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Dark Academia Vibes

Must Read Books for Autumn 2023

By Kelly Mcrae

Image Sarolta Balog-Major on Pixabay

Bloom by Delilah S. Dawson - Titan Books - Published 03 October 2023

Horror | LGBTQIA+ representation | Romance

After moving away from New York to escape the memories of a relationship that ended unexpectedly, Ro has settled into the rhythms of her new life as an associate professor. She has her work, her books, and her cat—she believes she has it all. That is until she meets Ash.

Ro quickly falls in love with Ash, thinking she is perfect in every way.

But Bloom is not a love story, and it soon becomes horrific in ways you won’t expect. A tale of pride, anger, and appetites, Bloom is the perfect book for readers who want a horror novel that will sit with them for a long time after the final page.

A Study in Drowning by Ava Reid - Cornerstone - Published 19 September 2023

Fantasy | Gothic | Mystery

Architecture student Effy Sayre’s most prized possession is her copy of Angharad, a fantasy epic about a mortal girl who falls in love with the Fairy King. When an opportunity arises to design the late author’s house, Effy leaps at the opportunity.

However, the house is crumbling, and Effy isn’t alone in the decaying property—Preston Héloury, a student of literature, has also taken up residence there. Whilst Effy is there working on her designs, Preston fills his time by combing through the papers of the late author, determined to prove him a fraud.

As they learn more about the house and its owner, Effy and Preston stumble onto a secret bigger than what they could ever imagine.

Image: Xandra Button

Babel by R.F. Kuang - Harper Collins - Paperback edition published 28 September 2023

Book of the Year (Fiction) | Historical | Fantasy

A standalone historical fantasy novel from the author of The Poppy War, Babel tells the story of Robin Swift who is studying at Oxford University’s prestigious Royal Institute of Translation. Here he learns the arts of translation and magic but soon realizes that the Institute of Translation serves to expand the empire rather than to pursue knowledge.

As Robin learns more about the Institute and its secrets, he begins to wonder if change is ever possible without the violence of a revolution. Now available in paperback, Babel is worth the hype, and was the winner of the Nebula Award for Best Novel and was also Blackwell’s Book of the Year for Fiction.

The Witches of Vardø by Anya Bergman - Bonnier Books 28 September 2023

Debut | Historical | Fantasy

The 1600s proved a dangerous time to be a woman, as even the smallest indiscretion or deviation from the norm could get you accused of witchcraft.

Zigri is grieving and finds some solace in an affair with a local merchant. For this indiscretion, she is sent to the fortress at Vardø to await her trial for witchcraft. The Witches of Vardø follows the journey of Zigri’s daughter as she braves the Norwegian wilderness in the hope of bringing her mother home.

Fiction steeped in fact, The Witches of Vardø is inspired by the 1662 and 1663 witch hunts on the island of Vardø and is an inspiring and heartbreaking tale of familial love, injustice, and what it means to have power.

Image: Xandra Button

The Spirit Bares its Teeth by Andrew Joseph White - Peachtree - 05 September 2023

Horror | LGBTQIA+ representation | Historical

In the late 19th century, the veil between the living and the dead has thinned and violet-eyed mediums are able to communicate with the spirits of the dead. Silas is one of these mediums, under the strict governance of the Royal Speaker Society. Silas himself exists across two worlds, the boy he is and the girl his mother sees him as. Sent to Braxton’s Sanitorium and Finishing School, it isn’t long before the ghosts of its former inhabitants begin reaching out to him.

A gory read, The Spirit Bares its Teeth is not for the faint-hearted. But behind the blood and guts is a moving story with a beating heart that will stay with you long after you’ve closed the book.

The Professor by Lauren Nossett - Flatiron - 14 November 2023

Thriller | Crime | Mystery

Ethan Haddock has been discovered dead, seemingly by his own hand. The suspected suicide quickly gathers media attention, sparking discussion on the epidemic of depression and poor mental health among students. Only, perhaps it wasn’t a suicide?

Ethan’s professor, Dr Sobek, is being questioned and rumours are circulating that Ethan’s death was the result of a soured romance. It’s up to a retired detective-turned-research-assistant to uncover the truth of the case.

The second in the Marlitt Kaplan series, The Professor is a thrilling read exploring the dangers of social media and the trolls that lurk within it, the power dynamics within academia, and how institutions often fail their most vulnerable members.


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