According to our good ol’ trusty friend Wikipedia, Dark Academia is a “social media aesthetic and subculture centred around higher education, writing/poetry, the arts, and classic Greek and Gothic architecture. The subculture is associated with ancient art and classic literature“. To put it plainly – imagine an elite school setting rife with murders and suicides. While that might seem like it’s not your cup of tea, I’d say, don’t knock it till you try it!
Today, FUCHSIA magazine is bringing you our top three recommendations for the Dark Academia genre that’ll keep you occupied during these cold, desolate months.
1) They Never Learn By Layne Fargo (2020)
There’s a killer loose on the grounds of Gorman University. Unbeknownst to the faculty and student body, it’s their English professor – Scarlett Clark. Teetering between being a vigilante and a sociopath, Scarlett is out to avenge the women who have been wronged. Every year she chooses the worst man at Gorman university and schemes their execution. She’s intelligent and like a ghost, leaves no trace behind. However, soon the body count on campus becomes hard to ignore and the admin sets up a committee to look into the “suicides”.
Intertwined with Scarlett’s story, we see glimpses of Carly Schiller. She’s a freshman at Gorman and trying to navigate her new reality. However, when Carly witnesses her roommate being sexually assaulted at a party she is determined to make the attacker pay.
With a complex web woven around treachery, love and loyalty – there’s never a dull moment while reading ‘They never learn’. Moreover, it’s hard, not to root for the main characters in this exhilarating and fast-paced Dark Academia book. Especially when they usurp the power of those who made their victims feel helpless and afraid. However, it is the ending that will make you do a doubletake and have you gasping out loud! If you liked watching ‘How To Get Away With Murder’, this book is for you!
2) Bunny By Mona Awad (2019)
There is no right way to describe this book. ‘Bunny’ is the quintessential fever dream mixed with a dash of magical realism – but in the best way possible! Think ‘Scream Queens’ and ‘Heathers’ but with more gore.
Samantha Mackey is a scholarship student at Warren University’s MFA program and she feels like a complete outsider. Usually snubbed by the rest of her fiction writing cohort, she’s surprised when they extend an invitation to her to join their ‘Smut Salon’. The Bunnies are basically a clique (akin to a cult) and operate symbiotically. They call each other “Bunny” and dress froofy-chic, specific to the genres that they write.
The ‘Smut Salon’ is the Bunnies’ version of a writing workshop but with ritualistic animal sacrifice thrown in to help them hone their writing skills and manifest the perfect male lead for their stories. However, as the edges of reality begin to blur, we are thrown down the rabbit hole of uncertainty and intrigue. In other words, the perfect Dark Academia book to read at night!
3) My Dark Vanessa By Kate Elizabeth Russell (2020)
‘My Dark Vanessa’ needs to come with a trigger warning for statutory rape and sexual assault. However, that said, this book makes for a good read because of its intimate prose, descriptive narrative and the way it presents the numerous dilemmas faced by survivors of abuse.
It is the 2000s and Vanessa Wye is a 15-year-old student at Browick School where she meets her English teacher, Jacob Strane who is 42. Soon she finds herself in a “relationship” with him and is beguiled by his charismatic personality. Years go by and the two stay in touch. However, in 2017 amid the #MeToo movement, Strane is accused of sexual abuse by a former student who reaches out to Vanessa. Thus begins Vanessa’s journey of realising that her “first love” wasn’t as innocent as she’d believed it to be.
With a narrative juxtaposed between the past and the present, ‘My Dark Vanessa’ addresses the themes of consent, agency and victimhood. Moreover, it ticks all the boxes for being a Dark Academia book. It does a brilliant job of highlighting Vanessa’s struggles and internal conflict. With a point of view that keeps shifting, you’ll feel trapped in her claustrophobic story. However, as the story unfolds you’ll be rooting for Vanessa, wondering if she’ll get her retribution.
What are you going to read this Fall? Let us know in the comments, we’re always looking for more book recommendations! Happy reading!