Review – The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Review - The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Caitlyn Jones

“Beauty is rarely soft or consolatory. Quite the contrary. Genuine beauty is always quite alarming.” This quote within The Secret History by Donna Tartt illustrates what makes this book a modern American classic. I have been a reader for most of my life, but the words in this novel have entranced me like no other book has done before. It is full of unexpected twists, surprisingly good humor and characters that are terribly flawed, but oddly charming. Combining all of this and we have a book that continues to dominates the publishing industry more than 30 years later.


When Richard Papen moves across the country to Vermont for school, he becomes immediately enthralled with a small Greek classics  program on campus. Though this program is not all it seems. Richard, along with the 5 other students, isolate themselves from the rest of campus and dedicate themselves to the teachings of their classics professor. Though what they fail to realize is that idolizing the past can be dangerous if you do not also acknowledge its faults.

What Makes This Novel So Special?

What makes this story truly special is how Donna Tartt chose to tell it. Instead of the classic thriller mystery format, Tartt throws the reader for a loop by introducing a mystery and immediately solving it. By doing
this the reader fully focuses on the ‘how and why’ of the crime instead of just the ‘who.’

This book is also very accessible to readers in my opinion. Though the subject matter is considered pretty niche, Donna Tartt made sure that audiences who knew nothing about Greek classics and tragedies were given enough information to follow along and audiences who were well versed were given niche  references to add to their experience.

Though my personal favorite part of this book is the way Donna Tartt writes. As I mentioned before, this is the first book that truly made me feel like I was sucked into the pages. Her characters are undeniably flawed, but she goes out of her way to flesh them out beyond that and create something that almost lives and breathes off of the page. The way she writes characters made me feel like I truly knew them, like I was sitting right there as part of the group. The way that she writes feels honest and leaves very little to the imagination, allowing me to create a perfect image in my head when reading a scene or envisioning a face.

Final Thoughts

I was always hesitant to read this book, to me it seemed like most other classics, overhyped and boring. Though when I finally gave it a chance I found that it was well-paced, engaging all the way through and something that has stuck with me long after finishing it. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you ever wanted to experience one of the most influential  books of our time I would highly recommend it.

Remember! Before checking out a book make sure to look up potential triggers! Stay safe!

Rating: 4.7/5

Make sure to buy The Secret History by Donna Tartt on Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, or support your local book stores near you!
Make sure to check out Ronny’s newest review of The Cast Case of Benedix Fox, as well as Stephan’s review of Cocaine Bear
For everything else Geeky, stick with Geewave!