In the dimly lit corridors of ancient libraries and secret societies where the scent of aged books mingles with the fragrance of forbidden desire, lies Dark Academia Romance. This subgenre weaves together the allure of academia, the fascination with mystery, and the intoxication of romance. If you're ready to immerse yourself in a world where gothic architecture and intellectualism intertwines with complex emotions, and deadly romances, then these Dark Academia Romance books need to be added to your TBR list.
If Dark Academia is your jam, check out these 12 Best Dark Academia Books to Read this Fall!
*listed in order by date of publication
LitJoy's Top Dark Academia Romance Books
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (1847)
Jane Eyre, a timeless classic by Charlotte Brontë, stands as one of the best dark academia romance books, weaving a tale of love amidst the shadows of an eerie setting. Set in a gothic mansion with an air of mystery, Jane's journey as a governess takes a turn when she encounters the brooding Mr. Rochester, master of Thornfield Hall. Their tumultuous romance unfolds with dark secrets and forbidden desires. Brontë's prose, Jane's strong-willed independence, and the hauntingly atmospheric backdrop make Jane Eyre a mesmerizing blend of academia and romance that has stood the test of time. LitJoy Classics special edition of Jane Eyre (pictured above) is a stunning edition for your dark academia romance collection!
Maurice by E.M. Forster (written 1913/14, published posthumously 1971)
Maurice by E.M. Forster earns its place among the best dark academia romance books with its profound exploration of forbidden love and intellectual awakening set against the backdrop of a repressive society. Forster's masterpiece follows the intense relationship between two men Maurice Hall and Clive Durham. The elegant prose and intricate character development create a hauntingly atmospheric tale.
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (2005)
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro is dark academia romance set in an idyllic boarding school called Hailsham. Ishiguro's novel follows the lives of three friends - Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy - as they grapple with growing up in this place and the loss of their innocence as a deeply emotional and forbidden love triangle unfolds. Ishiguro's mesmerizing prose and exploration of love, sacrifice, and the human condition create a haunting and unforgettable narrative.
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (2011)
Set in the world of academia, A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness follows Diana Bishop, a historian and witch, who stumbles upon an ancient manuscript that draws her into a journey of supernatural intrigue. Diana forms an unlikely alliance and forbidden romance with the mysterious vampire Matthew Clairmont who together are on a pursuit of knowledge to unravel the secrets of their "magical" heritage. Harkness' richly imagined world, intellectual depth, and sizzling chemistry between the protagonists make this a must-read dark academia romance.
The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell (2017)
The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell weaves a dark academia tale of mystery, fate, and a little time-traveling romance. In a world where magic is on the brink of extinction, Esta, a skilled time-traveling thief and Feminist Mageus, is tasked to go back in time to steal an ancient book. As she navigates the sinister and misogynistic world of early 20th-century Manhattan, she encounters Harte Darrigan, a magician with secrets of his own. Their intense connection and shared pursuit of knowledge lead to a time-bending attraction that fits well in this dark academia romance list.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab (2020)
In V.E. Schwab'sThe Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, protagonist Addie makes a Faustian deal for immortality and with it, is cursed to be forgotten by anyone she meets. Throughout the centuries, art and creative expression are her only friends while she plays muse to many artists and lover to many men, but none remember her. Until, after 300 years, someone does. Henry, Addie, and Luc's story is not one you'll want to put down.
Gothikana by RuNyx (2022)
Gothikana by RuNyx is a captivating dark academia romance set in the mysterious University of Verenmore, an ancient castle on a secluded mountain. Corvina Clemm, a life-long outcast, receives an admission letter to attend, and there she encounters the enigmatic and extremely handsome, Vad Deverell, a part-time professor. As they delve into the century-old mystery of disappearances and danger surrounding the castle, a forbidden love blossoms between them. The novel weaves together elements of dark academia, fantasy, paranormal, and gothic themes, creating a compelling tale filled with mystique, morbid elements, and incredibly spicy romance!
In the haunting world of dark academia romance the pursuit of knowledge meets mystery and passion. From forbidden love to haunting atmospheres, these novels offer a journey into the depths of human emotions. As you explore Jane Eyre's timeless allure, Maurice's forbidden awakening, and the entwined fates in The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, immerse yourself in the shadows of intellectualism and desire.
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Which dark academia romance resonates with your soul? What is missing from our list? Share your thoughts below!