YA Books Set at Boarding Schools

A photograph of an old gothic building against a blue and white sky. In front, black text on white rectangles reads: "Our Favorite YA Books set in Boarding Schools"

Head back to school with Brilliant Books!

It's that time of the year again!  Some students have just started classes, and the rest are staring down the end of their summer holidays.  But of course, the school year brings its own share of adventures.  There are new friendships, new opportunities, and plenty to learn, both inside the classroom and out of it!

In celebration of the new school year, we're highlighting some YA favorites that take place in boarding school.  Whether you're in the mood for a heartfelt coming of age story or an exciting adventure complete with magic, mystery, and mayhem, you'll find it here.  


Book cover: A Study in Charlotte. The cover is dark blue, with the text scrawled in white handwriting. Around the titles are small illustrations in bright blue and coral: a girl holding a magifying glass to a tree, a students standing in front of a multistory building, and a snake weaving through the landscape. Blue ivy curls through each small illustration.

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

The first book in a witty, suspenseful new series about a brilliant new crime-solving duo: the teen descendants of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson.  It doesn't seem like Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are meant to be friend, but when a classmate at their Connecticuit boarding school, the two are pulled into a thrilling new mysteryand each others' lives.


Book cover: Truly Devious. Behind the white, handwritten title is a pattern of dark leaves over a blue background. Across the top, orange text reads: "Intricately plotted. Compulsively readable -- John Green."Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists.  It is also shrouded in a centuries-old mystery that remains unsolved: one which first year student (and true-crime aficionado) Stevie Bell is determined to solve. But when death revisits Ellingham, it starts to feel like the past is crawling out of its grave...


Book cover: Ace of Spades. The cover is stylized like a playing card, with two faces rising out of the cover's center, pointed in opposite direction. At the top is a feminine face with medium brown skin curly hair pulled back into a bun. The lower (and upside-down) face has darker skin and a more masculine face, with cropped curly hair. Both wear gold earrings and identical blue and white shirts, and look towards the viewer. Behind thee faces is a panel of red with argyle pattern, around which is a blue border and the text "How do you stop an unknown enemy?"Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

When two Niveus Private Academy students, Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo, are selected to be part of the elite school’s senior class prefects, it looks like their year is off to an amazing start.  But shortly after their selection, the anonymous "Aces" started revealing their secrets.  As Aces shows no sign of stopping, what seemed like a sick prank quickly turns into an incredibly dangerous game...


Book cover: Carry on. The illustration shows two boys standing in front of a purple dragon. The boy on the left has peach skin and reddish hair, and holds a sword out. The boy on the left has messy black hair and almost white skin, and holds out a bone wand. At the top, text reads: "A Triumph. - Lev Grossman"Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who's ever been chosen.  At least, that's what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he's probably right.  Simon's life is in shambles (with an absent mentor, a failing relationship, and a magic-destroying monster wearing Simon's face!), and Baz would be having a field day if he was here, but he hasn't turned up this year.  In fact, Baz is nowhere to be found...



Book cover: A Lesson in Vengeance. Behind the white title are purple flowers and cobwebs, in front of a black background.

A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee

The history of Dalloway School lives in the bones it was built on.  Five violent deaths in the first ten years of its existence.  Sometimes you can still smell the blood on the air.  But when two girls start investigating deaths, the past threatens to invade the present...


Book cover: In the Wild Light. The Text is scrawled in a black handwritten font, across streaks of orange and yellow.

In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner

Life in a small Appalachian town is not easy.  Cash lost his mother to an opioid addiction and his Papaw is dying slowly from emphysema.  But when his best friend Delaney manages to secure both of them full rides to an elite prep school in Connecticut, Cash has to chose between his love for Delaney and his love for his grandparents—and the town that raised him.


Book cover: Winger. Cover art features a photograph of a young man in a school uniform. He has light peach skin and reddish hair. Over his left eyebrow is a stitched scar, and his nose is plugged with a bloody tissue.Winger by Andrew Smith

Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids.  He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team.  And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.  But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart...



Book cover: When All the Girls Are Sleeping.  The title's curly font hovers above a dark blue illustration of a girl holding a finger over her lips.When All the Girls Are Sleeping by Emily Aarsenault

Haley attends Windham-Farnswood Academy, a beautiful and prestigious school with a big secret: each January, the senior dorm is visited by the Winter Girl. This year, the Winter Girl's visit coincides with the one-year anniversary of Haley's best friend Taylor—and Haley's realization that Taylor might have been murdered.  As Haley digs into what really happened last year, her search keeps bringing her back to the Winter Girl.



