Books to Put You in the Fall Mood
Content warning: this article, and some of the books in it, mention drug use, overdosing, sexual assault, and PTSD. Reader discretion advised.
Grab a fuzzy blanket, your cat, your fall playlist, and maybe a cup of tea because it’s finally fall. The best season for reading, in my opinion. If you’re a mood reader like me, that is, you pick up books based on whatever you’re feeling that day, the fall feeling can definitely influence what you read in these next few months. So I’ve narrowed down all the books I’ve read this year to my favorites that give me that fall feeling.
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
Leigh Bardugo is well known for her best-selling series Shadow and Bone, a young adult fantasy series that was adapted for Netflix earlier this year. Ninth House is her first new adult novel, and she doesn’t disappoint. She weaves a captivating tale of Galaxy ‘Alex’ Stern as she embarks on her freshman year of college at Yale. Alex is not Yale’s typical student, rather, she is the exact opposite. She’s had a rough few months, waking up after a party surrounded by the dead and mutilated bodies of her friends and ex-boyfriend, with no memory of how it happened. Still, that’s not the only thing that makes Alex stick out: she can see ghosts. Referred to as Grays, Alex can not only see them, but communicate with them, making her a commodity in the secret society she is a part of, Lethe.
While still a fantasy novel, Ninth House also deals with mature topics like drug use, overdosing, sexual assault, and PTSD but doesn’t take away from the plot or feel just for shock value. The descriptions can be graphic at times, and there is some gore in the way the Grays are described, so if you’re squeamish, take caution! That being said, this book is perfect for those who like the supernatural and spooky part of fall. It has magic, secret societies, ghosts, a murder mystery, the struggle of surviving your first year of college, female rage, entitlement in an Ivy League, and manages to be the perfect combination of mystery, horror, and fantasy.
The Maidens by Alex Michaelides
If you like dark academia, this is the book for you. It has an old university (Cambridge), another secret society, Greek mythology, classic literature, and a twisty murder mystery. Mariana Andros, a therapist, gets a call one night from her niece, Zoe, who is distraught after the murder of one of her friends at Cambridge. When Mariana goes to visit her on campus, she meets one of Zoe’s professors, a charismatic and charming man named Edward Fosca. By day, he teaches Greek tragedy, but by night he holds meetings of The Maidens, a female secret society who Mariana believes are hiding something about Edward Fosca.
If you read Alex Michaelides’ debut novel The Silent Patient, you’ll know he has a gift for weaving a captivating murder mystery with a killer you’ll never suspect. This is definitely true of The Maidens. He gives just the right amount of clues, interspersed with classic literature and Greek mythology, so the story is engaging. Cambridge is beautifully described, and the characters are all well-developed and complex. This is an excellent book for those who like to romanticize fall, dark academia, Greek mythology, murder mysteries, and a plot twist that you won’t see coming.
The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake
If there’s one book you read from this list, make it this one. Olivie Blake is an incredible storyteller, her characters feel like real people, and the plot is unlike anything I’ve read about before. It follows six young adults, all with a niche magical power, who are approached by a man, named Atlas that wants to recruit them for The Alexandrian Society. The Society is composed of magical academics who keep the knowledge of the ancient civilizations. Every year, six people are selected to compete in initiation. But only five will actually be initiated. One will be eliminated.
This story has magical competition, dark academia, quests for knowledge, time travel, unknown powers, philosophical discussions, betrayals, and that’s just the plot. The characters are by far the best part of the story. They’re well-developed, multidimensional, and despite there being six of them they all have unique inner monologues, so it never gets monotonous. They’re all diverse in their sexualities and racial backgrounds, and each presents a balanced combination of strengths and flaws. This is another book for any fans of dark academia or if you’re looking for a strong fantasy novel that isn’t about teenagers saving the world. I cannot recommend this enough.
The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
This book is about teenagers saving the world, but don’t let that deter you. Think Knives Out meets Cinderella. Avery Grambs goes to school one morning and finds out that Tobias Hawthorne, a dead billionaire she has never heard of, has left the entire contents of his will to her. Thoroughly confused and suddenly a billionaire, Avery moves into the mansion also left to her by Tobias. The only problem is the mansion is occupied. Tobias’ four grandsons live there: Nash the older, responsible one, Grayson the one who expected to inherit Tobias’ fortune and now despises Avery, Jameson the one who thinks Avery is a puzzle from his grandfather for him to solve, and Xander the youngest who knows more than he lets on.
As Avery adjusts to her new life and its perks, she begins to realize what kind of game Tobias Hawthorne and his grandsons are playing. Hawthorne House is full of puzzles, mazes, secret passageways, mysteries, and clues. If you like solving riddles, puzzles, and mysteries, you would love this book. And don’t even get me started on the plot twists. Just when you think you’ve figured out whodunit, there’s a twist out of nowhere and then the book ends on a complete cliffhanger. This is perfect for that mystical, mysterious part of fall with plenty of foreshadowing, mystifying adventures, and a cliffhanger that is guaranteed to make you angry.