Reads to Scratch Your Wednesday Itch

From a long-running New Yorker cartoon to a #1 Netflix show, the Addams family have delighted us for years. Their most recent title, Wednesday, focuses on the titular daughter and her experiences at a boarding school for outcasts both mundane and monstrous. Specifically, one student appears to have become more monstrous than most, killing students and townsfolk alike. Wednesday must navigate eerie halls and snarky teenagers to solve the mystery before time runs out! It’s a near perfect example of the “dark academia” online aesthetic, eminently popular for its references to Classical Greek and Collegiate Gothic designs. Adapted for books, it usually refers to a sort of grimdark school setting, especially in YA novels. If you loved Wednesday, or the idea of dark academics, check out these titles: 

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo 

This is a lush, supernatural mystery set amongst secret societies at Yale. Galaxy “Alex” Stern is offered a full ride by a mysterious benefactor – especially shocking given that she’s a high school dropout who can see ghosts. Her acceptance comes with membership in and a task from a House of the Veil, to monitor the other eight houses and their use of dark magic.

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

I will take any excuse to bring up Naomi Novik! Back in September I published a whole blog post dedicated just to this trilogy, and I’d also recommend it here. El is a main character to rival Wednesday herself in sullen heroics! The magic school in A Deadly Education is almost as dangerous as the outside world for magical children, and El’s negotiation of it is complicated by the infuriating (to her) and noble class hero, Orion Lake.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

After the tragic and shocking death of his grandfather, Jacob Portman does some digging and realizes there may have been more to the man’s colorful stories of a secret home guarded by “a wise old bird.” Setting off the find it and the magical children inside, however, catches the attention of the same monsters that had come after his grandfather. 

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

This was the book I checked out for myself last month to scratch my dark academia itch. I loved Morgenstern’s debut novel The Night Circus for its language appeal (another previous blog post), and this one is following nicely in those footsteps. Zachary Rawlins is a humble Vermont grad student, until he comes across a story from his own childhood in a hidden book. Following the clues leads him to a massive underground secret library in New York City, those who give their lives to protect it, and those who would do anything to destroy it. 

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