Want the best LGBTQ+ Dark Academia books? Here are 10 LGBTQ+ academia books you won’t be able to put down.
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You’re searching for dark academia books. But you also want LGBTQ+ representation. And you don’t know which books are worth your time.
The problem is, dark academia has been criticized for its lack of diversity.
Thankfully, there are so many incredible Dark academia books. So whether you’re searching for enemies to lovers romance or dark academia romance, I’ve got you. I’ve compiled the absolute best LGBTQ+ Dark Academia Books.
Read on for the best LGBTQ+ Dark Academia books
For even more recommendations, I have a whole blog post dedicated to dark academia books. I asked book lovers on social media to share their favourite dark academia books. I also browsed Facebook Groups, Reddit, TikTok, Youtube and blog posts for dark academia books.
You can check their recommendations here:
- Read on for the best LGBTQ+ Dark Academia books
- What is the Dark Academia Aesthetic?
- What are the best LGBTQ+ Dark Academia books?
- 1. A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske
- 2. We set the dark on fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia
- 3. The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake
- 4. The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
- 5. If we were villains by M.I. Rio
- 6. Ruinsong by Julia Ember
- 7. The Grimrose Girls by Laura Pohl
- 8. Maurice by E.M Forster
- 9. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
- 10. A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee
What is the Dark Academia Aesthetic?
Dark academia is a subculture with a heavy emphasis on reading, writing and learning. It’s the romanticization of learning.
I’ve heard it described as vintage with a gothic edge.
Think tweed, oxfords and plaid skirts but also dark photos and brooding poetry.
There have been some criticisms of Dark Academia. One important criticism is the lack of diversity in Dark Academia. Many people have commented on how eurocentric and white-dominated this aesthetic is because it’s linked to old universities such as Oxford. I think it’s really important we change that stereotype of academia. Below I’ve linked some wonderful posts and creators you can look at:
Dark Academia Reading List for Black People/Allies (Including Queer Black Authors) by Persephone Anasi
R C Waldrun – Incredible Youtuber who posts about Dark Academia
Golden Lanni – Has many Dark Academic related videos
What are the best LGBTQ+ Dark Academia books?
These are my recommendations for the best LGBTQ+ Dark Academia books. I’ve read and loved every book on this list.
1. A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske
There is so much to love about A Marvellous Light. It’s an mlm romance about magic, a mystery to solve and a secret magical society.
It follows Robin Blyth. Due to an administrative error, he is named liaison to a secret magical society. So, he is forced to contend with magic’s dangers and a deadly curse while he searches for his missing predecessor.
To do this, he’ll need the help of Edwin Courcey.
Edwin Courcey is his prickly magical society counterpart but he clearly wishes Robin were anyone else.
I love the secret society of magicians. And the Edwardian setting and mlm romance sets it apart from other books including secret magical societies.
If you like historical fiction or dark academia then you need to read this one. It’s fantastic to read about gay men in an Edwardian setting. It combines LGBTQ+ Dark Academia with a mystery and romance.
2. We set the dark on fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia
You need to check this book out if you’re after LGBTQ+ Dark Academia books. It has dark academia worldbuilding and one of the best wlw enemies to lovers romances.
It’s a Ya dystopian urban fantasy novel featuring a wlw romance and Latine representation.
We Set The Dark On Fire follows Daniela Vargas. She lives in a dystopian world where each man is entitled to 2 wives. A Primera and a Segunda. The Primera is intelligent, calm and analytical. The Segunda is the mother figure.
Outside the wall, the people go hungry. Dani started life outside of the wall. And she must use her wits to survive illegally in the capital.
But she is also married to one of the most powerful men in the kingdom.
The premise was intriguing. And the main character was instantly likeable. She also grows a lot through the book.
But the romance is what makes this so perfect.
Two badass women who are married to a Straight man but fall in love with each other.
The world-building is also excellent. And the book has such dark academia vibes. It opens in a prep school for girls. But it discusses so many important issues such as immigration politics and forced marriage.
We set the Dark on Fire features an intriguing dystopian premise and a likeable, strong-minded main character. It explores immigration politics, toxic masculinity and feminism. A great choice if you’re looking for fantasy books with dark academia vibes
3. The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake
If you’ve been on BookTok, then you’ve probably heard of The Atlas Six.
At one point, I couldn’t go on Booktok, without seeing a recommendation for The Atlas Six. It has amazing 11 million mentions on TikTok. But, I didn’t realise this had LGBTQ+ representation.
The Atlas Six is about a secret society of academics known as The Alexandrian Society. Their members look after lost knowledge. And they secure a life of awe-inspiring wealth, power and prestige.
Each decade, the world’s six most uniquely talented magicians are selected for initiation.
The Atlas Six follows six characters competing for entry into the society – Libby Rhodes, Nicolás Ferrer de Varona, Reina Mori, Parisa Kamali, Tristan Caine and Callum Nova.
Dark academia fans will fall in love with this book. Set in a library, it has tons of academic references. From lectures to classes and academic theories. Plus, multiple openly LGBTQ+ characters and romances.
So what’s my point? If you’re after Dark academia fantasy books, I highly recommend picking this up. It features an academic setting, a secret society and a group of overly intelligent friends
If you’re looking for books like The Atlas Six, I have lots of recommendations. You can check out my article on books like The Atlas Six here.
