Juicy and dark, Rosemary Hennigan’s The Favorites is a standout dark academia thriller, with shades of Donna Tartt’s modern classic The Secret History and Emerald Fennell’s revenge fantasy film Promising Young Woman. Set at a Philadelphia law school in the days before and after the 2016 presidential election, The Favorites follows a bright young student dead set on avenging her older sister’s demise.
Jessica Mooney-Flynn enters Franklin University with one goal: ruin professor Jay Crane. As “Jessie Mooney,” the liberal Dublin native is accepted to Crane’s extremely select Law and Literature course and immediately begins her quest to become one of his infamous “favorites”: a status that is traditionally a gateway to prestigious clerkships, job opportunities and, if Jessica’s beloved older sister Audrey is any indication, a passionate affair. Back in Dublin, Audrey was the visiting professor’s favorite right before she dropped out of law school, self-isolated from her family and set out traveling, only to perish in a bus accident. Armed with text and email exchanges between the two—the last of which was Audrey’s missive “You know what you did”—Jessica seeks to entrap Crane. But what will happen when she too falls under his spell?
Hennigan knows the cloistered, clannish law school world firsthand: She studied the subject at both Trinity College, Dublin and the University of Pennsylvania. Jessica is a firecracker of a protagonist, intent on vigilante justice while still mourning the loss of her sister and fighting her growing attraction to an undeniably charismatic predator. Thanks to Hennigan’s strong voice and full embrace of the bumpy, twisty nature of retribution and revenge, The Favorites positively sings.