Member Reviews

This book was everything I expected it to be!

You have a sense of Dracula mixed with Beauty and the Beast, just in the settings alone. A massive castle turned into a college?

A young woman who has dealt with a strange mother, gets invited to an exclusive college at the age of 21. This woman has been raised as a recluse, homeschooled, with minimal human interaction for fear of being taken away from her mother; Corvina has always been the odd one out.

Always having "Mo" as her guide, she reluctantly accepts the invitation to Verenmore. The castle has a dark gloom about it, and a mysterious professor that everyone has named the "Silver-haired devil."

Corvina can't seem to escape the glare of Mr. Deverell, a man everyone has warned her against.

Does she go running away from him in the forbidden forest or does she end up running into the hauntings that have plagued her entire stay at Verenmore?

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I am blown away by this book. The atmosphere, the tension, the mystery.... Gothikana had me in a choke hold for the entire 6 hours it took me to read it. I need more!

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Publication date: January 23, 2024

Gothikana is a dark academia gothic mystery by RuNyx. This is my first book by this author and I really enjoyed the writing.

Corvina Clemm receives an admission letter from the secluded university of Verenmore perched on the mountains in an old castle. The letter comes at a perfect time in her life when she is a little lost about her future.

Corvina joins the campus and makes a small group of friends where she learns of the mysteries of the castle, the grounds, and ancient rituals and magic that have plagued the school for decades.

Vad Deverell is Corvinas English professor, a former student finalizing his thesis while teaching the junior students. Vad is off limits, there is a no tolerance rule around teacher/student relationships but Corvina cannot deny the connection she seems to have with him.

Vad and Corvina struggle to stay away from each other and deny their growing feelings the ancient curse surrounding the castle grounds continues to unsettle the students, especially when one of their own takes his life.

As the students come to gripes with the aftermath of a friends suicide, Corvina struggles with voices in her head she thought were long buried. Can Vad and Corvina uncover the secrets of Venmore before it’s too late?

I really enjoyed Corvina and Vlads story. Corvina was vulnerable and Vlads ferocious determination to protect her was incredible. I’ll also be adding Vlad to my list of morally grey book boyfriends! This was a great story (4 stars for me!) but I highly recommend reviewing trigger warnings before reading: suicide, mental illness, cult references etc.

Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

#NetGalley #RuNyx #gothikana

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I love dark academia and books with Beauty and the Beast vibes, but this book sadly did not deliver for me. I enjoyed the setting; it felt delightfully spooky and cozy at the same time. What turned me off was the writing- it didn’t feel developed and came off as a bit juvenile.

DNF @ 20%

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for access to an arc in exchange for an honest review.

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Actual 3.5
*Mild spoilers throughout review*
This book has SO MUCH potential to be mindblowingly awesome, but I felt a bit let down by how it all ended.
Our main character, Corvina Clemm, was raised in almost isolation by a single, schizophrenic mother and after her mother is institutionalized she is invited to apply to Verenmore University, a spooky university on a mountain with tons of missing persons attached to its history. Despite her less than traditional upbringing, she is surprisingly well adjusted even though she also occasionally hears voices in her head. She is characterized by her purple eyes, her love of maxi skirts, and not liking underwear (? - this felt like a weird detail, especially in how it was presented outright in the exposition since we could have learned in a more natural way later on during one of the many spicy scenes).
Corvina falls into instalust with her English teacher, Vad Deverell, and while I don't mind/usually like teacher/student forbidden relationships (especially when they are both consenting adults) this didn't really feel all that forbidden or taboo because: 1. this was not the first time he had hooked up with a student, and 2. there were really no stakes or consequences if their relationship was discovered.
This book is being marketed as a dark academic romance, but it felt like more of a dark academia aesthetic over a paranormal mystery. It was a very fast-paced read, which I liked, but I felt like it left so many big questions unanswered about Corvina and how and why she had a connection/insight into the missing students and it was dismissed as some things are better left a mystery. Did she truly have some kind of supernatural connection to Verenmore or was it just the voices in her head because of her genetic predisposition to schizophrenia from both of her parents - apparently we'll never know...