Book cover: Daughter of Smoke and Bone. A brightly colored woman holds up her hands, each with glowing eyes on the palm. Her face is bright blue and purple, and her eyes glow pink, against a stark black background.

Daugher of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.  In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.  And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war...



Book cover: Wilder Girls. Illustration of a light skinned girl with chin-length brown hair in front of a painted green background. Her face is presented in strips: a ribbon coiling up from  her white shirt. In between the strips of her ribbon face, a flower grows. Green text in the bottom left reads: "They told us to wait and stay alive"

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

It started slow.  First the teachers died one by one.  Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign.  Now, eighteen months into quarantine, Bryatt has gone missing, and Hetty will do anything to find her. Even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence.  Even if it means uncovering truths she never wanted to learn...


Book cover: Killing November. Cover art features a red, cursive title, and a croup of people. A young woman in a white shirt and black skirt stands in front of a couch, her hand on her hip, looking straight at the camera. Around her, six other people, all dress in black and white, look towards her.Killing November by Adriana Mather

The Academy Absconditi has no internet, an archaic eye-for-an-eye punishment system, and a student body full of assassins, spies, and impersonators in training.  November doesn't know how an ordinary girl like her fits into the school's complicated legacy.  But when a student is murdered, she'll need to separate her enemies from her allies before the crime gets pinned or her...or she becomes the killer's next victim.


Book cover: We Set the Dark on Fire.  Behind the text is an ombre pattern ranging from blue (at the top) through purple to red at the bottom. The title is decorative and black, surrounded by black details such as flowers, birds, and flames. At the top, small text reads: "let rebellion burn"We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained upper class life in an incredibly polarized society.  Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but she is sitting on a secret that could destroy her future: her pedigree is a lie.  When she is asked to spy for a resistance group, she must choose whether to hold on to the privilege her parents fought for or to give up everything to fight for equality—and a chance at forbidden love.


Book cover: Don't Breathe a Word. Two feminine silhouettes overlap in front of a bright orange background. Two beams of pink-orange cut through the figures, cutting from the top corners to the bottom center.Don't Breathe a Word by Jordyn Taylor

In the present day, outsider Eva is invited to join an elite secret society at Hardwick Preperatory Academy.  In 1962, Connie volunteers to participate a test of Hardwick's nuclear fallout shelter.  Seperated by decades yet inexorably intertwined, Eva and Connie both realize that Hardwick has more secrets than they every realized...


Book cover: They Wish They Were Us. The title is composed of six golden necklaces laid across a dark green, plaid cloth. Each necklace has a gold chain stretching between the edges of the cover, with the pendant being a word of the title in cursive. The final chain (with the word "us") is broken, the word askew, and red blotches spatter the necklace and the bottom of the fabric.They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman

In Gold Coast, Long Island, everything from the expensive downtown shops to the manicured beaches, to the pressed uniforms of Jill Newman and her friends, looks perfect.  But as Jill found out three years ago, nothing is as it seems.  Now, in Jill's senior year, an old mystery is ripped wide open.  And as she digs deeper, her dreams of the perfect year begin to crumble as she finds her friendships—and her future—in jeopardy.


Book cover: Redemption Prep. Cover art features a yellow and white neon sign on a stone wall. In addition to the title and author, the sign features an open book and twin moons, as well as a graduation cap.

Redemption Prep by Samuel Miller

Emma stands out, which is hard to do at Redemption Prep, a school where every student has been handpicked to attend its remote campus in the forest of Utah.  So when she goes missing in plain sight during mass, everyone notices.  Emma’s disappearance ignites an investigation, but as the search continues, the students start to realize that they’re not the only ones trying to hide something.  Redemption Prep has secrets too, and Emma could be the key to finding out the truth . . . if anyone can find her.


Book cover: A Deadly Education. The cover is black with a gold border, gold text, and a gold line illustration in the center: an open book out of which a shaft rise. At its top the image of an open eye, with lines radiating out from it, and around the eye is a circle detailing the stages of the moon. Around this illustration, tiny golden stars twinkle in the black of the cover.A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

El attends a school for the magically gifted—a school with monsters instead of teachers, and where survival is never guaranteed.  But the most dangerous thing in this place of darkness and death might just be El herself...