32 Spellbinding Books About Witches That Are Sure to Charm Readers
Witches make every story better; that's just a fact. From the Grimm brothers's cautionary tale "Hansel and Gretel," which featured an evil witch with a taste for children, to the more modern redemption story of the Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba, in Wicked, witches have long played a key role in literature. As a result, there's no shortage of witchy reads both old and new just waiting to be added to your TBR.
In real life, the witch hunts that swept across Europe from the 1500s to the late 1600s are believed to have resulted in more than 40,000 executions, while the Salem witch trials caused 19 people to be hanged. For much of recorded history, anyone outside of the norm was regarded with suspicion whenever something went awry in a community, leading to accusations of witchcraft over something as simple as a failed crop. That harsh reality stands in sharp contrast to the fictional witches whose stories of magic and mayhem fascinate readers of all ages today. These days, the real persecution people accused of witchcraft faced is often used as a metaphor for discrimination in modern witch stories.
Happily, the witches who appear in contemporary books often get the last laugh. They're the stars of frothy romances, the heroes of their own stories, and sometimes they even get to be the bad guy, but always on their own terms. Ready to dive into some magical books? Try one of these tales of witches falling in love, saving the world, and stirring up a whole lot of trouble.
Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
Nnedi Okorafor's Akata Witch is a vibrant story of a young woman whose magical abilities help her discover her place in the world. Although she was born in New York City, Sunny Nwazue lives in Nigeria, where her albinism prevents her from her embracing her athletic talents. As a result, she never quite feels like she fits in anywhere until she discovers she's a "free agent" (someone with magical powers). Her newfound abilities lead to her join three other students, who are collectively tasked with using their powers to bring down a fellow magic user who is also a career criminal.
The Babysitters Coven by Kate Williams
The Baby-Sitters Club meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer in Kate Williams's delightful The Babysitters Coven. While she appears to be a normal 17-year-old, trouble follows Esme everywhere. But despite her penchant for landing in the middle of disasters, she's also an excellent babysitter, just like her mom was. Even though she knows she has a gift for babysitting, she's more than a little bit suspicious when cool girl Cassandra suddenly becomes desperate to join her babysitters club. At least, she is until she realizes both she and Cassandra are part of a long line of sitters/witches who are destined to protect their young charges and the world from the forces of evil.
Black Witch Magic by Mila Nicks
Selene Blackstone is a cursed witch and a librarian who is sick and tired of the small town rumors that plague her family in Black Witch
Magic by Mila Nicks. For her part, Selene tries her best to keep to herself — usually by losing herself in books — in her small town of Brimrock. However, the rumors surrounding her grandmother, Luna, are so pervasive they attract the attention of a paranormal investigator named Aiden. Now Selene has no choice but to stop Aiden if she has any hope of keeping her family's secrets quiet. The only trouble is the snarky investigator's charms are hard to resist.
Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury
Liselle Sambury's Blood Like Magic has a terrifically dark premise. In order to preserve her family's magical bloodline, Voya must kill her first love. However, so far, she hasn't actually fallen in love with anyone. In order to save time, the young witch signs up for a genetic matchmaking program which matches her with a guy named Luc, who also happens to be the most annoying person she has ever met. Now Voya not only has to make herself fall for Luc, she also has to prepare herself to take his life, or else doom her entire family to lose their magic forever.
Cackle by Rachel Harrison
Not all witches are good, as Rachel Harrison's wickedly fascinating Cackle illustrates with a creepy flourish. After being dumped, Annie heads to upstate New York for a fresh start, and she finds it in a small town with an apartment that would be perfect if not for all of the spiders. It's not long before Annie finds her first new friend, an enigmatic woman named Sophie who appears ageless and lives in a mysterious mansion nestled deep in the forest. Sophie is everything Annie isn't: glamorous, self-assured, and unwilling to take no for an answer. But could she also be a witch with nefarious intentions? Annie is about to find out.
The Legend of the Christmas Witch by Dan Murphy and Aubrey Plaza
If you're looking for a festive witchy read for the whole family then look no further than The Legend of the Christmas Witch by Dan Murphy and Aubrey Plaza, of Parks and Recreation fame. This charming children's book focuses on Santa Claus's twin sister, the Christmas Witch, who visits homes in the middle of the night and leaves behind unusual gifts for the residents. Years ago, the twins were separated, and Santa's sister has been looking for him ever since. However, when they finally reunite, her brother is afraid of her powers, leading to a confrontation that could put Christmas in jeopardy for everyone.
Daughters of the Witching Hill by Mary Sharratt
Based on the all too real 1612 Pendle witch-hunt, Daughters of the Witching Hill by Mary Sharratt is a gripping novel that transports readers to the height of witch-hunting hysteria in 17th century England. Bess Southerns is a widow who makes money by telling people's fortunes and healing the sick. In an effort to help her family and friends, she shares her secrets with her granddaughter and her best friend. Unfortunately, a peddler dies after an encounter with Bess's granddaughter, which attracts the attention of a local magistrate who makes it his mission in life to prove all three women are practitioners of witchcraft.
