The Secret History - Donna Tartt

Rating: ★



1. Amazing characters

2. Classics students in Vermont

3. Some REALLY messed up twists

4. Pretentious writing that put me off

5. I want to cuddle the twins and keep them safe


The Secret History has been haunting me for months. Years. Everyone has read this novel and it has been on my parents bookshelf for such a long time, that it seemed ridiculous that I haven't picked it up. But I never did. Until this summer, because if summer is for one thing, it's for long books.

It's hard to review this book and though I've said it before, this book might be the hardest one so far. Though I love the characters in this book (ESPECIALLY the twins!!), the writing was absolutely awful. I don't know why, but I felt like this was a Classics 101 class and was written in a way that was somehow pretentious and somehow for people who never read. It was a weird combination and I wasn't comfortable with Donna Tartt's constant need to show how she can describe things - something that is normally fine, but threw off the pacing of the 300 middle pages of this novel.

However, if you enjoy that kinda writing and are okay with severe pacing issues, there are some great characters in this novel. Our narrator, Richard, is new to his Vermont college and decides to join the classics students; a small group of five who only have one professor and meet in his office the whole time. Very early on, the reader notices something off about all the characters, though our narrator blissfully ignores this. 

Plot-wise, this book is one heck of a roller coaster. Many people have praised this novel for being crazy, yet plausible. I just found the whole story crazy. Nothing plausible about it. Yet enjoyable to read at times. Towards the end, I feel like it was one of those season finales where the writers know there won't be a next season anyway, so they just pull out every crazy trick they have. Donna Tartt wrapped this story up in a way that there will no re-introduction to these characters, so why not go crazy?

Like I said, I really enjoyed the characters of this novel, though I can't really discuss them without spoiling the book for everyone. I kinda wish someone else would take the twins and put them in their own, still very messed up, world with better writing. When it comes to creating characters, it's clear that not many people can do it better than Donna Tartt.

So many things about this book annoyed me while reading it, yet I can't give it less than three stars. I won't ever forget these characters and if you know me, you'll know that I love love love an amazing, well-rounded character. Donna Tarrt gave me more than five of them, which is a rare feat in one novel. But I also know I won't try to read any other books by her, because the writing is just so not my style. All I can say, try reading this yourself and figure out if the writing works for you.