Are you looking for witchy books this season? From witches grounded in a deep Wiccan past to whimsical beasties with powers, witches take on many roles in modern day literature. I always wondered what was borderline cultural appropriation as soon as authors bring in the Wiccan religion. I’d love to know your thoughts. Then, we watch steamy episodes of HBO’s True Blood with a different type of perverted witchy cult juxtaposed with naïve and endearing teenage witch coming of age stories. Plus, have you started the Chilling Adventures of New Sabrina yet?
Below are titles—all of which I have read and recommend—for adults and teens looking for books about witches. In some of these titles, witches are upfront and center, Hocus Pocus style. In others, these powerful cacklers play minor but necessary background roles. Here are TUL’s top 10 wickedly witchy books to get you in the wickedly witchy spirit any time of the year:
10 Wickedly Witchy Books
Adult Witchy Books
While I am not typically a fan of romance novels, I love a good vamp and witch love story. TUL secret: The Wizard of Oz terrifies me. Those flying monkeys and little green dudes seriously freak me out. How this is still a popular children’s movie is beyond me. However, Wicked the musical brought me to my feet, and the book is a classic. Then lets consider adding witches to Jan Karon’s small town or study the symbolism of witches in Shakespeare. These are my 5 witchy book recommendations for adults with both new and old titles also including some series in case you want a year-long+ plus adventure.
1. The Color of Fear by Wendy Wanner
A newer 2018 title by an indie author, The Color of Fear intertwines Wiccan culture and religion with a modern day murder mystery. Rachel’s life has been full of tragic deaths, which as they build in number, seems suspiciously intentional. In a small town world full of old money and waspy secrets, Rachel must uncover the clandestine lies that tie all of these murders together. With strong, hell-bent women, affairs, suicides, murders, water phobias, and unplanned pregnancies, there is only one answer: the presence of witchcraft. More than your average cozy mystery, The Color of Fear focus on relationships and political corruption in a Jan Karon town meets witches kind of description. There is more of a magical realism component than the magic itself, and this title is a murder mystery versus a fantasy. See the full review here.
Find your copy: Amazon
2. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
When books I love become TV series, I about lose my mind in excitement. A Discovery Witches is no different and is the first book in the bestselling All Souls Trilogy. I have yet to read the rest of the series—note the books are incredibly captivating but long—but the first book hooked me with its love story. Witches are not supposed to trust vampires. Diana Bishop, a descendant of a witchy past, discovers a coveted and magically essential text. With the trifecta of an intriguing man–mysterious, deadly, and presumably gorgeous—Diana must learn and accept more about her own witchy dealings while helping the magical community. Fantasy, romance, and mystery all tied into one will keep readers digging deeper into the hundreds of pages and wanting more.
3. Wicked: Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
Most of us have seen or at least know about the Tony-award-winning Broadway musical, Wicked, based loosely on this book. Although I remember finding more dissimilarity across the book and play, I thoroughly enjoyed both for their satire and imagery. Truly though, welcome to my personal hell. Readers enter the world of Oz. Shiver. Yet, this Wizard of Oz story is brilliantly told from a different perspective. Wicked is more about the Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba, and how she came to an unfair and untimely demise. With a rough upbringing and education with the spoiled and popular Galinda (Glinda), we realize that maybe the Wicked Witch isn’t so wickedly evil after all. Maybe she is just a social activist with strong political views. Political fiction is a genre, right?
4. Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse Series Book 1) by Charlaine Harris
This series is a bit of a stretch if you solely desire witches, but I promise that you will find witches and a plethora of similarly fantastical beings scattered throughout the Sookie Stackhouse series. I have read all 15 titles, but I could not get through more than one season of True Blood. It’s HBO, guys. For those who are worried about the crazy sexual cults and violence from the TV series, I promise you the books are much different.
Harris is the goddess of world building, placing her mind-reading protagonist at the heart of it all. Sookie is not your average bartender and trouble finds her everywhere. Find mixed species romance, vampire wars, wicked witch covens, cuddly shape shifters, best friend drama, and a society filled with hate and prejudice. The perfect lighter fantasy read for your tastes. Well written, the entire series adds peanut butter to your fluff. Did I mention that you could find copies for 3 cents on Amazon. A worthy investment.
