This post contains affiliate links. Book Riot can earn a commission when you buy through these links.
If you love books that are set in schools and stories with curvy plots and dark themes, then the dark science subgenre is probably for you! This genre can be defined broadly, but in general the books have an academic setting and include characters exploring darker drives, navigating crime or dark secrets, or exploring dark speculative elements. Here you can learn more about the dark science and the appeal of this type of book. If that sounds like your jam, we have 15 excellent dark academy books for you to read during the marathon!
Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas
Ines is offered a place at Catherine House, an exclusive private university where tuition, room and board are paid for. In exchange, however, the students have to cut off contact with the outside world. Ines runs away from her past and thinks Catherine House is the perfect escape, but when tragedy strikes she has to grapple with what it really means to belong to Catherine House.
Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey
Ivy Gamble is a PI who has just been hired to investigate a mysterious death at a school of magic. She is excited about her first high profile job, but it is made more difficult by the fact that her twin sister Tabitha is a teacher at this school. The sister has become estranged thanks to Ivy’s resentment that Tabitha was gifted with magic while Ivy wasn’t. Ivy hopes this case is a chance for her to reconnect – but the deeper she delves into the case, the less likely it seems.
Ninth house of Leigh Bardugo
Alex Stern is the sole survivor of a bizarre crime that is beyond explanation. When she wakes up in the hospital, the dean of Yale University offers her a full ride to oversee the occult activities of the campus. Alex agrees, but when her mentor disappears and a murder rattles campus, she begins to think she is above her head.
The Emperor of Ocean Park by Stephen L. Carter
Set against an Ivy League law school, this novel is about Talcott Garland, a law professor whose father is found dead. As a shamed judge and Supreme Court candidate, there are many people who want their father dead. Talcott begins the investigation after a series of puzzling clues his father left behind.
Sara Faring’s tenth girl
Mavi flees political persecution in Buenos Aires and secures a job as a teacher at the Vaccaro School at the top of South America in Patagonia. Legend has it that the land on which the school was built is cursed and strange events plague Mavi as soon as she arrives. And when one of her students goes missing, Mavi has to face the dark forces of the Vaccaro School.
Confessions of Kanae Minato
Yuko Moriguchi is a middle school teacher and single mother with a 4 year old daughter. One day her daughter is killed and Yuko is devastated … but she holds her time and at the end of the school year she announces her retirement and gives her students one final lecture that reveals a vengeance that will shock the school.
Wilder Girls by Rory Power
Hetty lived in the Raxter School for Girls with a strange pandemic in the world. Cut off from the rest of the world, Hetty and her classmates live at their school for 18 months, watching their teachers die one by one before the students get sick. The girls have to survive as best they can within the walls of their school, but when Hetty’s friend goes missing, she goes in search of her – and discovers the truth.
Vita Nostra by Sergey and Marina Dyachenko
Sasha has just been selected to attend the Specialty Technologies Institute, a powerful and challenging school in a tiny village where students are expected to meet impossible expectations. If they come up short, their families suffer from the outside. As cruel as this training may be, Sasha is in a transformation that pushes the boundaries of what she believes is possible.
Special topics in disaster physics by Marisha Pessl
Blue van Meer is a clever student who finds herself alone and with no friends at St. Gallway School. It doesn’t take long before she falls into a crowd called Bluebloods, curated by Hannah, a teacher at her school. But when Hannah’s death shakes the school and the bluebloods, Blue weaves an intricate web of mystery that the reader must wade through to understand what really happened.
Trust exercise by Susan Choi
This National Book Award-winning novel is about David and Sarah, two teenagers who fell in love with their high school in the 1980s. Both are embroiled in the drama, and their relationship is mixed in by their fellow students and their charismatic acting teacher into this novel where nothing is what it seems.
The Secret Story of Donna Tartt
One of the most iconic books in the dark academic genre, this book is about a group of misfits at a New England college who fall under the spell of their classics professor and question their morals. But when someone is killed, everyone must answer for the crime in one way or another.
We wish you the best of luck from Caroline Zancan
Hannah, Leslie, and Jimmy are three of the most popular PhD students in their MFA program, and everyone wants to get close to them. But when a young visiting professor and bestselling author sabotages one of them, they slip into a thrilling vengeance that will make them known.
Bunny by Mona Awad
Samantha is an underdog in her MFA program, a far cry from the trendy, popular girls who call each other bunny. But when she receives an invitation to one of her infamous salons, she visits … and finds herself in her strange, ritual “workshops” that take place off campus and that could prove fatal.
Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth
This new novel follows Flo and Clara at Brookhants School for Girls in 1902, where their obsession with a writer and infamous biography lead to their own tragic death. More than a century later, a new book on the Brookshants School brings its story back to the public, but when three modern heroines arrive at the former school’s site, the past and present collide.
David Hopen’s Orchard
Ari is used to a strict and sheltered upbringing in his ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, but when his family moves to Miami and he is enrolled in a Jewish academy, Ari discovers a new world. He falls into a group of eccentric and sometimes ruthless students, and under the guidance of a charismatic rabbi, they begin to reinterpret the rules of their religion and their own morals, with life-changing consequences.
We also encourage you to check out some of our best literary book club suggestions.
Book Deals Newsletter
Sign up for our Offers & Booking Newsletter and get up to 80% discount on books you actually want to read.
Thanks for registering! Keep an eye on your inbox.
For more recommendations on the best Dark Academy books or other new subgenres, check out TBR: Tailored Book Recommendations! TBR is a personalized book recommendation service that sends you books that you love to read. Here’s how it works: Just complete the reader survey and let us know what you’d like more of – dark academic books, for example – and what you’re not keen on. Then an experienced bibliology player will read your answers and recommend three books just for you. Receive your letter of recommendation by email in around two weeks or receive your recommendations in brand new hardcover from our partner Print: A Bookstore in Portland, Maine, in around three to four weeks. Find out more and register now!