It’s no secret that everyone wants to belong. Whether it’s the cool kid clique or a devoted fan club, or even just a little squad of your friends, being in a group is something most humans strive for to feel included, safe, and happy. But a secret society has the additional appeal of being extra exclusive because no one knows about it, meaning anyone in the group is special. Read enough novels, though, and you’ll realize that secret societies aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. That exclusivity can come at a cost, and oftentimes, not one that’s easy to pay. So whether you’re a conspiracy fan or just looking for a book where the lines between enemies and friends are blurred, here are eight books to scratch that secret society itch.
It seems like all the best (and deadliest) secret societies are part of schools. CURIOUS TIDES is no exception, with the students of Aldryn College for Lunar Magics having a deadly clique of their own. When a subpar healer named Emory is the sole survivor of a horrific drowning, she gains powers that defy the laws of the universe. On the hunt for answers, she runs into this exclusive club, which all of the drowned students were supposedly a part of. However, Emory’s powers, and the drowned students who come back only to die again hours later, catch the attention of this sinister group, and not with the best of intentions. As engrossing as it is thrilling, CURIOUS TIDES is a perfect choice for fans of dark academia or school-based fantasy!
Ninth House meets A Deadly Education in this gorgeous dark academia fantasy following a teen mage who must unravel the truth behind the secret society that may have been involved in her classmates’ deaths.
Emory might be a student at the prestigious Aldryn College for Lunar Magics, but her healing abilities have always been mediocre at best—until a treacherous night in the Dovermere sea caves leaves a group of her classmates dead and her as the only survivor. Now Emory is plagued by strange, impossible powers that no healer should possess.
Powers that would ruin her life if the wrong person were to discover them.
To gain control of these new abilities, Emory enlists the help of the school’s most reclusive student, Baz—a boy already well-versed in the deadly nature of darker magic, whose sister happened to be one of the drowned students and Emory’s best friend. Determined to find the truth behind the drownings and the cult-like secret society she’s convinced her classmates were involved in, Emory is faced with even more questions when the supposedly drowned students start washing ashore—alive—only for them each immediately to die horrible, magical deaths.
And Emory is not the only one seeking answers. When her new magic captures the society’s attention, she finds herself drawn into their world of privilege and power, all while wondering if the truth she’s searching for might lead her right back to Dovermere…to face the fate she was never meant to escape.
We’ve all made mistakes we regret, and for Nina, that was walking away from the Saturn Club, an elite alchemy-and-occult secret society that gave her connections and access. She thought leaving would be the best idea for her, but three years later, all she has are debts, doubts, and the tarot deck she got during her Saturn Club initiation that has been helping her stay afloat. But when Max, her friend and a superelite member of the group, asks her for a favor, she takes it as a chance to get back in with the group. What she didn’t plan on was getting dragged into a conflict between societies on the most fun and most dangerous night of the year: Saturnalia. Full of shifting alliances and dark secrets, SATURNALIA is a can’t-miss book for those who love the autumnal spirit of suspense and darkness.
Secrets can sometimes run in the family, and for Mary Jekyll, her family carries around a doozy. After her parents’ untimely demises, she goes on the hunt for her father’s old “friend,” Hyde, who is wanted for several murders. During her search, she stumbles onto Hyde’s daughter, a feral child named Diana who lives with (and terrorizes) nuns. Will Diana be the key to finding Hyde and helping Mary get the money she needs, or are there more sinister secrets afoot involving a secret society of immortal and immoral scientists? THE STRANGE CASE OF THE ALCHEMIST’S DAUGHTER doubles as a who’s who of classic literature, with Sherlock Holmes and John Watson as well as some of the daughters of other literary fiends of the era.
Joining a secret society is all fun and games until someone tries to steal your child because she has a rare and super valuable ability. Hunter is part of Our World, an elite group that has controlled most of the world’s most valuable treasures for centuries. But when Hunter’s daughter shows signs that she has the rare innate ability to spot precious artwork, Hunter breaks away to protect her from a life of crime and danger and to protect a priceless artifact from falling into the society’s hands. Too bad the murderous Zhivago is on his tail, and he’ll stop at nothing to get the artifact and continue Our World’s control. Hot off the presses, CALL ME HUNTER is a ticking-clock thriller that will have you glued to the page.
“Astoundingly original, relentlessly paced, and purely authentic.” —Jack Carr, #1 New York Times bestselling author
An elite secret society of killers has controlled the world’s treasures for hundreds of years…until one member tears himself free to salvage his soul and protect his daughter’s life in this electrifying and thrilling debut.
The single greatest work of art in the world is not in the Louvre or The Met, or in any private collection. In fact, its whereabouts are unknown.
Once in a long while, a child is born possessing the rarest of gifts, the innate ability to feel impossible beauty, to recognize priceless works of art. When such a child is discovered, a 250-year-old secret organization called Our World trains them to acquire the greatest works of art through theft, bribery, forgery, and even murder. Once found, the masterpiece will disappear again without anyone ever knowing it surfaced and sold for billions of dollars of profit at a secret auction attended by only the wealthiest of the art world’s patrons.
