Book Reviews Books

The Secret History by Donna Tartt: The OG Dark Academia Book

Wow, what a read. Having read The Goldfinch (and not really enjoying it too much). I definitely went into this book expecting to read a quite boring and pseudo-intellectual snobbish book. I did not expect to be glued to the pages of this book. It’s genuinely one of the most engaging, layered and exciting books I’ve ever read.

The book is told entirely from our main character’s point of view, Richard Papen, a junior year transfer student to the elite New England liberal arts college Hampden (totally not inspired by Bennington College in Vermont). Richard is a regular middle-class teenager from the suburbs of Southern California looking to trade his mediocre life back home for a seemingly more glamorous one amongst like-minded intellectuals. Look, as someone who went to college in New England I don’t blame the poor guy.. The New England fall foliage really is something else. Richard tries hard to fit into an exclusive program headed by an elusive classics professor who only takes five students a year. The entirety of the students’s academic program is designed by the professor.

Richard lies his way into fitting in to the group, making up a more glamorous background for himself to fit into the group of prominent students, who are:

  • Edmund “Bunny” Corcoran: the least intelligent of the group, he and his family are no longer wealthy but try hard to keep up appearances.
  • Charles and Camilla Macaulay: the attractive blonde twins. Camilla is the only girl in the group. She attracts some love interest from various males in the group, which is the source of some drama throughout the book.
  • Francis Abernathy: probably the kindest of the group, a redhead whose single mother comes from a prominent Bostonian family.
  • Henry Winter: a genius, definitely the most intelligent of the group. He is also the only child to very wealthy parents.

I love how when a novel defies my expectations, where the characters don’t act according to how we think they would, and how the plot gets slowly unveiled.. WHAT A PAGE TURNER. It’s been so long since I read 100 pages in a single sitting. I can’t say too much without revealing the plot, but all I can say is that a murder mystery makes up a large portion of this book.

I highly highly recommend this!