For fans of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, these novels will take us back to school. In the pivotal years, people are meant to grow, these characters face high-stakes situations that make them question the very adults meant to help them along the way. Instead of tedious homework and fun extracurriculars, murder and secrets are at the forefront of these characters’ minds. These stories will take us into the underbelly of academia.
Six best friends in their first year at Oxford University play an elaborate game of dares and consequences with tragic results. What started as lighthearted fun takes a dark turn as stakes grow higher and dares become more personal and humiliating. Then fourteen years later, the remaining players must meet again to play the final round. This gripping psychological thriller is perfect for fans of high tension.
Catherine House, set in the deep woods of rural Pennsylvania, is a school of higher learning like no other. With its experimental curriculum, wildly selective admissions policy, and formidable endowment, they’ve produced some of the world’s best authors, artists, inventors, and presidents. But it comes with a price. Students must remove themselves from the outside world and give the House three years in exchange for a future of power and prestige. Ines Murillo is part of this year’s incoming class and expects a life of rigorous intellectual discipline. But when tragedy strikes, Ines begins to suspect something insidious happening in the school.
The prestigious Armitage Academy is shake to its core when the beautiful, aloof Claire Harkness is found in her dorm room one spring morning. From the local police detective to the various staff and faculty, everyone who was connected to Claire has their lives upended. Everyone wants to know what happened to Claire, but more importantly, where the baby she secretly gave birth to is. Madeline Christopher, an intern in the English department, is in the center of the investigation. She’ll have to investigate the relationship between the school’s students and adults. As she gets roped in deeper and deeper into the case, the dark intricacies of adolescent privilege at a powerful institution are exposed in this gripping story in the tradition of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History.
Addy Hanlon and Beth Cassidy have always been best friends with Beth calling the shots and Addy carrying them out. Now seniors who rule their intensely, competitive high school cheer squad, they’re feared and followed by the other girls until a young, new coach arrives. Coach Colette French draws Addy and the other cheerleaders into her life, and only Beth remains outside the Coach’s golden circle, unsettled by the new regime. But a suicide forces a police investigation on the Coach and squad. Addy tries to uncover the truth behind the death in this dark, beautifully written story that will ring in fans of Lord of the Flies if it were cast with a cheerleading squad.
Yoko Moriguchi only had her four-year old child, Manami, to live for after calling off her engagement. But an accident in the middle school where she teaches forces Yoko to give up and send in her resignation. Before she leaves, she has one last lecture to deliver and it’s a story that completely changes all her student’s understanding about two of their peers. This sets her plot for revenge in motion, giving readers twists they won’t see coming.
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Emily Hoang is a writer and editor, who is obsessed with haunted houses, ghosts, and dreams. More info can be found on her website.