4. The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
If you’re looking for a book with great characters and dark academia vibes then you should check out The Raven Boys. It has a chaotic friendship group, fantasy and dark academia worldbuilding. Quick warning, the mlm romance is a slow burn and appears much later in the series.
The Raven Boys follows Blue. Each year in the churchyard, Blue watches her psychic mother see those who are going to die that year. Blue never actually sees them herself. Until this year. When she speaks directly to a boy.
He is called Gansey and is a student at Aglionby school. The students there are known locally as Raven Boys.
Raven Boys has such dark academia vibes. It’s set in a local private school. Gansey is also obsessed with researching Welsh mythology. And it even references Latin.
The characters are what make this book. On the surface, it seems like a quirky loner meeting rich boys. But it’s so much more than that!
The characters are all fully developed with fleshed-out (and tragic) backstories. The relationships between them are some of the best I’ve read in YA Fiction
A captivating read if you’re searching for LGBTQ+ Dark Academia books.
5. If we were villains by M.I. Rio
If you’re looking for a dark academia read, a secret society of a smart group of friends then you should check out If We Were Villains.
It follows Oliver Marks. He’s just served ten years in jail – for a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day he’s released, he’s greeted by the man who put him in prison.
Detective Colborne is retiring, but before he does, he wants to know what really happened a decade ago.
As one of seven young actors studying Shakespeare at an elite arts college, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off. But the casting changes and the secondary characters usurp the stars.
The play spills dangerously over into life and one of them is found dead.
If you enjoyed the characters in The Atlas Six, then this is the book for you. It features a secret society with pretentious members who end up doing morally questionable things.
6. Ruinsong by Julia Ember
This is yet another seriously underrated lgbt book. I don’t see this recommended nearly enough online.
Ruinsong is an ya lesbian book set in a dystopian world. It has lush world-building, a twisty plot and feisty main characters.
In this world, singers have magic powers when they sing certain songs. And they are able to heal, cause pain and heat people.
Cadence is a strong mage. She was born in poverty in an orphanage and rose to success. But she works for the evil Queen Elene. And Elene forces Cadence to use her power to torture others.
But when she is reunited with her childhood friend she must make a choice. Does she take a stand or follow the queen.
This book is like a dystopian and queer phantom of the opera.
The world building is so unique. It’s full of strong willed women wearing beautiful ball gowns taking down evil. It’s a dark fantasy where girls take down their enemies while wearing beautiful pink ballgowns.
It also has one of the most unique magic systems with singing as a vehicle for magic. It was really well developed. And the magic system and well developed characters really hook you into this story.
7. The Grimrose Girls by Laura Pohl
The Grimrose Girls is a modern take on classic fairytales such as The Little Mermaid, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. But with a darkly magical twist.
The heroines of the stories are re-imagined as friends attending an elite boarding school. After their friend dies, the police rule the death as suicide. But they decide to investigate to find out what really happened.
Grimrose Girls is a unique concept and fantasy retelling. The mystery was really gripping and well-paced. And the story kept mentioning tantalizing details that kept me engaged.
The story also uses the darker versions of the fairytales. And this added to the dark academia, mysterious tone of the book.
The book is also full of queer characters including lesbian, bi and transgender representation in the book. If you’re looking for a fantasy retelling or love the dark academia aesthetic then you should definitely pick this one up.
8. Maurice by E.M Forster
Want a historical romance? Then Maurice is for you.
Maurice is a 1971 romance. It deals with LGBTQ+ romance in the early 20th Century.
It follows Maurice. A young man who is heartbroken due to unrequited love. An unrequited love which opened his heart and mind to his own sexual identity.
But he is also trapped by the oppressiveness of Edwardian Society.
In order to be true to himself, he goes against the grain of society’s often unspoken rules of class, wealth, and politics.
E.M Forster wrote this novel in 1914. But he knew it would end this career. So it sat unread in a draw. Since it’s release it has been widely read. There is also an adaptation of this novel featuring Hugh Grant.
9. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
I couldn’t write a post on LGBTQ+ Dark Academia books without recommending a Picture of Dorian Gray.
A Picture of Dorian Gray is a classic novel. And it contains many coded reference to characters sexual identity in the novel. The original version with censored as it included many references to bisexuality. An uncensored version has since been released
The Picture of Dorian Gray is about a young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty.
His body retains perfect youth and vigor while his recently painted portrait grows day by day into a hideous record of evil.
This book is great choice if you’re interested in reading more classics. It’s a gothic fantasy that deals with the power of vanity.
10. A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee
A Lesson in Vengeance in a LGBTQ+ Dark Academia Fantasy and Thriller. It’s a great pick if you’re after LGBTQ+ Dark Academia books.
It follows Felicity Morrrow and is set at Dalloway School. Dalloway School is in the Catskill mountains and is a centuries-old campus.
And it was her home until the tragic death of her girlfriend.
But after a year away, she’s returned to graduate. And she even has her old room back in Godwin House. An exclusive dormitory rumoured to be haunted by the spirits of five Dalloway students rumoured to be witches.n The Dalloway Five all died mysteriously on Godwin Grounds.
Witchcraft is woven into Dalloway’s history. Before the death of her girlfriend,Felicity was drawn to the dark. But now she’s determined to leave that behind and graduate.
But a new girl won’t let her forget.
And when Ellis asks Felicity for help researching the Dalloway Five, Felicity can’t say no.
I’m a huge fan of dark academia fantasy books. Check out my article on dark academia fantasy books for even more recommendations.