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10 Books Featuring Witches and Magic

There is something about witches that have always fascinated me since childhood. I remember checking out books from the library and buying books at book fairs that focused on witches, their history, and their spells. In fairytales, witches have a bad reputation because of their power. But this power is what makes them appealing and fearless to women. With fall in full swing and 2020 still being horrible, here is a list of witchy reads (in no particular order) to curl up with a blanket, a cup of hot beverage, and revel in your power, fur babies optional.

1. Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman- I saw the 1998 film adaptation, starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman, and read the book last year. The sisters, Sally and Gillian Owen, have always been outsiders but they are bound by magic. The book focuses on their childhood, their aunts, their relationships, and what sisterhood means.

2. The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One by Amanda Lovelace- This anthology of poems focuses on feminism, empowerment, identity, self-love, and fighting the patriarchy. It also explores themes of sisterhood, pays homage to various other literary texts, and even the 2017 Women‘s March is written about. Women are encouraged to stand up, reclaim labels, and control their stories.

3. Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor- This fantasy young adult novel is the first in the duology. Twelve-year-old American-born Sunny Nwazue lives in Nigeria. She is Black, albino, an athlete, and discovers that she has magical abilities. Weaving the Nigerian legends and stories of the Leopard People, this novel focuses on her life, her covent with three others, and how the group tracks down a serial killer.

4. The Near Witch by V. E. Schwab- Schwab’s debut book features Lexi Harris, a tracker in the village of Near, and her adventures in tracking down the children who suddenly start disappearing. Exacerbated by the appearance of a stranger, Lexi tries to find the children, when she realizes that the bedtime story of the Near witch is actually more. With themes of magic, patriarchy, and the balance of nature, this historical fiction with a romance is a short sweet read.

5. The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson- This is the October FBC pick. The protagonist, Immanuelle Moore, is on a search to understand her mother, who was in a relationship with an outsider. Immanuelle finds her mother’s journal and tries to change the restrictive conditions of her settlement, Bethel. With themes of horror and witchcraft, this book is also discussed by the author in FBC’s podcast episode.

6. These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling- This young adult novel has a queer witch, Hannah as the protagonist, who must team up with her ex-girlfriend, Veronica, to hunt a deadly Blood Witch. Other complications include a potential new love interest, Morgan. There is a wide range of sexuality of the characters which is refreshing and naturally woven in the story.

7. Sabrina, the Teenage Witch by Kelly Thompson and illustrated by Veronica Fish- This graphic novel is the first in the series. Like the other stories, Sabrina is navigating high school in Greendale, while juggling her studies, competing love interests, and fighting a group of monsters. The illustrations are gorgeous and fun and I liked the diverse students in the novel.

8. The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow- In an alternative version of 1893, women’s rights and magic are outlawed. Seeking to change this, the three Eastwood sisters of New Salem want to change that. Uniting with other women, they use magic to fight against the political system and reclaim their rights.

9. Circe by Madeline Miller- In Greek mythology, Circe was a nymph who was banished to the island of Aiaia for using magic to turn a romantic rival into the monster, Scylla. She hones her craft of witchcraft and natural medicines. Told from Circe’s perspective, this novel features her life and the visitors to her island, including Odysseus (of Homer’s Odyssey fame).

10. We Were Witches by Ariel Gore- Despite not being typically ‘witchy’ or ‘magical,’ this part memoir-part fiction, set in the nineties, is an interesting and short read. A single mom at nineteen, Ariel feels shame at her childhood, family, her body, her art, and her motherhood. Heartbreaking but also uplifting, the book is sprinkled with witchcraft and quotes from bell hooks, Adrienne Rich, Gloria Anzaldua, and others.

Hopefully, these books will help you get in a magical and witch mood where you feel inspired and empowered to take on the patriarchy and share a bond of sisterhood, well beyond Halloween.

Rashmila likes to read books by/about women/people of color. She prefers fiction to reality. A dog parent and word ninja, she volunteers for non-profits and is multilingual. Favorite genre- contemporary literary fiction.

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