10 Incredible Dark Academia Fantasy Books | TheReviewGeek Recommends

Academia and fantasy are two genres that seamlessly blend together to create immersive narratives filled with magic, mystery and adventure. Dark academia is often highly regarded as a sub-genre that is considered popular for its exploration of the darker sides of educational institutions, often blurring the lines between good and evil.

The inclusion of fantasy adds that added layer of magic, mystical creatures and the supernatural to explore societal themes within the academic setting. So, if you’re looking for dark academic fantasy reads, here’s a list of dark academia fantasy books that are perfect for anyone looking to escape reality.


Crave Series by Tracy Wolff

Crave by Tracy Wolff is a captivating story that takes readers on a wild adventure filled with danger, romance and magic. When Grace moves to a new boarding school for mythical creatures, she finds herself drawn to a handsome and mysterious vampire named Jaxon. As Grace and Jaxon’s relationship deepens, she uncovers dark secrets about the school and the creatures who inhabit it. With danger lurking around every corner, Grace must navigate a treacherous world of magic and politics to uncover the truth and protect the ones she loves. Crave is a thrilling story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats from beginning to end.


The Awakening (Zodiac Academy) by Caroline Peckham

In The Awakening by Caroline Peckham, Ava’s life takes a dramatic turn when she discovers she has extraordinary powers. Forced to attend a secret academy, she must learn to control her abilities while navigating a dangerous conspiracy. As Ava uncovers dark secrets and faces unexpected enemies, she must rely on her newfound friends and her growing strength to survive. The story unfolds with captivating intensity, blending magic, mystery and romance. The Awakening is a thrilling journey of self-discovery and resilience as Ava embraces her destiny and battles against the forces that threaten her world.


Bunny by Mona Awad

Bunny is a dark and surreal novel that centres around Samantha Heather Mackey, a scholarship student enrolled in a highly exclusive MFA program at Warren University. Samantha is somewhat of an outsider who finds herself repulsed by a group of fellow students, referred to as the “bunnies,” who share a close-knit and unsettling bond. The Bunnies are a clique of rich and overly cutesy girls who behave as a synchronized unit and refer to each other as “Bunny.” Samantha soon finds herself in the middle of the Bunnies and her curiosity gets the better of her leading her to abandon her only friend and become deeply immersed in the eerie world of the Bunnies. Bunny is considered a good dark academic fantasy novel due to its explorations of loneliness, and belonging within the intense academic environment.


Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead follows the story of Rose and Lissa, two best friends with a unique bond. They attend St. Vladimir’s Academy, a school for vampires and their guardians. Rose, a dhampir – half vampire, half human – is tasked with protecting Lissa, a royal vampire princess. But danger lurks within the academy as dark forces threaten their lives. As Rose battles her forbidden attraction to her guardian trainer Dimitri, she must also navigate the complexities of vampire society and uncover the truth about Lissa’s powers. This enthralling tale of friendship, romance, and supernatural intrigue keeps readers hooked from start to finish.


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Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo plunges readers into the dark and mysterious world of secret societies and magic. Galaxy “Alex” Stern, a survivor of a traumatic past, is offered a full scholarship to Yale University to join Lethe House, a secret society tasked with monitoring the occult activities of the other societies on campus. As Alex delves deeper into the dangerous and secret underworld, she must uncover the truth behind a murder that has connections to both the supernatural and the elite. With her unique ability to see ghosts, Alex becomes entangled in a web of lies, power struggles, and age-old secrets that threaten her very existence. This gripping tale combines elements of mystery, fantasy, and the sinister, leaving readers spellbound until the very end.


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Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Vicious is a gripping darkly compelling novel that explores the complexities of power, friendship and revenge in a world where superpowers don’t necessarily make you a hero. The story follows Victor and Eli, two villains and ambitious college roommates who become caught up in a dangerous experiment involving adrenaline, and near-death experiences.  

As the research moves from theory to practice, the consequences become dire. Years later, Victor escapes from prison with a thirst for revenge against his former friend, Eli, who has taken on a mission to eliminate others with superpowers. Swishing between the past and present, events slowly unravel that lead up to their fractured friendship and their transformation into archnemeses.  


The Atlas Six (The Atlas) by Olivie Blake

The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake unravels an intricate tale filled with mystery and magic. Against the backdrop of an exclusive academy, six students possess extraordinary powers connected to the elements. When a dangerous artifact is stolen, they are thrust into a treacherous journey to recover it before it falls into the wrong hands. Each character carries secrets and ulterior motives, leading to unexpected alliances and betrayals. As they confront personal demons and delve into a world of ancient prophecies, a race against time ensues. The Atlas Six combines suspense, supernatural abilities, and complex relationships, keeping readers engaged with its riveting plot of power, secrets, and destined fates.


Babel by R.F. Kuang

Babel is an engaging dark academic fantasy novel set in the 19th century. The story follows Robin Swift, an orphan from Canton who is brought to London by the mysterious Professor Lovell. The Professor spends years training Robin in various languages to send the youngster to Oxford University’s Royal Institute of Translation, known as Babel. Babel is not only renowned for its translation studies but also for its connection to magic.

The British have used Babel as a way to harness the power of silver-working a form of enchanting used to manifest the hidden meanings lost in translation. As Robin immerses himself in the world of Babel, he finds himself torn before the amazing world of Babel and his pursuit of knowledge and the growing realization of what Babel means for the rest of the world. Babel delves into the complexities of identity, cultural clashes and the ethical implications of power dynamics within an empire.


Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

In Legendborn by Tracy Deonn, we are immersed in a modern-day world where Arthurian legend intertwines with contemporary reality. When Bree, a young black girl grieving her mother’s death, enrols in an early college program, she stumbles upon a hidden society of magicians called the Legendborn. As Bree investigates her mother’s mysterious death, she uncovers secrets that tie her own heritage to the legendary knights of King Arthur’s roundtable.

With the help of her new allies, including the enigmatic and captivating Merlin, Bree dives into a dangerous world filled with ancient magic, sinister forces, and a battle for power. Legendborn expertly blends fantastical elements with themes of identity, loss, and the strength of bonds formed in the face of adversity.


The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater takes readers on a captivating journey where magic and mystery collide with intricate storytelling. It follows a group of friends, led by Blue Sargent, as they embark on a quest to find the mystical sleeping Welsh king, Glendower. Along the way, they encounter supernatural creatures, navigate ley lines, and battle against formidable forces. As the group delves deeper, they uncover personal secrets and face dangerous challenges that put their lives at risk. The Raven Cycle weaves together elements of friendship, romance, and the supernatural in a gripping narrative that keeps readers hooked until the very end.


Overall, dark academia and fantasy make for the perfect pairing in these books. Whether you’re looking for romance, intrigue, danger or just some good old-fashioned magic, these stories have it all. Have you read any of these books? What’s your favourite Dark Academia fantasy book? Comment below and let us know. 


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