14 Wicked Books About Witches
No Halloween is complete without witches, and this year, we’ve got you covered with our 14 favorite books about them. Read on to check out spooky, wicked classics by Neil Gaiman, John Updike, Anne Rice, and more.
All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness
Harkness is well-schooled in history and academia, and her witch trilogy (consisting of A Discovery of Witches, The Shadow of Night, and The Book of Life) is similarly rooted in historical notions of alchemy and the occult. The second book in the series even finds the protagonist and her vampiric boyfriend travel back to Elizabethan England.
The Witching Hour by Anne Rice
There is perhaps no place in America more magical than New Orleans, thanks to its iconic jazz, delicious food, and unique multicultural mix. That magic comes alive here when a woman discovers she’s the heir to an ancient line of matriarchal witches, with all the power (and danger) that comes with it.
The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike
Throughout history, “witch” has often been deployed as a derogatory stereotype meant to demonize powerful women. Here, Updike’s trio of divorcees reclaim female strength by injecting some magic into a place that badly needs it: the postwar American suburbs.
The Witch's Trinity by Erika Mailman
In this haunting work of historical fiction, a severe famine strikes a small German town in the early 16th Century. When a friar arrives from a large city and claims the town is under a witch’s spell, an unforgettable story of mystery and spookiness unfurls.
Wicked by Gregory Maguire
With a simple shift of perspective from doe-eyed Dorothy to her nemesis, the supposedly Wicked Witch of the West, this novel imbues Oz with danger, sex, politics, and (most of all) magic.
The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch
Witchcraft mania is back in style in 17th century Germany when a dying boy is pulled from a river, marked by a cruel shoulder tattoo. It’s up to hangman Jakob Kuisl to investigate in this engrossingly wicked tale.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
The three Hempstock women (maiden, mother, and crone) would tell you they’re not witches, nor do they cast spells. But that’s just talk. Sure, these women are kind enough to shelter a scared little boy, but they can also bottle wormholes and summon inter-dimensional demon vultures.
The Witches by Roald Dahl
For a children’s book, Dahl’s tale of the monstrous witches who kill children (or, preferably, turn them into mice so that their parents kill them) sure gets frighteningly dark.
The Witchfinder's Sister by Beth Underdown
Beth Underdow brilliantly meditates on the notion of a “witch hunt” in this sharp work of historical fiction. It’s a prescient dystopia that should remind readers of The Handmaid’s Tale: A witch story to match the political climate of 2017.
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia
Witches get the sexy YA treatment in this novel, which finds a young magic-using girl caught between the dangerous forces of Light and Dark (not to mention young love).
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
For all their publicity, the Salem witch trials didn’t involve any actual magic – just sexism and paranoia. At least that’s how it went in our world. When Howe’s protagonist starts investigating Salem’s past thanks to an enigmatic book, she finds more darkness and magic there than she imagined.
White Is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi
This award-winning novel explores the four generations of Silver women living in a family home rife with secrets and bizarre happenings. It meshes creepy atmosphere with socially conscious storytelling.
Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
Sometimes it seems like magic is more trouble than it’s worth. The family of witches at the center of Hoffman’s novel has been blamed for everything bad in their Massachusetts town for generations; no wonder Gillian and Sally are so eager to escape. But there’s no escaping the power and pull of such magic.
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
The most recent book on this list, The Bear and the Nightingale marks an auspicious debut. Katherine Arden tells a story of evil and witchcraft in a remote Russian village where winter lasts nearly all year. You’ll get chills from reading this in more ways than one.