The Secret History Review

E-Book, 629 Pages
Adult/ Thriller/ Dark Academia
By: Donna Tartt
Rating: 🌟🌟

“There is nothing wrong with the love of Beauty. But Beauty – unless she is wed to something more meaningful – is always superficial.”

I don’t know how to explain this in simple words, but I just don’t get it. Ever since I finished We Were Liars and enjoyed it -despite the cringy dialogue here and there- I wanted to read this one because many people saw similarities between the two books with most saying this is a better version of the story. Dear reader, I disagree!

This also has more than half a million ratings and an average rating of ~4.2 stars which means the majority of readers enjoyed it. And I am not someone who do hate reading because life is too short for that, so I went into this expecting to love it and wanting to love it even.

Where did things go wrong?
The story starts in a very interesting way with the opening line:

“The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation”.

This is very smart in my opinion because it gives a lot of information but raises even more questions. Who is Bunny and why is he dead and who are the “we” the narrator is talking about?

So, we know there’s a murder and we quickly get to know who did it and it means we now want the motive so it’s a whydunit kind of story rather than whodunit. Up till here everything is okay. The problems for me are the pacing which is very slow, the almost non-existent plot and the length of the story that I still can’t understand. This is the total opposite of We Were Liars where the characters were intriguing, and it was fast and kind of short even.

The characters in this story are insufferable and the whole motive for the murder is very questionable and may be unrealistic unless you believe these are a bunch of very weird people and they are. It apparently mirrors one of Greeks most beloved tragedies but I did not think it worked in the present time.

It can be argued that this book is a character study and I would have loved that if those characters were anything but pretentious and melodramatic, they even gave me Sally Rooney character vibes. Let’s be honest, it is admirable that this book took 7 years for the author to write but she was only 17 so I don’t expect her to be an expert on the subject.

“Forgive me, for all the things I did but mostly for the ones that I did not.”

Summary: I really wanted to fell into the hype of this book and love it but I simply couldn’t. The writing is okay, the characters are just over the top and I still think something went over my head with the plot. I don’t like pretentious books and this was one for sure. I initially gave it 3 stars because it still held my attention to finish it but after writing this review, I am finding out I did not enjoy it that much.

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  1. I had put this on my TBR as I keep seeing it referenced in reviews of other dark academia books. I’m possibly not going to rush to read it now. I enjoyed your review but feel that I might well not enjoy the book 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can’t remember what, exactly, did I feel about this book. I did enjoy it, it did have issues, but for the most part, it was easily something that I already forgot about. Although, I think I gave it 4-stars.

    Liked by 1 person

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