The best YA books about secret societies

Suzanne Myers Author Of Stone Cove Island
By Suzanne Myers

Who am I?

I’ve never belonged to a secret society, but I’ve always been drawn to the idea. When I wrote Stone Cove Island, I was thinking about secrets passed down between generations of the islanders, and I liked the idea that even within, but I liked the idea that even within this tiny community, there was an inner circle of people invisibly controlling things. I’d heard a story from a friend—and it might just be a story, but I’m not the only one who’s heard it—about a rich, private island where if you did something to displease the residents, they sent you a black sweater. No note. Just the sweater. The message was clear: time for you to go.


I wrote...

Stone Cove Island

By Suzanne Myers,

Book cover of Stone Cove Island

What is my book about?

When a catastrophic hurricane devastates Stone Cove Island, a serene New England resort community, everyone pulls together to rebuild. Seventeen-year-old Eliza Elliot volunteers to clean out the island’s iconic lighthouse and stumbles upon a secret in the wreckage: a handwritten, anonymous confession to a twenty-five-year-old crime.

Bess Linsky’s unsolved murder has long haunted the island, and the letter turns the town inside out. Everyone who knew Bess is suddenly a suspect. Soon Eliza finds herself in the throes of an investigation she never wanted. As Stone Cove Island fights to recover from disaster, Eliza plunges the locals back into a nightmare they believed was long buried.

The books I picked & why

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The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

By E. Lockhart,

Book cover of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

Why this book?

This book has to be among my top 5 favorite YA books in any category. I love a mystery, I love a main character bucking the system, I love a boarding school book (get ready to notice a theme here), and I love a strong teenage girl who likes herself. I remember talking to my agent about Eliza, the main character in my book, and saying that I wanted to write a character who was not trying to fix herself and please other people, someone comfortable in her own skin. Frankie is cool, smart, intrepid, and not easily dissuaded. You’ll love her.


The Secret History

By Donna Tartt,

Book cover of The Secret History

Why this book?

If I could adapt any book into a movie, this would be the one. I love everything by Donna Tartt, but this one remains my first and my favorite. I reread it probably every 5 years or so. When this book came out, YA wasn’t an official genre in publishing yet, and this is an example people give of a book that would have worked as a YA novel. Richard meets a group of Classics students and their charismatic teacher and is let into their secret fellowship. The book sucks you into a group of characters you long to be best friends with and then, without giving too much away, halfway through the book, you’re suddenly looking at the world through a completely different lens.


The Apothecary

By Maile Meloy,

Book cover of The Apothecary

Why this book?

How I wish I could read this one all over again for the first time. I can’t, but you can! In this semi-magical spy thriller, 14-year-old Janie is suddenly forced to move to London from Los Angeles with her family, where she fits in badly in her new school as the awkward American. She’s quickly drawn into a secret network of spies – mostly of the amateur variety who, thanks to an ancient book of potion recipes, can do all kinds of things, like turn into birds.


The Grounding of Group Six

By Julian F. Thompson,

Book cover of The Grounding of Group Six

Why this book?

This is an obscure book you’ve probably never heard of from the 80s, but trust me here. (And yes, it’s set at a boarding school.) In this story, the kids assigned to group 6 are part of a secret society not of their own choosing. Their parents have sent them there to get rid of them. Permanently. With the help of their teacher, they escape to the wilderness to figure out how to survive


The Secret Place

By Tana French,

Book cover of The Secret Place

Why this book?

This one is another not-strictly YA pick (but don’t worry. It is set at a boarding school). If you haven’t read Tana French, I recommend starting today, In this crime mystery, Holly, a student at a prestigious boarding school outside of Dublin, is thrust into the center of a murder investigation. Awkwardly for Holly, her dad happens to be one of the homicide detectives at the Dublin Murder Squad. What’s wonderful about the secret society in this book is that it’s both underground and (anonymously of course) right in plain sight. The “secret place” here refers to a student bulletin board where everyone reveals her secret.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in secret society, apothecary, and murders?

5,810 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about secret society, apothecary, and murders.

Secret Society Explore 39 books about secret society
Apothecary Explore 8 books about apothecary
Murders Explore 334 books about murders

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Talented Mr. Ripley, Before I Fall, and Where the Crawdads Sing if you like this list.