Dark Academia and THE WHISPERING DARK by Kelly Andrew
Back when I was writing this post about What Do Teens Mean When They Talk About an Aesthetic?, I kept running into the term Dark Academia. This is a very popular aesthetic in older YA literature, but one that I wrestled with clearly defining for myself. Dark Academia tends to be set in an academic setting, like a boarding school or college, and has gothic vibes. Dark Academia asks readers to take gothic journeys down dark hallways with dark characters and usually has a pretty decent body count. According to articles like this, Dark Academia is trending with Gen Z. In some ways it makes a sad type of sense that a generation of teens who have spent their academic years doing shooter drills and hearing news report after news report about yet another school shooting are finding ways to work through their academic angst, including the high pressure to succeed academically and socially, in the pages of Dark Academia. School for Gen Z can be a terrifying prospect, so taking it to absurd and often paranormal places helps adolescent readers work through their anxiety in the way that horror often does; it’s a safe space to explore the very real dangers of their worlds.
Some of the more popular Dark Academia titles include:
I recently read an ARC for a newly released book titles The Whispering Dark and fans of Dark Academia will love it!
Publisher’s Book Description:
The Raven Boys meets Ninth House in the most exciting debut of 2022 — a dark, atmospheric fantasy about a Deaf college student with a peculiar connection to the afterlife.
Delaney Meyers-Petrov is tired of being seen as fragile just because she’s Deaf. So when she’s accepted into a prestigious program at Godbole University that trains students to slip between parallel worlds, she’s excited for the chance to prove herself. But her semester gets off to a rocky start as she faces professors who won’t accommodate her disability, and a pretentious upperclassman fascinated by Delaney’s unusual talents.
Colton Price died when he was nine years old. Quite impossibly, he woke several weeks later at the feet of a green-eyed little girl. Now, twelve years later, Delaney Meyers-Petrov has stumbled back into his orbit, but Colton’s been ordered to keep far away from the new girl… and the voices she hears calling to her from the shadows.
Delaney wants to keep her distance from Colton — she seems to be the only person on campus who finds him more arrogant than charming — yet after a Godbole student turns up dead, she and Colton are forced to form a tenuous alliance, plummeting down a rabbit-hole of deeply buried university secrets. But Delaney and Colton discover the cost of opening the doors between worlds when they find themselves up against something old and nameless, an enemy they need to destroy before it tears them — and their forbidden partnership — apart.
Karen’s Thoughts: Set in a college, a very new adult growing up in poverty is sent to a school that has quite the reputation, but for what no one is sure. Delaney is deaf, which comes into play in many ways in the story. She also has often seen visions, of what she isn’t sure, and no one believes her. But when she arrives at the school, there is a boy who seems to know exactly who she is and the ways their stories intertwine are just one of the many fascinating elements that make this story so haunting. Like a lot of dark academia, there definitely are some unhealthy relationship things that happen (sorry, but it’s true) as everyone’s initial motives are less honest than one would want in a relationship. There are some interesting reflections on family and friendship. But at the end of the day, it’s the dark, brodding mystery of what is happening and why that readers will enjoy. The Whispering Dark takes dark journeys into the occult, which is what a lot of readers are here for and for the most part, they should be quite satisfied. I kept reading because I wanted to know what was happening and why, and at the end of the day I was rooting for Delaney to survive her journey into the darkness.
Filed under: Young Adult Fiction
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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