By Tyler Davis
The weather is getting colder, the boots and coats are coming out of storage, and it’s getting dark at 5pm. If you’re still looking for a way to transition from your summer romance novels, here are my recommendations of the best books for your dark academia winter.
If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
The novel follows Oliver Marks, who has just been released from jail for a murder he may or may not have committed. As one of seven actors studying Shakespeare at an elite arts college, Oliver and his friends find themselves playing the same roles off-stage as they do on-stage and as tensions continue to rise, one of them is found dead. Now they must convince themselves and the police that they are blameless. Nothing gives more dark academia than a Shakespeare-inspired murder mystery set in rural Illinois. Perfect for a late-night, frantic finish that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
If you couldn’t tell, we’re on a real murder mystery kick this winter. Follow Aiden Bishop as he attempts to solve the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle in eight days, while waking up in the body of a different guest every day. It’s the perfect novel to devour entirely in one day, and you’ll be talking about all the different twists and turns for weeks on end.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Sue if you must, but I find that there’s no better time to read a classic novel than winter, especially Oscar Wilde. Dorian Gray, local golden boy, has his life upended by his own portrait. He trades his soul for unending youth, while the portrait becomes stained with evidence of his evil. I find that the shock and horror in this book is less about the ending and more about the journey it takes to get there. Gray forces the reader to grapple with their own sense of self-importance, and what it means when the importance overshadows the self.
Dante’s Inferno by Dante Alighieri
Yet another classic novel. This one is partially because I read it during winter, and the association has stuck. And really, what’s more dark academia winter than a stylized journey through the circles of hell? Dante Alighieri has been forced to take the journey through hell, a last ditch effort to convince himself to change his less-than-Godly lifestyle before he truly ends up in hell forever. In my opinion, this novel is best slowly digested over the course of winter.
A Certain Hunger by Chelsea G. Summers
This book is for avid supporters of women’s rights and more importantly, women’s wrongs. Food critic Dorothy Daniels makes a disturbing connection between her love of increasingly complex meals and her love of non-committal sex that, in my opinion, solidifies her as worthy of eternal fame. It’s up to interpretation whether that fame be positive or negative, but is there really a difference?