Booktok Lied To Me: The Secret History Review

Did I enjoy The Secret History? No. But were the vibes immaculate? Yes.


Name: The Secret History

Author: Donna Tartt

Published: 1997

Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and for ever.


Maybe to say I didn’t enjoy it is a little dramatic; I’ve read worse. But it’s the sort of book you appreciate more after you’ve read it than during.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt is tantalizingly character based. While this is fascinating to analyze when you’ve finished the book, but for me, it didn’t make for a gripping read. When something did happen in the plot, combined with the previous character studies and powerful writing style, it was amazing. I sailed through the last 60 pages, and felt genuinely scared when Bunny died.

But the rest of the book? It was the five getting drunk and passing out, or getting drunk and going for a walk, or getting drunk and arguing. Julian wasn’t this mastermind he was set out to be and the weather had as much page time as Francis.

The biggest disappointment? I have to admit, The Secret History is the epitome of ‘Booktok made me read it’. I’d seen so many raving reviews praising the atmosphere that I went into reading with high expectations. I’d expected a pretentious read – sure, there’d be lot of classical references but enough substance to pull through.

And yes, in some ways, The Secret History was worth the hype. A few passages will stay with me for a very long time, and I’m left with a very strong impression of youth and classical civilization and murder and cold weather. But whilst reading? Boring as anything.


What about you? Have you had a similar experiences where Booktok let you down? Or any other overhyped books that just weren’t as good as you expected? Let me know in the comments!

If you wanna find more of this type of content, check out my Worth the Hype series here! From The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo to Red White and Royal Blue, I’m reading popular books so you don’t have to. To answer the question once and for all… are any of these books really worth the hype?

Published by Hundreds&Thousands

I’m a teenager (and a Hufflepuff) from Manchester. I like oversized jumpers, music that isn't on the radio anymore and books. Pretty much any book I can get my hands on but my favourites are Young Adult, fantasy and science fiction. One day, I decided to share some of my opinions on some great - and not so great - books to people around the world. And here it is! I really enjoy it and I hope you do too. The aim is hundreds and thousands of book reviews (see what I did there?) but I’m not quite up to that. Yet.

9 thoughts on “Booktok Lied To Me: The Secret History Review

  1. Big fat mood! This book made me feel so stupid haha. Everyone I came across seemed to love it but I just couldn’t get into it at all. The vibes were good in hindsight but it wasn’t the easiest book to fall into and the ending fell a little flat and anti-climactic.

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    1. Ah I’m so glad you agree! A lot of the references felt like they were there to just make the reader feel inferior, not to add to the plot. Although I have to say, for me, the ending was when the wait was actually worth it! This might just be me, but I found it quite unexpected? What do you think?

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  2. Personally, I loved it. It was a slow read for me too, but mainly because it was so dense and atmospheric that I couldn’t digest more than like 50 pages at a time. However, every time I put it down, the characters , the story and the setting would just stay with me.

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    1. Thanks so much for your opinion!! I totally see where you’re coming from – it’s such a rich atmosphere and the whole privileged college kid mentality and trust funds comes across so so well. The pace was a bit slow personally, but that’s just me! Obviously most people had already heard about this book as it’s pretty famous, but on the off chance, did you hear about it through booktok? Or did the sudden obsession with it change how you viewed it? I’m so interested! ☺️

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      1. Not really, I read it almost five years ago now. I can’t really remember how I got to it, but it was definitely before BookTok caught wind of it, as there was no TikTok at the time (that makes me sound really old, lol)

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