Monday 17 July 2023

Dark academia - libraries and cloisters by Tracy Darnton

I'm writing a dark academia thriller so I thought I'd share some of the images I've been collecting to help me, and my recent reads (adult/upper YA) in this area. For me, dark academia means dark goings on in an elite academic setting amongst an intense, close knit group. 

Mostly I use it as an excuse to hang out in musty old libraries and lurk in cloisters ...

So now you've got the vibe, here's some dark academia reading:

The Secret History By Donna Tartt is over thirty years old but still the one to read for murder in a group of classics students in New England.

The lovely folk at indie bookshop Max Minerva's in Bristol shipped their recommendations to me: The Cloisters (just finished, really enjoyed, useful review here) set in the rarefied world of a museum in New York and the rivalries of the academics researching Tarot cards, and The Maidens by Alex Michaelides set in Cambridge University - a secret society of elite students - so ticking the dark academia boxes. 

Currently reading another American one set in an elite conservatory amongst the Shakespearean drama students which was recommended by the YA bookseller at Waterstones Cambridge - and if any store should have the finger on the pulse of dark academia, it must be that one. 

Finally if you'd like some more on dark academia, listen to this Radio 4 Open Book episode with Katy Hays who wrote The Cloisters, RF Kuang who wrote Babel which is still on my TBR pile as it's huge (I have read and very much enjoyed RF Kuang's Yellowface set in the world of publishing) and Kate Weinberg who wrote The Truants which I'm reading on my very long train journey this week.  

Anyone got any other must-read recommendations? 

Tracy Darnton is the author of YA thrillers and picture books known for their twisty endings. She can often be found in a library, the older and mustier the better. You can follow Tracy on Twitter or Instagram @TracyDarnton

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