Dark Academia

Dark Academia

Julia Nobel: The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane (Sourcebooks 2019)

The concept dark academia can also be interpreted both as a genre and as an aesthetic. As a genre, it includes the academic background of the plot (it takes place in some educational institution), the importance of learning and acquiring knowledge, secret societies, toxic friendships; it often takes place in the autumn season and usually there is a murder in it. As an aesthetic, vintage fashion (blazers, shirts, vests) appears. Its color palette is dominated by dark shades, autumn colors, brown, beige, gray and other warm earthy colors. Typical objects of the style are candles, books and pocket watches.

Based on these, Harry Potter is a typical dark academia novel. But we can also list a number of classics here, such as the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, a work by which the writer created the genre of sci-fi (!) or the Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, but I would also list here one of Agatha Christie’s famous stories, The Cat Among the Pigeons.

Julia Nobel grew up in northern Canada, studying history and childcare at university, but her passion for middle grade literature flared up again in her late twenties. The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane is her debut novel.

Our protagonist, Emmy is sent to a boarding school in England by her mother, the famous child psychologist (“parenting guru”). The little girl is sure she won’t be able to fit into Wellsworth’s strict world, but she soon finds friends (which hasn’t happened to her before) and also stumbles upon a mystery: a secret society is working within the school walls. There are no scary things going on in the novel, yet its mood is tense as the children have to deal with real dangers. The plot spans a school year at school, but there are no magical objects and helpers here, the characters can only rely on themselves.

The next volume in the series, The Secret of White Stone Gate, was released in March 2020.

To learn more about the series, visit the writer’s website: http://julianobel.com/.