This phenomenal book by Donna Tartt has blown my mind and delves deep into the psychology behind murderous killings done by a group of privileged teenagers. It explores how one accidental murder led to another – a brutal and remorseless planned killing of their friend. Bound by secrecy and the possibility of being arrested, their friendships deteriorate and, despite the group’s smart and classy outer appearances, there is a hidden tension between the group due to the secrets they keep.


The Secret History is about a small, exclusive group of students studying Greek with their classics professor, Julian Morrow, who forces them to cut themselves off with the rest of the school by only taking classes with him. Even though he appears charming (similar to the group of students he teaches) he also seems to be extremely manipulative throughout the story.  


The story is from the perspective of Richard Papen, one of these such students studying Greek with Julian Morrow, who unfolds the dark truth behind the mysterious murders and the disturbing secrets he learns along the way.


If you read this book – as you should! – expect multiple deaths along the way. The events at Hampden (where this story is mainly set) haunted Richard Papen so much that he explains that he feels he must tell the story – the secret history of those awful happenings and the manipulation and evil lurking underneath it all.


Kakutani, writing for the New York Times, said “in The Secret History, Ms. Tartt manages to make...melodramatic and bizarre events (involving Dionysian rites and intimations of satanic power) seem entirely plausible."


The Secret History is structured as an inverted detective story – a key aspect of the novel that makes it so exciting and addictive. It starts with the murder, while those responsible are also introduced in the beginning. It compels the reader in from the start, and ends with a shocking and intriguing finish, leading to many rating it 5 stars, and an incredible quantity of positive feedback from critics.


One such critic, Sophie McKenzie, writing for The Independent, called it "the book of a lifetime", stating that it was "perfectly paced" and the characters are "fascinating and powerfully drawn".


Why not give it a try?