5. Macbeth by William Shakespeare
The English major in me has to obsess over Macbeth and remind you of this timeless Shakespearean classic. Geeky, high school Christine loved Macbeth and cannot even count the number of times that I’ve read this lyrical tragedy as an adult. Set in Scotland with a moral about the destructive greed and need for power, we watch the new King of Scotland fall. Macbeth murders his predecessor to acquire the throne and is basically overcome with paranoia on the brink of insanity. Murder begets murder. Three witches had prophesied Macbeth’s haunting undertakings and watch his chaotic path of destruction throughout the play. For literature lovers, this one is for you. P.S. Rumor has it that the word ‘Macbeth’ is cursed and surrounded by misfortune if said within the theater. You might want to just call it The Scottish Play.
Other Books Lists You Might Enjoy:
Young Adult Witchy Books
As a 30-something-year-old, I love young adult books. Many times, they are even better written than adult titles. From sadistic witches to beasties with powers, these are my favorite witchy books for teens and adults. All five lean more toward the fantastical side of fiction.
6. Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd
Imagine a Cinderella story gone dark. Add in some Harry Potter elements such as a witch war and characters treated like servants when in reality, they are the most powerful beings alive. Transformed from animals into humans, Anouck and her friends work for a cruel mistress with other plans for their futures. When Mada Vittora is murdered, though, they are still not free. If no other powerful witch will cast their human spell, back to beasties they will go. Shepherd builds a socio-economic world rich with royalty, power, and corruption. The first in an upcoming series, the ending is anything but clean and settled. Find the full review here.
7. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
Part of the Emma Doyle Trilogy, meet Gemma Doyle, a young girl with abilities to see into the future. Shipped off to an eerie boarding school with a deadly history, Gemma no longer has a mother and is followed by a mysterious boy in the woods. I see some signs of romance happening too. Set in England in the 1890’s, Bray successfully pairs typical boarding school drama with a more historic epoch. Powerful and spritely girls with unchartered and naïve magic are a terrifying combination. Historical fiction meets fantastical witches in this Victorian mystery. Prepare for otherworldly dimensions and powers that need reigning in.
8. The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw
Supernatural teen books are all the rage lately, and The Wicked Deep, does not disappoint with witches, soul possession, and a little romance. Every season, the Swan Sisters haunt the town of Sparrow to avenge their drowning as accused witches. The legend goes that during Swan Season, the girls possess three female bodies and romance and lure three boys out to sea. I am sure that you can guess that these boys are not returning, ever. A spectator sport for tourists, this year is no different as Penny and Bo both attempt to stay alive and uninhabited. Unfortunately, trust no one, and Ernshaw adds a few twists and turns into this fantasy thriller. If you love ghostly witch stories, Hocus Pocus, or Salem, MA, this book is for you. Check out the full review here.
9. Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter
CW: Violence and death to teenagers (similar to The Hunger Games)
One of my creepiest and most murderous favorites, Vassa in the Night is the retelling of the similarly bizarre Russian folktale Vassilia the Beautiful. Vassa is the victim of an evil stepfamily and carries a little wooden doll, Erg, to protect her. On the quest for light bulbs, Vassa meets a sadistic witch with an affinity for murder. Babs loves to chop off the heads of her teenage shoplifters and stakes them outside her enchanted store. Not everyone is a criminal, but Babs doesn’t care. Will Vassa survive her temporary imprisonment with Babs, and can she save her friends as well as her entire Brooklyn suburb? An urban fantasy woven with folktale and suspense, I promise that Vassa might be one of your weirdest YA reads yet.
10. Conversion by Katherine Howe
Private schools and boarding schools are the perfect place for witches, right? I have no idea why, but these settings—like Harry Potter—always call for magic and general hysteria. At St. Joan’s Academy, the popular and high achieving girls start to literally lose it. Is the mental and health decline due to pressure and stress or is something more happening? There are seizures, accusations, and inexplicable hair loss. Only after connecting scenarios with The Crucible does Colleen begin to think that the Salem witch trials of the past are creeping their way into the present. Suspenseful and chilling with a touch of historical fiction, Howe creates modern day witch trials.
I hope that you found a new witchy title to read. I’d love to know your favorite witch books in the comments. While I cannot handle killers and gore, witches are way more my speed.
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