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I received an e-ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Gothikana is a very good dark romance. I tend to find dark romances either too mafia like or too barely legal or flat out illegal. Gothikana managed to be a dark romance that was more forbidden romance, and kind of kinky. It didn’t give the ick with a crazy age, gap or uncomfortable power dynamic. Although our MMC is a teacher our FMC is an older student, and somehow the way it was written it didn’t seem as gross to me as some teacher student romances are in dark and regular romance novels. MMC is both a senior student who gets to teach a handful of classes and FMC is a student that came into college later than most people do. She’s 21 and everyone else is 18. This book is VERY atmospheric and has an intriguing mystery. It has ghosts and a modern heroine who dresses in Victorian-type clothes so she looks like a ghost herself. I’m here for this aesthetic and the atmosphere. However, some of it’s a little much. For instance, the constant referencing to our MMC‘s mercurial eyes because he has silver eyes. Every time I read the phrase, his mercurial eyes, his mercury eyes I rolled MY eyes so hard. There’s a lot of emphasis on his silver eyes and her purple eyes so if that’s gonna bother you and take you out of the story, don’t read this book. However, I did enjoy the story, and despite some cringe moments that are very fan-fiction-y ,I think this book is fantastic and I want to purchase it to reread in the future. The author clearly took inspiration from things like Edgar Allan Poe (our main character’s name for one thing) and it definitely gave off Wuthering Heights vibes. If you like: Victorian Gothic, ghostly, rainy, castle on a hill, tortured main characters, might just be crazy vibes this book is 100% for you. It legitimately made me want to wander around in a castle in a long white nightgown with a candle following the eerie sounds of music.

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“𝙏𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙞𝙨 𝙡𝙪𝙨𝙩,” 𝙨𝙝𝙚 𝙬𝙝𝙞𝙨𝙥𝙚𝙧𝙚𝙙.
“𝙉𝙤, 𝘾𝙤𝙧𝙫𝙞𝙣𝙖. 𝙄’𝙫𝙚 𝙠𝙣𝙤𝙬𝙣 𝙡𝙪𝙨𝙩. 𝙏𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙞𝙨 𝙨𝙤𝙢𝙚𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙬𝙤𝙧𝙨𝙚. 𝙏𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙞𝙨 𝙖 𝙗𝙖𝙧𝙗𝙖𝙧𝙞𝙘 𝙣𝙚𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙤 𝙥𝙤𝙨𝙨𝙚𝙨𝙨, 𝙩𝙤 𝙚𝙡𝙞𝙢𝙞𝙣𝙖𝙩𝙚, 𝙩𝙤 𝙤𝙬𝙣. 𝙏𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙞𝙨 𝙢𝙖𝙙𝙣𝙚𝙨𝙨.”

“Gothikana” is the story of Corvina and Vad. Corvina is an outcast, a girl with violet eyes who reads tarot cards, loves the nighttime, and hears voices in her head. She receives an invitation to attend the University of Verenmore, a college built on a mountain that caters to students with troubling pasts. There is where she meets Vad, her professor. He’s a mystery, a man of many secrets, including those of Verenmore, a man Corvina can’t stay away from. Like a siren, they’re drawn to one another. A connection so strong it’s inevitable. But as the voices in Corvina’s head lead her to unveiling the secrets of Verenmore, including the passing of students, Vad must protect her from the darkness that surrounds the college before it engulfs her.

This book has it all - a dark gothic romance filled with mystery and suspense on every page. A book filled with twists that will keep you guessing even after you’ve read it. It is written in 3rd person, primarily of Corvina’s POV. I’m excited to see more from this world and hopefully will unlock more secrets of Verenmore. If you love the student/teacher trope with a twist, then I highly recommend giving this a try!

