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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at JMU chapter.
If We were villains by m.l. rio

The book If We Were Villains follows a group of seven fourth-year students at a performing arts college studying theatre; specifically, Shakespeare. However, something very dark occurs within the group, and they have to keep a secret regarding the murder of someone close to them, all while simultaneously trying to figure out what exactly happened. All of these sinister events happen over the course of a school year, where two plays act as the turning points for the rest of their lives.

The Ex Hex by erin sterling

The Ex Hex is a romantic comedy novel centered around the relationship between two witches – Vivienne Jones and Rhys Penhallow. At age nineteen, Vivienne and Rhys have a summer fling ending in turmoil, and Vivi ends up cursing Rhys. Fast forward nine years later, and they encounter each other for the first time again. The curse is enacted right away, spreading through the town itself. Now all the magic is going wrong, and Rhys and Vivienne have to find a way to fix it, and fast. This book is a fun fall read centered around Halloween, and it is only 200 pages long!

The Secret History by donna tartt

The Secret History follows a group of intelligent students at a college studying Greek language and philosophy. The plot is similar to If We Were Villains, but different in the way that the writing is presented. It has very dark academia vibes, taking place over the fall and winter seasons of a school year. The group of students band together to perform wild Greek-centered rituals, and one of them leads to a murder they don’t anticipate. This book tells a dark mystery, and is riveting all the way through. The style of writing is similar to that of a classic, which makes it feel older than it is.

Frankenstein by mary shelley

This classic is well-known for its spooky vibes. Frankenstein tells the story of a mad scientist and his monstrous creation, “Frankenstein’s monster”. The book proceeds to tell a tale of torture and abuse regarding this monster, and asks important questions about what humanity consists of, and when a creature becomes worthy of fair and kind treatment. Even though this creation of Frankenstein’s is seen as a terrifying monster, what is the actual definition of a monster? Through this whirlwind story of abandonment and neglect, many such moral questions are asked of the reader.

Ninth House by leigh bardugo

Ninth House is a fantasy occult novel published in 2019, and tells the story of Alex Stern. In the book, the setting is a darker version of the Yale University campus, involving the integration of several witchcraft-based secret societies. These organizations pursue strength and influence through dark magic, but have no concept of empathy or responsibility. This depiction of a more sinister academic environment fits perfectly with the theme of slight horror and autumn feels! The incorporation of magic makes it all the more appealing to the season of Halloween.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Legendborn is an urban fantasy novel that puts a spin on magic with an African American perspective, spiritual traditions and Arthurian legend. The main character, Briana, is taken through a series of ups and downs while exploring her magic and encounters many adventures along the way. At first, she is puzzled by how she can see things that aren’t supposed to exist, and thinks that she is crazy. However, over the course of the story, with the help of her mentor, Nick, she finally learns that she is capable of great things within herself. This book also fits with the otherworldly nature of the fall season, and has a plot that will definitely keep you entertained!

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray is another classic known for its eerie storyline. Dorian Gray has his portrait painted, but every time he does a misdeed, his painting gets more and more grotesque and horrifying. The portrait in itself represents something metaphorical about humans – if all of our immoral and terrible actions could be reflected in an external object, where would it leave us? This certainly leaves the reader with an uneasy feeling as we reach the end and Dorian Gray’s goodness goes downhill quickly.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I know that this is the second book by Leigh Bardugo on this list, but her writing is so entertaining and makes it truly difficult to put her books down. If you’re more fantasy-inclined, however, this book would be a great option for you! There is fantastic world-building (centered around the world of Grisha magic users), but the main plot focuses on a group of six individuals tasked with successfully completing a heist for payment. The Six of Crows, as they’re called, have to travel across land and sea, fighting their way toward a valuable object to gain their reputation and resources back. This fast-paced, high-action novel will be sure to keep your heart racing!

Rye Baker - JMU freshman I love writing, Gilmore Girls, and autumn. I enjoy listening to Taylor Swift, Lana del Rey, and Hozier. My favorite movie series is Harry Potter, and my favorite classic is The Great Gatsby. I have a tuxedo cat named Felix.