Unveiling the Top 11 Dark Academia Books of the Year 2023
Welcome to the literary realm of dark academia, where mystery, intellect, and a hint of the gothic collide to create a captivating reading experience. If you’re ready to delve into the enigmatic world of the best dark academia books in 2023, you’re in for a treat. MyBookCushion has meticulously curated a list of the top 11 dark academia books that will transport you to ivy-covered campuses, secret societies, and minds teeming with intellectual curiosity. Whether you’re an avid enthusiast of dark academia or just beginning your journey, this selection promises a captivating blend of timeless classics and contemporary gems.
In our quest to unravel the essence of the best dark academia books, we’ve delved into the world of literature to unearth tales of intellectual passion, forbidden knowledge, and the thrill of academia with a twist. These top dark academia books are bound to resonate with readers who seek a narrative that balances intellectualism and intrigue. From psychological thrillers to historical mysteries, this list encompasses the very essence of what makes dark academia books a beloved genre in the literary world. Join us as we unveil the depths of academia through these masterfully crafted tales, where hidden knowledge and human nature collide in captivating narratives that will leave you yearning for more.
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Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo
The Spirit Bares Its Teeth by Andrew Joseph White
Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros
Step into the intriguing realm of the best dark academia books with Rebecca Yarros’ “The Dragon’s Veil: A Dark Epic Fantasy.”
In this gripping narrative, twenty-year-old Violet Sorrengail’s life takes an unexpected turn. Initially destined for the serene Scribe Quadrant, where books and history await, her formidable mother—the commanding general—forces her into a fierce competition. Violet must join numerous candidates vying to become Navarre’s elite dragon riders. But as a petite and seemingly fragile individual, she faces an imminent peril, as dragons typically do not bond with “fragile” humans; they incinerate them.
With more candidates than willing dragons, danger lurks at every corner, with some willing to go to great lengths to eliminate Violet, while others harbor resentment against her for being her mother’s daughter. Notably, Xaden Riorson, the formidable and ruthless wingleader in the Riders Quadrant, poses a menacing threat. Survival necessitates every ounce of Violet’s wit and resourcefulness. As the external war escalates and the kingdom’s protective wards weaken, a dark secret emerges, and the death toll continues to soar.
In the Basgiath War College, everyone, from friends to enemies and lovers, harbors their own agenda, for in this establishment, there are only two ways out: graduation or death. Dive into this epic fantasy, shrouded in secrets, camaraderie, and relentless challenges, and uncover the enigma of “The Dragon’s Veil.”
Blood Over Bright Haven by M.L. Wang
Venture into a world of enigmatic spells and intricate mysteries with “best dark academia books” like “The Cost of Magic.” In the city of Tiran, magic has ushered in an era of industrial prosperity, but every spell comes at a price, and the collectors are ready to exact their toll.
Sciona, orphaned since the age of four, has grappled with the need to prove herself more than her peers. She’s spent two decades devoted to mastering magic, her relentless determination fueled by a mad ambition—to become the first woman ever admitted to the prestigious High Magistry. Climbing the ranks to attain the title of highmage is a monumental achievement, yet it marks only the beginning of her challenges. Her new colleagues are relentless in their attempts to make her feel unwelcome, even assigning her a janitor instead of a qualified lab assistant.
What both Sciona and her peers are unaware of is that her seemingly taciturn assistant, Thomil, was once much more than a janitor. Before he mopped the floors for the mages, Thomil lived as a nomadic hunter from beyond Tiran’s magical barrier. A decade has passed since he survived a treacherous crossing that claimed the lives of his family. Now, working for a highmage, he senses an opportunity to uncover the truths behind the forces that decimated his tribe, led to his exile from his homeland, and upheld the Tiranish in power.
In the tumultuous relationship between mage and outsider, a long-buried secret comes to light, one that has the potential to reshape the world of magic forever, if it doesn’t threaten their lives first. Sciona has dedicated her life to the pursuit of truth, but in the face of a truth that could alter the course of civilization, how much is she willing to risk? “The Cost of Magic” is a compelling dark academia tale that unravels secrets, uncovers the past, and holds the fate of an entire world in its grip.