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Thank you NetGalley and Bramble for the ARC! Gothikana is a blend of dark academia and romance with a touch of fantasy. Corvina Clemm is surprised by a sudden invitation to a private university (with a full-ride scholarship). As an older student (and one who was homeschooled), she can't understand how or why she's been given this offer, but alone and adrift, she accepts the offer. Once at Verenmore Univeristy, Corvina discovers that the school has a dark and tainted past. What or who is killing the students? Above all, Corvina can't help but be attracted to Vad Deverell, a graduate student and part-time professor. Gothikana is an elaborate (and at times a bit over-the-top) tale with an interesting twist.

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I tried so hard but I couldn't get into the writing. The writing felt really immature to me and I never quite got onboard with it. DNF @34%

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The Facts: Dark academia vibes, gothic romance, student/professor relationship, insta attraction, college,

Corvina receives an invitation to go to a prestigious and mysterious college and there she meets hottie teacher/student Vad and a whole bunch of ghostly activity and mayhem.
This book was THAT GIRL. I was in love the whole time, the writing, the storyline, the characters, THE SMUT! This was such a breath of fresh air. Corvina was such a cool FMC who was such a badass. Vad was mysterious, sexy, and overprotective af. Their relationship fit so well. They were like magnets being pulled together, and the sexual tension was immaculate. The quotes in this book were phenomenal and had me choking for breaths every single time. I'm telling you, I adored this book, and now I will read everything RuNyx writes.

I devoured this book as it devoured me; that's how good it was.

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They say curiosity killed the cat, but the saying remains open on the manner of death. In this case, I am the cat, the murderer was Gothikana, and I was ever-so-slowly tortured to death by a girl who isn’t like other girls and her distinct inability to stop calling her secret boyfriend “the silver-eyed devil”. Despite the author’s best efforts, the characters were as edgy as mall goths getting their piercings at Claire’s. The writing vacillated between chunky and cheesy. I knew I would have to suspend my disbelief in this book, but I was not prepared to also forgo logic nor was I prepared to forgo a basic understanding of human behavior. This plot points were random and disjointed. The relationship itself was fatalistic and chock full of dialogue that no actual person would ever say out loud, especially to another human being. And the pet names! Cringe!!

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This was a decent read! Not my favorite but thought the story was interesting. Wasn’t a fan on how fast the MC fell in love, but that’s a matter of personal taste.

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I have been seeing this book all over BookTok and Reddit so I really appreciated the opportunity to pick up the ARC. It was unfortunately not for me but I think it will appeal to readers new to dark academia and fantasy fiction.

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I like indulgent reads as much as anyone and looked forward to a gothic fantasy, but any pleasure was severely disrupted by a lack of editing.

