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Shadows and Scholarship: Young Adult Dark Academia Takes a Bold Turn

Curated by Lucy, Literary Connoisseur at The Gilded Page | Young Adult Fiction | Dark Academia | Diverse Authors


Turning the Page on Tradition: Four YA Novels Redefining Dark Academia


victorian library, cosy, lit fireplace, purple blue green with gold accents, snow falling outside window

As the blizzard blankets Kansas City in a wintry embrace, I find solace in the warm glow of a candle and the allure of a gripping dark academia novel. This beloved sub-genre, known for its fusion of aesthetic, academic thrills, and deeper themes, is undergoing a transformative renaissance—emerging more diverse, vibrant, and inclusive than ever before.


Here at The Gilded Page, we celebrate this evolution, showcasing tales where the pursuit of knowledge meets the complexities of power, identity, and survival, all set against the hallowed halls of learning.


These four young adult novels by authors of color are not just stories—they are revolutions bound in print, challenging the narrative and inviting readers of all backgrounds to see themselves within the ivy-covered walls of dark academia.



4 Great Dark Academia YA Novels

As the skies turn grey and the snow whispers against the windowpanes, it is the perfect time to explore the shadowed corners of young adult fiction where authors of color are casting new light on the dark academia genre. Their voices bring fresh perspectives to tales of mystery and intellect, weaving narratives that resonate with a wide array of experiences and identities.


 

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé


Ac of Spades book cover

In the hallowed halls of Niveus Private Academy, two students stand alone against a backdrop of privilege and hidden prejudice. 'Ace of Spades' is a heart-pounding journey through the eyes of Chiamaka and Devon, as they unravel the sinister threads of institutionalized racism while fighting to keep their darkest secrets from being unearthed.





 

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn


Legendborn book cover

Blending Arthurian legend with the vibrant pulse of a modern campus, 'Legendborn' offers a spellbinding mix of fantasy and dark academia. Bree Matthews' quest for knowledge at UNC–Chapel Hill takes a mystical detour as she discovers ancient societies and her own untapped powers, setting the stage for an epic saga that defies the boundaries of reality and tradition.








 

The New Girl by Jesse Q. Sutanto


The New Girl book cover

Mystery seeps through the veins of Draycott Academy, and for Lia Setiawan, the scholarship student who hoped for a new beginning, danger lurks in every shadow. 'The New Girl' crafts a tale of suspense and intrigue where every character harbors secrets that could be lethal, entangling Lia in a web that threatens to consume her.








 

If You Could See the Sun by Ann Liang


If You Could See The Sun book cover

Invisibility takes on a literal meaning for Alice Sun in this enthralling blend of fantasy and dark academia set in Beijing. 'If You Could See the Sun' explores the lengths to which one would go to remain seen and heard, even when it means trafficking in the clandestine currencies of secrets and lies. As Alice navigates the treacherous waters of her elite school, she learns that some secrets cast long, dangerous shadows.









 

Each of these novels is a testament to the power of representation and the endless possibilities that emerge when diverse voices are heard. They offer a tapestry of experiences that enrich the dark academia genre, making it more accessible and relatable to a global readership.


As the world outside turns into a winter wonderland, let these stories transport you to the darkly romantic, intellectually charged atmospheres of schools and societies filled with secrets and mysteries. Join us at The Gilded Page as we continue to explore and celebrate the ever-expanding universe of young adult literature. Stay cozy and keep reading—the next great adventure is just a page turn away.

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