If you love dark academia and YA books, then good news: 2022 is your year! While dark academia doesn’t have an easy or simple definition, it’s definitely gotten a lot of buzz in YA in the past year or so as readers who can’t get enough rediscover YA classics that fit the dark academia vibe, such as A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray, and eagerly devour new dark academia reads, such as Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé. Dark academia started out as an aesthetic that seems to have morphed into a sub-genre or even a vibe in fiction, but I define dark academia in fiction as books with a prominent academic setting, be it a regular school or boarding school, and some kind of darker plot, twist, or slant, or a school setting that explores a darker underbelly or themes. What’s great (and potentially confusing) about this definition is that it encompasses a whole bunch of different genres, and dark academia books exist on a spectrum of darkness, so you can go with a book about corrupt boarding schools to murder mysteries and thrillers to straight up horror!
If this sounds like it might be your jam, then I’ve rounded up a list of ten dark academia YA books hitting shelves in 2022. Here we have murder and secrets, magic and monsters, and plenty of thrills!
The Chandler Legacies by Abdi Nazemian
Told from the point of view of five different students at the exclusive Chandler Academy in New England, this 1999-set book explores the toxicity at their school. The five aren’t friends, but when they are chosen by their English professor to participate in a special creative writing workshop called The Circle, they learn to bear their souls to each other in their writing, and realize that their perceptions about each other might not be accurate. And when some darker secrets are exposed, they decide someone needs to take action. This one has The Secret History vibes!
The New Girl by Jesse Q. Sutanto
In Sutanto’s clever follow up to The Obsession, we return to Draycott Academy, where secrets lurk under the surface. Lia Setiawan has just won a track scholarship and is excited to start at school, but on her first day she sees campus security carry away a girl…and no one at her new school seems interested in talking about it. Weird. But then more strange things come to her attention and a blackmailer becomes determined to see Lia gone, leaving her scrambling to uncover the school’s secrets before they can get to her.
The Castle School (for Troubled Girls) by Alyssa Sheinmel
Moira is not at all happy when her parents send her to Castle School, an experimental boarding school in the woods of Maine for troubled teen girls. Moira has been struggling since her best friend’s death, but that doesn’t mean she’s about to open up to the peculiar staff or the other girls. But when Moira discovers a parallel boy’s school nearby, but kept secret, she begins to suspect that there is much more to these schools and the teachers’ motivations than simply helping the students get over their traumas.
My Dearest Darkest by Kayla Cottingham (March 29, 2022
On the surface, Finch seems like just another new student at Ulalume Academy, but what no one else knows is that months before she survived a devastating accident that should have killed her…but a monstrous force wouldn’t let her truly die. Now, she feels a pull to Ulalume Academy she no longer has to deny. Selena recognizes that something about Finch is off, yet despite her suspicions, she is drawn to her. Things take a dark turn when the girls awaken a monster in the school that makes some devastating bargains with the students.
Why Would I Lie? by Adi Rule (April 5, 2022)
Viveca North is the hardest worker at her high school, and it’s all with one goal in mind: becoming valedictorian. But when a new guy shows up and easily outpaces her academically (and socially), Viveca is more than pissed: She’s convinced that there’s something more to him than meets the eye. She begins investigating his past, despite everyone around her thinking she’s just paranoid. As she gets in deeper and deeper, Viveca will have to reckon with what’s more important: exposing a fraud, or losing her shot at a future.
Very Bad People by Kit Frick (April 5, 2022)
Calliope Bolan’s life changed forever when her mom drove the family van into a lake with her and her two sisters inside. While Calliope and her sisters survived, her mom did not…and everyone has wanted to know the reason behind her mom’s actions ever since. Now 16, Calliope has just been accepted to Tipton Academy, the boarding school her mom once attended. She even scores an invite to the school’s secret society who seem bent on righting wrongs…but when they seem to take a few steps too far, Calliope finds shocking connections between the society and her mother’s death.
Youngblood by Sasha Laurens (July 19, 2022)
Kat and her mom are vampires, but they’re barely surviving in the world of humans. The synthetic blood substitute they need to survive is absurdly expensive, and they can’t catch a break…until Kat is accepted into an elite boarding school for vampires. There, her roommate is Taylor, a wealthy vampire who’s gotten everything she’s ever wanted, except her freedom and acceptance. They clash at first, but when the two of them discover some disturbing secrets and a dead body, they learn that their school is no safe haven.
The Lies We Tell by Katie Zhao (August 9, 2022)
When Anna Xu starts college, she doesn’t go very far: Just across town to the local college campus. For a little separation, she moves into one of the dorms, but thoughts of her immigrant parents and their struggling bakery are never far from her mind. Anna has a specific goal for her freshman year: She wants to investigate the unsolved murder of her childhood babysitter, which happened right on this very campus. Her investigation is complicated by a new friendship with the son of a rival business, and when that business becomes a target of harassment as a direct result of Anna’s investigation, the two team up to try and uncover a murderer…and expose a hate group.
Seton Girls by Charlene Thomas (August 30, 2022)
Seton Academic High has a 13-year winning streak when it comes to football, and everyone says it’s all due to the Seton Girls. What the girls actually do, no one really knows. But when racism and jealousy drive the team’s quarterback to greater lengths and bigger wins, the secrets to their success leak out to a small group of girls who suddenly hold all of the power and the fate of the team in their hands.
If You Could See the Sun by Ann Liang (October 11, 2022)
Alice Sun is a student at an elite Beijing boarding school, where she’s always stuck out as the only scholarship student amongst her obscenely wealthy classmates. She wishes she could be invisible to the world, but even she’s shocked when she discovers that turning herself invisible is actually possible. When her parents break the news that even with her scholarship they’re no longer able to afford to send Alice to this school, she decides to put her powers to use…and the easiest way to monetize off her new power is to use her skills to obtain and sell her classmates’ secrets. She expects to deal with some scandalous gossip and petty misdeeds…what she doesn’t expect is getting involved in actual crime.
Looking for more dark academia YA books? We’ve got you covered!