books i’m reading and loving right now

It’s been a great year so far of gothic, dark academic, and gloomy books. I don’t know if there’s been a (re)surge(nce) of gothic, or if I’m simply reaching for those books, but there have been good ones lately. Some are older, however, and I’ve been enjoying them, too.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

  • What I love about it: Great main characters, female friendships, compelling story, tackling difficult subjects, the late ’80’s setting
  • Genre: YA, supernatural, some humor
  • Year published: 2016
  • Synopsis: 1988. Charleston, South Carolina. High school sophomores Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fourth grade. . But after an evening of skinny-dipping goes disastrously wrong, Gretchen begins to act… different. Abby’s investigation leads her to some startling discoveries – and by the time their story reaches its terrifying conclusion, the fate of Abby and Gretchen will be determined by a single question: Is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil?
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Vita Nostra by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko

  • What I love about it: Keeps you guessing, it’s hard to follow (in a good way), great characters, a sense of mystery
  • Genre: Magical realism, fantasy, urban, dark
  • Year published: 2018
  • Synopsis: While vacationing at the beach with her mother, Sasha Samokhina meets the mysterious Farit Kozhennikov under the most peculiar circumstances. The teenage girl is powerless to refuse when this strange and unusual man with an air of the sinister directs her to perform a task with potentially scandalous consequences. He rewards her effort with a strange golden coin. As the days progress, Sasha carries out other acts for which she receives more coins from Kozhennikov. As summer ends…she uses her gold to enter the Institute of Special Technologies. The institute’s “special technologies” are unlike anything she has ever encountered. Using terror and coercion to keep the students in line, the school does not punish them for their transgressions and failures; instead, their families pay a terrible price. Yet despite her fear, Sasha undergoes changes that defy the dictates of matter and time…
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The It Girl by Ruth Ware

  • What I love about it: Great mystery and keeps you turning the pages
  • Genre: Mystery, thriller, crime, murder, suspense
  • Year published: 2022
  • Synopsis: April Coutts-Cliveden was the first person Hannah Jones met at Oxford. Vivacious, bright, occasionally vicious, and the ultimate It girl, she quickly pulled Hannah into her dazzling orbit. Together, they developed a group of devoted and inseparable friends—Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily—during their first term. By the end of the second, April was dead. Now, a decade later, Hannah and Will are expecting their first child, and the man convicted of killing April, former Oxford porter John Neville, has died in prison. Relieved to have finally put the past behind her, Hannah’s world is rocked when a young journalist comes knocking and presents new evidence that Neville may have been innocent… her fear, Sasha undergoes changes that defy the dictates of matter and time…
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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