The Secret History by Donna Tartt book review

Image result for the secret history donna tartt


Genre: Contemporary, Modern Classic, Thriller, Literary Fiction

520 pages

“Beauty is terror. Whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before it.”

P.S. Lot’s of Tumblr like aesthetic coming your way 

The story is unlike any mystery I have ever read, enticed by the idea of why the murder took place as opposed to who did it. The popularity of the book is almost similar to the plot, in that you feel left out if you haven’t read it and the obsession surrounding it will make you pick up the book so as to understand why everyone freaking loves it.

“Beauty is rarely soft or consolatory. Quite the contrary. Genuine beauty is always quite alarming.”

The story is narrated by Richard and the first line of the book you discover that he and his fellow students have killed one of their own (Bunny) and he jumps back in time to sort of explaining the events that took place. We follow him as he attends this prestigious college in New England, as he becomes obsessed with this elite group of five Greek scholars (Henry, Bunny, Francis, Charles & Camilla) and how his life is altered once he joins the group. We witness through his eyes how complex and disturbing the human psyche can be as this terrible incident shapes & tears them apart.

The book is seriously beautiful, a slow contemporary mystery that is sort of inspired by Greek mythology. The aesthetic of the school paired with the dark tones of the plot and the extraordinary writing was to die for but the book didn’t quite meet my hyped expectation and I will talk about that later. The way the characters slowly lost their shit was really incredible and I loved how Donna Tartt sort of mimicked the self-destruction of the ancient Greek through them. She has this ability to form stories from art and mythologies in a modern setting that just work and I can definitely see some similarities between The Secret History and The Goldfinch. In the sense that both are narrated by an older character looking back at dark past, some form of art is pivotal to their lives, losing themselves in toxic relationships and so much more. The obsession of literature and the play on life imitates  art is another reason I admire her plus she made me interested in Greek Classics which I had no interest prior to  reading this XD

“I suppose at one time in my life I might have had any number of stories, but now there is no other. This is the only story I will ever be able to tell.”

I can definitely see why people would prefer this one to The Goldfinch (BOOK REVIEW HERE) not only are the characters interesting and the plot compelling but I still think The Goldfinch is superior in terms of characters’ study. So, my problem with the book was actually the 2nd person narration which as stated earlier is also in The Goldfinch but I preferred it there as opposed to here. I felt detached from the character and the unreliability of Richards character pulled me away from the story, yes, they were interesting but for the life of me, I couldn’t bring myself to care about them. Also, the secrecy aspect in some of the characters was drawn out for so long that when they revealed some part of themselves I just wasn’t as surprised. The only character I remotely had a strong feeling towards was Bunny and that was a pure hate.

“Does such a thing as ‘the fatal flaw,’ that showy dark crack running down the middle of a life, exist outside literature? I used to think it didn’t. Now I think it does. And I think that mine is this: a morbid longing for the picturesque at all costs.”

That is the only flaw and I guess it kind of my fault for setting unrealistic expectations, the book is definitely a must read, it will test your moral compass, make you think and utterly shock you at the events that unfold. It is similar to the TV show How to Get Away with Murder but with all white really fucked up the privileged cast.

I would really love to discuss it in detail because I still have so many things to address but due to spoilers  I will refrain 🙂 but if you do want to discuss my social media are all linked down below 🙂

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So until next time stay Bookish 😉










11 thoughts on “The Secret History by Donna Tartt book review

  1. This is one of those books I’m hesitant about reading because the hype around it is almost a bit annoying, plus it’s kind of long lol. I suppose I’m still gonna pick it up at one point though, just to see what it’s all about. Great and thorough review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Ann 🙂
      The hype was too much people literally worshipped it as this life changing book but I would honestly recommend you go into it with very low expectations because it is a beautiful well thought out book 🙂 Hope you do like it when you decide to read it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I really thought i were the only one hating Bunny!!! Good to know i’m not! I understand your p.o.v. Bill, i think it all comes down to the order in which the books are read. There’s a great distance between her first and third books and objectively, The Goldfinch is superior in character study and detail in general, but then The Secret History is one of a kind, especially if it’s your first Tartt. the one sets the expectations too high for the other, unfortunately, and vice versa!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. First of all your love for the book made me read it immediately so thank you I can finally say I have read The Secret History 🙌🙌🙌🙌 It was unique and for a Debut novel this was jaw dropping 👌👌👌👌 I love e Donna Tartt and I will forever Recommend this book even though i love ed the Goldfinch this one will still hold a dear place in my heart 😅 Yeah you are right it depends on the order you read because I think i might have loved this more than the Goldfinch if I had read it first 😅😅😅


  3. I have read “the goldfinch”. But didn’t think of reading other books by Donna Tartt. But now your review has added this one to my reading list.

    Liked by 1 person

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