One of Our World’s rare geniuses is Zhivago. He is also a psychopathic killer. On his trail is Hunter, a man who will stop at nothing to destroy the organization and save his daughter from suffering the same fate her mother did at its hands.
Like peanut butter and jelly, secret societies and the chosen-one trope just go together hand in hand. In LEGENDBORN, that chosen one is Bree Matthews. Like most chosen ones, she’s not doing so great: her mother died in an accident, her childhood home is stifling, and she’s desperate to find a way out of her circumstances. Thankfully, a special program at UNC–Chapel Hill gives her that freedom…until she witnesses a supernatural battle that drags her into the world of mages and demons. And just like that, Bree is on a quest to uncover who these “Merlins” and their secret society are, and how it ties into her mom’s death. This is the perfect read for someone who loves a little (or a lot) of adventure in their fantasy novel, with a main character who will have you rooting for her from page one!
An Instant New York Times Bestseller!
Winner of the Coretta Scott King - John Steptoe for New Talent Author Award
Filled with mystery and an intriguingly rich magic system, Tracy Deonn’s YA contemporary fantasy reinvents the King Arthur legend and “braids together Southern folk traditions and Black Girl Magic into a searing modern tale of grief, power, and self-discovery” (Dhonielle Clayton, New York Times bestselling author of The Belles).
After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC–Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.
A flying demon feeding on human energies.
A secret society of so called “Legendborn” students that hunt the creatures down.
And a mysterious teenage mage who calls himself a “Merlin” and who attempts—and fails—to wipe Bree’s memory of everything she saw.
The mage’s failure unlocks Bree’s own unique magic and a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. Now that Bree knows there’s more to her mother’s death than what’s on the police report, she’ll do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if that means infiltrating the Legendborn as one of their initiates.
She recruits Nick, a self-exiled Legendborn with his own grudge against the group, and their reluctant partnership pulls them deeper into the society’s secrets—and closer to each other. But when the Legendborn reveal themselves as the descendants of King Arthur’s knights and explain that a magical war is coming, Bree has to decide how far she’ll go for the truth and whether she should use her magic to take the society down—or join the fight.
This paperback edition of Legendborn contains a teaser to the thrilling sequel, Bloodmarked, as well as an exclusive short story from Selwyn Kane's perspective!
Usually, secret societies are run by (and often exclusively for) men, but in THE MAIDENS, it’s the women who are running the show behind the scenes. At Cambridge University, The Maidens rule the school, and one of their favorites is Edward Fosca, a classics professor who may have a dark secret. At least as far as Mariana Andros, a therapist and alumna, is concerned. She thinks Edward is a murderer who is responsible for the mysterious murders of a handful of students on campus. But is Edward really committing these sinister deeds under the protection of The Maidens, or is Mariana spiraling deep down into the conspiracy rabbit hole? The only way to find out is to dive headfirst into this dark and twisted page-turner!
There’s just something about medieval secret societies that are so sinister, mysterious, and dangerous. For such a group to exist for so long, there must be something powerful about them. When Ann Stilwell gets assigned to work at The Cloisters, the medieval offshoot of New York City’s Metropolitan Museum, she finds that her fellow curators at The Cloisters are a bit obsessed with their conspiracies around the branch’s collection. However, Ann starts to buy into their tales when she finds a fifteenth-century deck of tarot cards that seems to predict the future. Are there darker forces at play, and just how much do her coworkers know about the power of the museum’s collection? THE CLOISTERS is a Gothic tale of art, magic, and what stories can do when we give them power and attention.
A Today Show #ReadWithJenna Book Club Pick
This instant New York Times bestseller that is “captivating in every sense of the word” (Sarah Pearse, New York Times bestselling author) follows a group of researchers uncovering a mysterious deck of tarot cards and shocking secrets in New York’s famed Met Cloisters.
When Ann Stilwell arrives in New York City, she expects to spend her summer working as a curatorial associate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Instead, she finds herself assigned to The Cloisters, a gothic museum and garden renowned for its medieval art collection and its group of enigmatic researchers studying the history of divination.
Desperate to escape her painful past, Ann is happy to indulge the researchers’ more outlandish theories about the history of fortune telling. But what begins as academic curiosity quickly turns into obsession when she discovers a hidden 15th-century deck of tarot cards that might hold the key to predicting the future. When the dangerous game of power, seduction, and ambition at The Cloisters turns deadly, Ann becomes locked in a race for answers as the line between the arcane and the modern blurs.
A haunting and magical blend of genres, The Cloisters is a “masterwork of literary suspense that surges to an otherworldly conclusion” (Mark Prins, author of The Latinist).
We’ve all had that class wherein a few best friends huddle together and make everyone else feel excluded, right? They’ll sit in a corner, sharing inside jokes, going off to lunch on their own, and holding secret meetings where they turn bunnies into boys. Maybe that last part just refers to the experiences of Samantha, who has a strange relationship with the four girls in her MFA Creative Writing program known as The Bunnies. But when she’s given the opportunity to join them and learn about their weird, wild nights, Samantha finds herself both drawn in and put out by what she finds. A metaphorical take on the creative process (and how messed up MFA cohorts can be), BUNNY is a story about keeping your friends close, your enemies closer, and your animal-turned-human creations closest of all.
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