As fall weather approaches, some of us want to cuddle up with a cozy blanket and scented candles, reading a warm and fuzzy book while sipping on a hot latte. Others want to dive into the dark corners of a cobble-stoned academy, uncovering danger and magic by infiltrating secret meetings held by candlelight at midnight.
This list is for the latter half.
One of my favorite aspects of a good, dark fantasy is uncovering mysteries deeply hidden by those who wish to keep them secret. Secret Societies have always been a core staple in both Dark Academia and Modern Fantasy. And they are key features in some of our absolute favorite reads here at Riveted. So cloak up and dive in to some of these thrilling reads. We promise, we’ll share the secret password with you.
Books With Secret Societies That Will Captivate You
1. Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
When you think of secret societies, one of the first things to come to mind is a college campus. In Legendborn, Tracy Deonn mixes the intrigue of magic and academia with Arthurian lore. Bree witnesses what appears to be a demon feeding off her fellow students. Her hunt for this creature will lead her to a secret society called the Legendborn, diving her into an epic world of fantasy and myth hidden within our own world. Make sure to pick up this instant bestseller.
2. The Bones of Ruin by Sarah Raughley
Iris, an African tightrope performer in Victorian London, cannot die. And with her memory gone, she is in desperate search of her past and who she is. When she meets Adam, a member of a secret order called the Enlightenment Committee, her search gets more complicated. The world is ending, and this society decides who lives and who dies. Now, a competition will not only determine the society’s new leader, but holds the key to Iris’s past.
3. The Witch Haven by Sasha Peyton Smith
Our next book dealing with secret societies just happens to be one of the hottest new releases of the fall. It’s 1911, New York City, and Frances is in grave danger. After narrowly escaping a deadly attack she can’t explain, two mysterious nurses rush her off to a sanitarium. But if the title of this list is any hint, it’s not a sanitarium at all, but rather a secret sisterhood of witches. Here, Frances attempts to master her innate ability while solving the mystery of her brother’s murder months prior. But as her power grows, so does the darkness around, as well as those who wish to use her for their own intents. Once you’ve read The Witch Haven be sure to pick up book two, The Witch Hunt!
4. Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young
The Girls of Innovation have it all: smarts, beauty, potential, a bright future. But this academy holds a tight grip over its students. As our hero Mena begins to discover this and question the school’s intentions, she will spark a resistance in the girls. This is high-octane drama with a dark academia setting, and not to be missed.
5. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Surely, you have heard us sing the praises of Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter novels again and again. But with such memorable characters crafted in a world as rich with history and lore as this, these novels are teen fantasy classics for a reason. City of Bones, the first of her novels, introduces us to the world of angels, demons, and monsters with gripping ferocity. The Shadowhunters operate as their own secret society within New York City; they hide and fight in the shadows of the city to protect our world from its most hellish threats. Rediscover this classic through a new lens.
6. Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury
This hot summer debut is a dark and rich fantasy you’ll want to get your hands on. Voya is a witch with a terrible choice in front of her: to save her family’s magic, she must sacrifice her first love. The only issue is she has never been in love. Luckily, a secret matchmaking program has just arrived. Voya will need to infiltrate this group, find her love, and kill him. It’s a thrilling page turner with thrilling twists and non-stop drama.
7. These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
This inventive retelling has become a new YA classic in its own right. In Chloe Gong’s novel, we see a magical retelling of Romeo & Juliet set in 1920s Shanghai, Gong reinvents this Shakespearean rivalry not just as gangs, but rather secret, criminal networks with a blood feud. And caught in between are Juliette and Roma, former first loves still stung by the blade of betrayal. This is an incredibly original and majestic retelling that is well worth the hype.
8. The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell
How about secret societies with a dash of time travel? That’s exactly what you will get in Lisa Maxwell’s thrilling novel. Esta, a modern-day New Yorker, helps to retrieve magician’s artifacts. These objects are held by the sinister Order, a secret society that created the Brink to trap magicians on the island of Manhattan. But Esta’s trick is to travel back in time to steal the objects before the Order even knows it. This book is a perfect combination of heists, magic, and adventure.
9. The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett
This read is a must for fans of Spooky Season and classic monsters. Theodora is her father’s daughter, a bookworm with a taste for adventure and lost relics. But when her father goes missing, she must team with her once love Huck on an expedition to rescue him. Their journey will take them deep into Romania and on a quest to find the lost rings of Vlad the Impaler. They will encounter danger, secrets, and an occult society in their perilous journey in this can’t-miss adventure.
10. Very Bad People by Kit Frick
In this dark academia young adult thriller for fans of The Female of the Species and People Like Us, a teen girl’s search for answers about her mother’s mysterious death leads to a powerful secret society at her new boarding school—and a dangerous game of revenge that will leave her forever changed.
11. Cruel Illusions by Margie Fuston
Caraval meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer in this deliciously dark young adult fantasy about a girl who makes a deal with a magical secret society to enter a potentially deadly competition for the chance to avenge her mother’s death.