Posted by: montclairlibrary | October 23, 2020

Witchy Books

Witchy novels, a list by the Friends of Montclair Library

Witches pop up in all sorts of stories and settings, not just horror stories and fairy tales – from the halls of academia to Gilded Age New York, from ancient Greece to modern Salem, from literary fiction to fantasy, from scary to romantic to funny. This list is a mix of adult and YA books; there are a lot of good YA witch books, maybe because teenagers, like witches, often feel like outsiders. Books about witches also seem to be awesomely inclusive, so if you’re looking for books that embrace a range of cultures, gender identities and body types, you’ve come to the right genre.

(Quoted descriptions are from the books’ publishers unless otherwise noted.)

We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry (FIC BARRY)
In 1989, “a high school field hockey team discovers that the witchcraft of their Salem forebears may be the key to a winning season.” This book is “dense with ’80s iconography–from Heathers to Big Hair” and celebrates “teen girldom in all its glory” and variety.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (FIC HARKNESS)
When Yale historian and reluctant witch Diana Bishop discovers a magical manuscript, she attracts the attention of vampires, including the menacing but very attractive Matthew Clairmont. Also a TV series.

The Once & Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow (FIC HARROW)
Witchcraft and women’s suffrage! “In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box. But when the Eastwood sisters — James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna — join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement.”

Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman (FIC HOFFMAN)
The new pre-prequel to the much-loved Practical Magic and its prequel, The Rules of Magic tells the “the story of Maria Owens, accused of witchcraft in Salem, and matriarch of a line of the amazing Owens women and men.”

Circe by Madeline Miller (FIC MILLER)
Miller fleshes out the story of the witch Circe from The Odyssey as the daughter of the sun god, banished from immortal society, hones her powers and interacts with a broad cast of characters from Greek mythology, from Daedalus to Medea.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas (YA FIC THOMAS)
“In Yadriel’s traditional Latinx family, women become brujas and practice healing magic, and the men become brujos and help spirits to the land of the dead. Yadriel is a man, but his family refuses to let him complete the ritual to become a brujo because he’s trans. With the help of his friend Maritza, Yadriel completes the ritual without his family’s knowledge. When Yadriel’s cousin is murdered afterward, he and Maritza try to find out why — but in doing so, they accidentally raise the ghost of Julian Diaz, another murdered teen. As the three try to help Julian and discover what happened to Yadriel’s cousin, Yadriel and Julian begin to fall in love. This fun and delightful young adult contemporary fantasy recently became the first novel written by a trans author to make it onto the New York Times bestseller list.” (Buzzfeed)

Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas book 1) by Zoraida Cordova (ebook, YA)
“Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she’s not sure she can trust, but who may be Alex’s only chance at saving her family.”

The Babysitters Coven by Kate Williams (YA FIC WILLIAMS)
“After new student Cassandra Heaven joins seventeen-year-old Esme Pearl’s babysitters club, the girls learn that being a babysitter really means a heroic lineage of superpowers, magic rituals, and saving the innocent from evil.”
Or, as Cosmo put it, “What if the Babysitters Club were…witches?” Also an ebook.

Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz (FIC DeLaCRUZ)
“Joanna and her daughters Freya and Ingrid live in North Hampton, out on the tip of Long Island. All three women lead seemingly quiet, uneventful existences. But they are harboring a mighty secret– they are powerful witches banned from using their magic. When mysterious, violent attacks begin to plague the town and a young girl disappears over the Fourth of July weekend, they realize it’s time to uncover who and what dark forces are working against them.” Also a TV series.

The Witches of New York by Ami McKay (FIC McKAY)
“New York in the spring of 1880 is a place alive with wonder and curiosity. Determined to learn the truth about the world, its residents enthusiastically engage in both scientific experimentation and spiritualist pursuits. Séances are the entertainment of choice in exclusive social circles, and many enterprising women — some possessed of true intuitive powers, and some gifted with the art of performance — find work as mediums. Enter Adelaide Thom and Eleanor St. Clair. At their humble teashop, Tea and Sympathy, they provide a place for whispered confessions, secret cures, and spiritual assignations for a select society of ladies, who speak the right words and ask the right questions.” Or, as Cosmo puts it, “For those who wish Edith Wharton was just a little witchier.”

Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin (YA FIC MAHURIN)
“If you’re looking for a magical trilogy that’s big on romance, start with Serpent & Dove. Lou is a witch in hiding, forced into a marriage with Reid, a man who’s sworn to burn every witch he can expose. Theirs is a slow-burn romance that readers will root for.” (Bookriot) Also an ebook.

The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs by Katherine Howe (FIC HOWE)
“Connie Goodwin is an expert on America’s fractured past with witchcraft. A young, tenure-track professor in Boston, she’s earned career success by studying the history of magic in colonial America – especially women’s home recipes and medicines….But beyond her studies, Connie harbors a secret: She is the direct descendant of a woman tried as a witch in Salem, an ancestor whose abilities were far more magical than the historical record shows. When a hint from her mother and clues from her research lead Connie to the shocking realization that her partner’s life is in danger, she must race to solve the mystery behind a centuries-long deadly curse.”

Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson (YA FIC ANDERSON)
“While investigating the supposed suicides of her best friend, Riley, and mean girls June and Dayton, sixteen-year-old Wiccan Mila Flores accidentally brings them back to life.”

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