To Shape a Dragon’s Breath by Moniquill Blackgoose
Embark on a thrilling journey into the world of dragons and destiny with one of the “best dark academia books” – “The Bond of Dragons.” On the remote island of Masquapaug, dragons have been a distant memory for generations until fifteen-year-old Anequs discovers a dragon’s egg and forms a profound bond with its hatchling. Her people celebrate her as Nampeshiweisit, someone uniquely connected to a dragon, reliving the tales of when dragons danced away the storms, ushering prosperity.
Yet, the Anglish conquerors have different plans for Anequs and her dragon. They insist on a strict upbringing, and Anequs doesn’t meet their criteria. Reluctantly, they allow her to attend an Anglish dragon school, where she faces numerous challenges, both socially and academically. Anequs, however, is unwavering in her determination to help her dragon, even if it means teaching herself. She refuses to become the meek Anglish girl everyone expects. Anequs and her dragon are not just coming of age but coming into power, realizing that the world needs change, and they may be the ones to bring it. This compelling dark academia tale weaves together courage, self-discovery, and the promise of transformation.
Boys in the Valley by Philip Fracassi
In Memoriam by Alice Winn
Step back in time to 1914, a period marked by the relentless churn of World War I and the tumultuous lives of young men thrust into its violence. Amidst the chaos, the boarding school in the serene English countryside seems a world away for Henry Gaunt and Sidney Ellwood. The front lines may feel distant, but the heroic tales of fallen friends make the war’s allure irresistible.
For Gaunt, the battle he fights is not on the battlefield but within himself—a profound infatuation with his best friend, the charismatic Ellwood, who secretly longs for Gaunt. When Gaunt’s family pressures him to enlist and shed their German heritage in the face of growing anti-German sentiment, he readily obliges, hoping to escape his overwhelming emotions for Ellwood. However, to Gaunt’s dismay, Ellwood follows him to the front, and soon their fellow classmates join the ranks. Now, amidst the stark reality of death’s proximity, they face an uncertain future with no guarantees.
“In Memoriam” is an epic narrative that weaves together the devastating tragedies of war and a forbidden romance that flourishes within its grip. This remarkable debut invites you to explore a world where passion and peril collide in the midst of a tumultuous era.
A Shot in the Dark by Victoria Lee
The Will of the Many by James Islington
Pet by Catherine Chidgey
Prepare yourself for a riveting psychological thriller from the talented author of Remote Sympathy, Catherine Chidgey, who has previously been longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction and shortlisted for the Dublin Literary Award.
In the world of twelve-year-old Justine, like her peers, the enigmatic new teacher exudes charm and allure, making her the object of fascination. Justine yearns to earn her favor. However, as a thief plagues the school, a growing unease festers within Justine, an unmistakable feeling that something is amiss. With each twist in the tale, this suspenseful narrative delves deeper into a web of deceit and the destructive force of guilt. In the face of mounting complexities, Justine grapples with defining her loyalties.
Set against the backdrop of 1980s New Zealand, this narrative probes the themes of racism, misogyny, and the stifling grip of Catholicism. Pet takes its rightful place alongside classic portrayals of childhood betrayal and psychological suspense, evoking echoes of works like Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures, Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock, and Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping.
The Black Queen by Jumata Emill
Prepare for a gripping thriller where secrets unravel and alliances shift in a high school full of ambition and dark mysteries. Nova Albright was destined to become Lovett High’s first Black homecoming queen, but her life takes a sinister turn when she’s found murdered on coronation night, her body discovered in a chilling location – an old slave cemetery she had been restoring.
Tinsley McArthur, beautiful, wealthy, and heir to a legacy of homecoming queens, was meant to wear the crown. Her family’s tradition was unshakable, with her grandmother, mother, and sister preceding her. Duchess Simmons, Nova’s best friend and the daughter of Lovett’s first Black police captain, sees Nova’s victory as a triumph for all Black students.
However, Nova’s murder shatters their hopes, and Duchess becomes convinced that Tinsley is the perpetrator, driven by privilege. Yet, she’s equally certain that her father will protect Tinsley instead of seeking the truth. As tensions mount and suspicions grow, the tangled web of ambition, love, and treachery becomes a perilous place where alliances blur and secrets have deadly consequences. This dark academia thriller is bound to captivate fans of “One of Us Is Lying” and “The Other Black Girl.”
There you have it, our 11 Best Dark Academia Books of 2023. Looking for more book recommendations?
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