The Best Dark Academia Books of All Time

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The Best Dark Academia Books of All Time

Dark academia has risen from the depths of the internet to become a full-fledged genre, with fans curating a list of books, movies, and music that are perfect for a late-night session in the library or an offbeat adventure. It’s a genre focused on the darker side of academia – University life that includes moody isolated settings, libraries, and deep psychological themes.

It’s a look at University life done right, and fiction populated with some of the most literary figures imaginable. As with all genres, some examples are better than others; we count down the best dark academia books around. Here are some titles that will make your inner scholar proud.

  1. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Beginning our list is Rebecca, a 1938 novel written by Daphne du Maurier. This supernatural thriller is often cited as a Gothic classic and one of the best dark academia books of all time. It takes place on a dark and isolated estate, full of intrigue and deceiving staff, as a young unnamed woman (the protagonist) struggles to find her place in her new home.

  1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

In second place is Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, a grim novel published in 1847. It’s a classic Victorian novel, populated with a devilish cast of characters. It tells the story of a turbulent romance between doomed lovers, held back by the bounds of family and society. It’s a deep and powerful read that certainly has earned its place in the dark academia hall of fame.

  1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Tied with Emily Bronte is her older sister Charlotte and her book Jane Eyre. This 1847 novel tells the story of an orphaned governess and her gradual journey up the social ladder in a regal gothic castle. It’s a timeless classic and an amazing read, packed with an intriguing set of characters and dark themes.

  1. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

In fourth comes Mary Shelley’s masterpiece, Frankenstein. This is a novel from 1818, which brought the gothic horror genre to life. It tells the story of a scientific experiment gone wrong, as a mad scientist tries to create a living being from the dead. It’s a great work of literature that subverts the traditional understanding of science and gives new life to gothic horror.

  1. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

In fifth spot is Great Expectations, a novel written by Charles Dickens. This 1860 novel tells the story of a poor orphan, named Pip, and his life’s journey as he rises to a place of wealth and power. It has some of the darkest moments of any Dickens novel and deals with themes of poverty and expectations.

  1. Dracula by Bram Stoker

Next up is Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel, Dracula. It’s arguably the best vampire story ever written and one of the most iconic dark academia books of all time. It tells of a group of heroic characters that take on the vampire and his gothic castle. It’s a novel filled with mystique and horror, perfect for those deep night sessions in the library.

  1. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

A classic read comes in seventh, with Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. The novel was published posthumously in 1817, but was written several decades earlier. It tells the story of a young woman and her stay at an old gothic castle, filled with suspense and romance.

  1. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is the eighth best dark academia book of all time. This novel was released in 1870 and follows a group of characters as they take a journey deep into the ocean. During their voyage, they battle a giant sea creature and explore the depths of the earth. It’s a fantastic work of literature and a must-read for all dark academia fans.

  1. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray is a novel by Oscar Wilde, which was published in 1890. It tells the story of Dorian Gray, a beautiful young man that sells his soul to stay eternally young and beautiful. As time passes, his portrait grows older as his desire for eternal youth continues to entrap him in a world of immorality and suspense.

  1. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Rounding off our list is the 1962 novel We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. It’s a dark and eerie story that tells the tale of two sisters living in a house in rural America. One of the sisters is accused of murder and the novel follows their journey of survival as they deal with isolation and persecution.

Dark academia might just be the perfect genre for University life, as it brings together suspense and literary references. Our list of 10 dark academia books surely presents some of the best examples of this genre. Certainly, this list will provide endless possibilities of exploration for the aspiring dark academia reader.

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