Every institution has its secrets, but do you know what shadows and skeletons hide in your school's closets? If you've never thought about that question before, it's high time you read a few
novels about secret societies on campus to get your mind — and heart — racing. I've got 10 picked out for you on the list below, so you can start reading today.
Secret societies have been around for a lot of human history. Most people know about Yale's
Skull and Bones society, but have you heard about Emory University's Paladin Society, or Cornell's Quill and Dagger? These groups, like the hero cults that came before them, inspire lots of conspiracy theories about what, exactly, they do behind closed doors.
Every reader knows that a nice conspiracy is all it takes to make a good mystery novel into a great one. For readers who don't really care for mysteries and thrillers in general, an occult-adjacent conspiracy can make a novel into the ~perfect~ read for a fan of all things gothic and supernatural. The 10 books on the list below blend drama, intrigue, and the supernatural in varying combinations, so there's a little something for everyone to be found here.
'Bunny' by Mona Awad
After she's accepted to a prestigious MFA program, Samantha finds herself on the fringes of the "Bunnies" — a group of rich fiction writers who call each other by the same epithet. But when the Bunnies invite Samantha to become one of them, and to participate in their "Smut Salon," she finds herself drawn into a circle she previously found distasteful.
Click here to buy. 'Hex Hall' by Rachel Hawkins
Shipped off to Hecate Hall after a disastrous prom night makes it impossible for her to stay at her school, teenage witch Sophie finds herself plunged deep into a mystery involving a secret society that wants to rid the world of witch-kind.
Click here to buy. 'The Book of Blood and Shadow' by Robin Wasserman
A young academic reeling from the loss of her murdered friend desperately clings to a trail left by her boyfriend, who disappeared that fateful night. Accompanying by the only witness to the crime, and pursued by the victim's cousin, Nora takes to Prague's streets in search of answers.
Click here to buy. 'The Conspiracy of Us' by Maggie Hall
A friendless military brat becomes the unexpected star of an international intrigue in
The Conspiracy of Us, the first novel in Maggie Hall's trilogy of the same name. When she's whisked off to Paris by two handsome suitors from her new school, the unassuming Avery finds that she might be the answer to an ancient prophecy — and no one has good intentions toward her. Click here to buy. 'The Oxford Inheritance' by Ann A. McDonald
While spending a year abroad at Oxford, Cassandra is surprised to find a link between her mother's mental illness and a secret, on-campus society. Unaware that her mother ever studied at Oxford, Cassandra follows her trail to Raleigh College, where she uncovers a gothic mystery involving black magic and murder.
Click here to buy. 'The Lost Coast' by Amy Rose Capetta
Finding a new place to live with her mother, Danny thought she picked Tempest, California at random. After she falls in with a group of queer witches called the Grays, however, Danny discovers that she has been brought to Tempest with a purpose — to recover the Grays' lost friend, Imogen, who disappeared into the foggy woods of the Lost Coast.
Click here to buy. 'The Year of the Gadfly' by Jennifer Miller
Life at the elite Mariana Academy gets dicey when a long-dormant society known as Prisom's Party is revived in secret, and begins a vigilant campaign against anyone who commits even the smallest infraction. Iris, an aspiring journalist who talks to the ghost of Edward R. Murrow, believes she can infiltrate the Party's newspaper, but will her own past complicate her mission to reveal the truth?
Click here to buy. 'A Discovery of Witches' by Deborah Harkness
Set in Oxford's Bodleian Library, Deborah Harkness'
A Discovery of Witches centers on Diana, a witch who forsakes magic to pursue her scholarly interests. When she finds a spell only she can break, she hides it again, and tries to ignore it. But an unexpected horde of witches, daemons, and vampires soon come crawling out of the woodwork in search of the spell — and Diana. Click here to buy. 'The Secret History' by Donna Tartt
Bunny Corcoran is dead. He has been murdered. But who did it and why remain to be seen in this retrospective novel about a group of students majoring in the classics at an elite, New England college.
Click here to buy. 'Ninth House' by Leigh Bardugo (Oct. 8)
Raised by a counter-culture hippie in L.A., and left miraculously alive after an unsolved murder case, no one expects high-school dropout Alex to go to Yale. A mysterious benefactor is willing to pay for her to do exactly that — provided she can monitor the activities of the university's eight secret societies.
Click here to buy.