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The Secret History: Donna Tartt

“After all, the appeal to stop being yourself, even for a little while, is very great.”

If you love books and read about them on social media, then it is very likely that you have come upon the term dark academia somewhere or the other. As per Wikipedia, below is the definition of this term:

Dark academia is a social media aesthetic and subculture centered around higher education, writing/poetry, the arts, and classic Greek and Gothic architecture. The subculture is associated with ancient art and classic literature.

Doesn’t it appeal to you immediately? Many people try to build a lifestyle around this aesthetic. Even though I don’t exactly know what it really means to have such a lifestyle, truly speaking it appeals to me.

The Secret History comes as a top recommendation for any dark academia book recommendation. And hence I was really intrigued to read this book. Little did I know that the theme of dark academia is really ‘dark’.

Plot Overview

This is a story about a group of eccentric students learning Ancient Greek under a charming professor at the University of New Hampden, who discovers a new way of thinking and living. But soon they miss the line of morality and slip into a life full of evil and treachery.

My Thoughts

When the prologue of a book starts with a murder confession you know how this book is going to turn around. This book is divided into two parts. The first one tells us the series of events that lead to this unfortunate incident and the second one follows what happened afterward.

Even though it was disturbing I still loved the first part of the book. The whole mystery around Julian, who is the professor and his unique way of teaching, the closeness among his students, the entry of a new person, and the palpable excitement of the uncovering of a secret that everyone is trying to hide always kept me on edge.

However, the book became flat in the second half when the mystery was revealed. I don’t know whether there is some hidden symbolism that I failed to understand or it is just an attempt to fill up the pages. The second half of the book is filled with scenes, conversations, characters, and scandals that seem totally unnecessary to me.

What disturbed me most in this book is the cool tone in which the crime was described. A group of young people is involved in murder and there wasn’t a tinge of guilt or remorse among them. I mean what kind of pathological and socially disturbing message are we trying to give from this book. And is this the dark academia lifestyle we are promoting which the kids these days wear like a fashion statement?


I don’t know this book will suit which audience but I know for sure that it is not for younger ones. And even for the mature audience, I would recommend reading with an open mind and not just going with the fanfare

Published inBooksFiction


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