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Dark academia in books – Natalie Hon City of London Freemens

Dark academia is not an uncommon aesthetic in books and in real life, but what really is dark academia?


There are two prime examples of dark academia books: If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio and The Secret History by Donna Tartt. Dark academia is quite straightforward: a murder has to happen in an academic setting. Other than that, dark academia consists of an outsider joining a prestigious school, then the most secluded and secretive society; the murder victim died because of a fatal flaw; and the rest of the book is a complicated, carefully woven story of, rather than whodunnit, a why did the murder happen?


Dark academia is nowhere near hard to understand. While dark academia has these essential elements, it doesn’t mean that all medias and books with the dark academia aesthetic have to fulfil these requirements. While reading these books, readers are prompted to think about humanity, and since the murder victim usually dies because of their fatal flaw, the criticism towards society and how humans behave is evident through these books.


What I enjoy the most about reading dark academia books is that while it is easy to immerse into the world crafted by the authors, it also allows me to reflect upon how society works and how some people are driven into madness and the extremes, like how characters in dark academia books often are. 


Dark academia themed books would definitely not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I would highly recommend it to anyone that enjoys a bit of a murder mystery alongside a main dish of criticisms towards society.  


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