Some highlights, starting and ending with my favorites:
● “They were in their winter home in the snowy mountains, a large cottage-mansion.” (I don’t know why this is, but sure, I’d take one)
● “‘We saw something,’ she reminisced, remembering the long silhouette they had encountered that day.” (She breasted boobily down the street…)
● Try arranging your fingers like this, I dare you: “He extended his palm to help her up and Corvina studied his hand, that large, beautiful hand. His palm was calloused, the fingers slightly bent, especially the middle and little finger.” (My partner calls this the Vulcan shocker).
● This is very oddly worded and is the first thing that made me wonder if this was run through Google Translate or written by AI. “Aren’t you a student yourself, Mr. Deverell?” His silver eyes glinted in the light from the window. “A doctorate student, yes. I’m completing my thesis this year.” (“Doctoral student” is the common usage.)
● Funnily enough, having the characters point out obvious plot holes does not meaningfully address those plot holes: “I don’t even understand what the point of the masquerade ball is,” Ethan huffed. “Like, sure, it’s a ball, but you know there have been incidents every fucking time. Why not make it less easy for people to vanish?” Slight silence ensued after that. Corvinna looked at the clouds, at all the shapes they made in the blue sky. The one she was starting at looked like a squirrel with a nut in its hand.”
● Proof that no thesauri were harmed in the making of this book: “‘She needs to rest in a medical room,’ Dr. Larkin, the residing medical doctor on campus, interrupted from the door.” (Infirmary. It’s called an infirmary. Or sick room. This is used REPEATEDLY and I find it maddening)
It’s like Interpol but stupider: “‘But he’s not just any stranger,’ Erica told her conspiratorially, cupping her mug of coffee with both hands. ‘He’s one of Verenmore’s alumni. He graduated and joined the International Investigation Squad.’”
● Here’s some proof about that stupidity: “‘From the decomposition, I’d estimate she died anywhere between the last five years and a few months,’ he spoke, his eyes scanning the body.” (as I type this, I notice how odd it is to use “spoke” instead of “said”)
● Was this even edited? “A deep burgundy, almost dark purple dress hung from a hanger on one of the open windowpanes, a color so deep it shimmered with purple and black, its sleeves full and made of some kind of lace, its neckline a plunging V that went almost to the waistline, a slit up the side of the skirt that went to the upper thigh area.”
● Followed by the following sentences: “She had never seen something so exquisite. It was her in a gown.” (I think I get the point that’s trying to be made– that this dress embodies the character– but what a weird way to put it.)
● Finally, the love interest is named Vad. This is so silly that I first thought the book misspelled the name the first time we see it. The book repeatedly references Dracula, and I guess the author wanted to make it a little subtler for readers.

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Unfortunately this one wasn’t for me. I wasn’t a fan of the teacher/student relationship which was the primary focus of the book.

The non-romance part of the story was interesting enough. I can definitely see how people will have fun reading it.

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I was immediately drawn into a world shrouded in gothic mystery and romance. The story unfolds in the haunting University of Verenmore, an ancient castle brimming with secrets. I was captivated by Corvina Clemm, an intriguing protagonist struggling with her mother's loss, and Vad Deverell, the enigmatic professor. Their forbidden love story is masterfully intertwined with a chilling, century-old mystery. RuNyx’s poetic and immersive writing style transported me straight into the eerie halls of Verenmore. The sensory-rich story and the vividly portrayed characters, especially the castle with its own eerie personality, left me spellbound. This novel isn't just a read; it's an experience, blending romance, mystery, and gothic elements in a way that completely mesmerized me, even though there are some plot holes, and sometimes the story could've been edited to keep the pacing and make stronger interactions between characters.

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I unfortunately had to DNF. While I feel and know a lot of readers will and do love this book, I didn't love the author's writing style.

Throughout the book, it seemed as if the author couldn't decide on the personality of any given character. For example, when we first meet Troy, he's introduced as an asshole. But 50 pages later, with seemingly no character development, he described as one of the kindest people our protagonist knows.

Another reason this book isn't for me is because I personally don't like when our FMC is a virgin, knowing her first sexual encounter will be more than vanilla. I just can't wrap my head around it and it pulls me out of the story.

This is a dark gothic romance that readers will love. It just wasn't for me

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Myth: 4/5

I picked this one up for the vibes, and I didn’t regret it. The book is advertised as the eternal romance of Beauty and the Beast and the gothic suspense of Dracula. I highly agree with both, and they were blended beautifully.

Magic: NA

This was more in the traditional vein of dark academia. Think occultist vibes, the idea of the paranormal.

Overall: 4/5

With dark academia themes that call back to The Secret History, this gothic castle-turned-school brings a lot of traditional genre themes with a sensual romance.

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I don't think I am the right audience for this book. I have discovered I'm not a dark academia fan.

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This was a quick read. It reminded me of a hybrid of Harrow's Starling House mixed with a little Jane Eyre and 50 Shades. Definitely room for more character and narrative development but it kept my interest.

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