
This is my favorite series to read when the weather gets cold. It has psychics, hitmen, and a demon or two. Best of all, the books follow private school boys wearing school sweaters. Academia, baby!
Though the first book takes place in spring, I like reading these in fall, as the opening scene sees the protagonist sitting with her creepy aunt in a graveyard on St. Marks’ Eve and waiting for the spirits of the not-yet-dead to arrive.
She sees and speaks to the spirit of her true love.
Then she meets him IN REAL LIFE.
HAPPY HALLOWEEN, EVERYBODY!
How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao
Someone murdered the top-ranking student at Sinclair Prep.
People are pointing fingers at her former friends.
Prep school competitiveness, sweaters, and (I imagine) a grand staircase? What more could you need?
The Ravens by Kass Morgan and Danielle Paige
I OWN this book and I’m not sure what it’s about.
I think I assumed it was a girl version of The Raven Boys and/or a remake of the disappointing Witches of Ash & Ruin.
A google search told me it follows a sorority of witches?
Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
This book has the horror and humor of Get Out along with the secrecy and social politics of Gossip Girl.
Seriously, this book is terrifying. I loved it.
The theme of finding hope at your lowest point wrung more than a few tears out of me.
Also, the EPILOGUE??? Ending of the year.
A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee
Ahem: sapphic witches attend a boarding school where several students were killed in an apparent pagan ritual.
I won’t be giving you anything else.
The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass
Here’s what I know: a Black prep school student who can see ghosts crosses paths with the malevolent ghost of a school shooter.
I have been putting off reading this book because I think it’s going to scare the pants off of me.
It is, however, under 300 pages.
I WILL START THIS, BY GOLLY. I AM BRAVE.
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
Welcome back to the blog Ninth House, my favorite unlikely comfort read!
Is it creepy? Disturbing? A little gross?
Yes, yes, and yes!
Am I afraid of ghosts now?
I love everything about this book, even the ending.
Hell, especially the ending.
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
In the Dream House chronicles Machado’s experiences living with her abusive girlfriend while participating in an MFA program.
Machado balances horror writing with case studies about abuse in sapphic relationships. It’s fascinating.
Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas
How is Catherine House like the song “Hotel California?” I’m not telling.
It’s hard to adequately explain this book. I thought it captured the weirdness of growing up really well.
There were creepy scenes that smacked of cult (or even occult) dealings, followed by large swaths of normal student life.
And I just want to say…yeah, that’s how college felt for me.
We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry
I’ve had my eye on this book for a long time but haven’t committed to picking it up until now.
If I’m understanding the synopsis correctly, a field hockey team from Salem, Massachusetts performs a ritual that helps them win games.
I’m not really into sports, but this seems like a perfectly sensible thing to do.
If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio
Okay, yes, this book is about shitty theater kids.
HOWEVER, said shitty theater kids have hidden rivalries and secret yearnings.
They perform Shakespeare and plot murder.
I still think about the ending. My God.
They Never Learn by Layne Fargo
A professor targets sexual predators on campus.
Add this book to my Weirdly Comforting Autumn Reads list.
They Never Learn is intense, so check out content warnings before reading. (Same goes for all of these books.)
There was a great twist that made me read the book differently. I loved it.
I also love that this book deconstructed the “nice guy” trope.
“Cathartic” perfectly describes this reading experience.
Bunny by Mona Awad
This remains one of the weirdest books I’ve ever read.
The codependency in the creative writing cohort really hit home for me.
I love and hate how accurate this book felt.
Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo
My friend Rogier has been freaking out about this book since it was announced.
I know very little except that it’s a queer Southern gothic with street racing and possibly some gay ghosts.
(I am contractually obligated to say this: Ronan Lynch vibes.)
A Lesson in Thorns by Sierra Simone
The cover of this book tells me something erotic this way comes.
I feel like all the characters wear button-down shirts and talk about poetry (among other things.)
The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake
From what I gather, six magicians are recruited by a secret society based on the Library of Alexandria.
Of the six, five will be initiated and one will die.
That sounds incredibly fun to me.
Also, yes, TikTok is determining my TBR at this point. Leave me alone.
Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey
This book is more of a noir novel, BUT it takes place at a magic school.
Gailey contrasts the resentment fueled by a highly academic environment with the jealousies fostered between twins.
There’s also a GRUESOME murder.
It’s great. Highly recommend.
October seems like the perfect month to get into dark academia.
You know how well I stick to planned TBRs.
That is to say, not at all.
Oh well. I’ve got options and so do you!
Happy dark academia fall!