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Deborah Harkness's All Souls trilogy has been called Harry Potter for adults, but fair warning, this series is first and foremost an epic romance with plenty of steam. The first book in the series, A Discovery of Witches, introduces readers to Diana Bishop, a scholar and descendant of witches who discovers a powerful book tucked away in the library at Oxford. Her discovery draws her into an underworld of supernatural creatures and magic, but more importantly, it puts her on the radar of vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont. As you might have guessed, Matthew and Diana are destined to fall in love, despite their romance proving dangerous for the both of them.
Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch by Rivka Galchen
There's a dash of real history in Rivka Galchen's Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch, but more than anything else, this is a story about just how dangerous community gossip can be. Set in 1618 Germany, the book follows Katharina Kepler, an illiterate widow known for bragging about her children and making herbal remedies. When one of her neighbors, Ursula Reinbold, accuses Katharina of giving her a drink that made her ill, the rest of the community seizes on the idea that she's a witch. This leaves her mathematician son, Johannes, to help his mother form a defense against the outlandish charges before it's too late.
The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling
If you ever daydreamed about witches moving into Stars Hollow on Gilmore Girls, then The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling is the book for you. It's been nine years since a brokenhearted Vivienne Jones cursed her ex-boyfriend in a fit of anger, but she never imagined her hex would have any lasting effects. However, when Rhys Penhallow shows up to recharge the ley lines in their small town before the annual fall festival, everything goes horribly awry. Now Vivienne and Rhys will have to work together to reverse the hex before the entire town is doomed by her drunken spell-casting.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling is beloved for its magical world building and timeless characters. The first book in the series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone introduces readers to the titular Harry, also known as "The Boy Who Lived." On his 11th birthday, Harry is rescued from the world of muggles and thrust into a world of magic, which includes the magical boarding school Hogwarts, flying broomsticks, and new friends like Hermione Granger, who is one of the brightest witches of her age. If you're looking for a world where witches and wizards reign supreme, then you'll be hard-pressed to find a series more immersive than this one.
The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova
Nothing is more powerful or important than family in Zoraida Córdova's magical tale The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina. The Montoya family knows there's something special about their matriarch, but they never question how she always keeps the house stocked with food or why she refuses to leave her home, even for special events. When Orquídea Divina dies, her family expects answers, but instead they arrive at her funeral to discover she's been transformed into a ceiba tree. Another seven years pass before the family begins receiving blessings from their matriarch that they can't explain — and visits from a dangerous person determined to pick the Montoya family off one by one.
The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry
The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry is an eerie gothic novel that will keep you guessing thanks to its self-professed unreliable narrator, Towner Whitney. This mystery-fueled story is set in Salem, where Towner is part of a long line of women who can foretell the future by examining the patterns in lace. When two women go missing, Towner reluctantly returns to Salem after many years away, and quickly discovers the case is far more personal than she ever could have imagined. It seems the disappearance of the two women is also connected to the death of her twin sister, which has always been shrouded in secrecy.
The Manningtree Witches by A.K. Blakemore
Believe it or not, but the witty and thought-provoking novel The Manningtree Witches by A.K. Blakemore is a debut. Set in the small town of Manningtree, where wars have left the community almost completely devoid of men, Puritanical fever is creating a sea of mistrust among the residents. That distrust only magnifies when Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins comes to town. Dangerous though he may be, Matthew may have met his match in Rebecca, a local woman who yearns for more than a life of serving men, and who is more than willing to challenge the new man in town and his quest to turn neighbor against neighbor.
The Midnight Witch by Paula Brackston
Paula Brackston has written several books with powerful witches at their center, and they're all worth a read. Still, there's something extra special about The Midnight Witch. Set in Edwardian England, this bewitching story follows Lady Lilith Montgomery, one of high society's most prominent young women. Lady Lilith is even engaged to London's most eligible bachelor, but in the wake of her father's death, the cracks in her perfect world begin to show. You see, Lilith is a witch, and when her father died she became the Head Witch of the Lazarus Coven. Now she'll have to balance being the perfect lady with fighting off dark forces her society friends can never find out about.
Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu
Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu is a warm hug in the form of a graphic novel. Young witch Nova Huang works at her grandmother's bookshop where she both stocks the shelves and investigates any strange occurrences in their small town. When reports of a white wolf nearby leads her into the woods, she encounters a werewolf named Tam Lang, who is busy fighting off a demonic horse. Due to being a werewolf, Tam has never found a place he could call home, but Nova is determined to change his luck by bringing him into her magical circle of family and friends.
The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow is an ode to powerful women and their ability to change the world. In 1893, witches are nothing more than characters in fairytales, they're certainly not championing the suffragette movement from afar . . . or are they? When the Eastwood sisters join New Salem's suffragette movement they also reconnect with their heritage, which includes a long line of witches. Now the sisters are ready to delve into their family's past to revive magic in order to help women achieve the vote. But what they're not counting on is that there are dark forces working to prevent them from achieving their goal.
Payback's a Witch by Lana Harper
Three women work together to exact magical revenge on the man who played with their hearts in Lana Harper's delightful Payback's a Witch. Emmy Harlow hasn't been home since the heir to the most powerful magical family in town, Gareth Blackmoore, broke her heart. As a result, her own magic is waning, which makes her visit to participate in a spellcasting tournament all the more important. What she doesn't expect to discover upon her return is that her best friend Linden and the ever-so-slightly dangerous and alluring Talia Avramov also had their hearts broken by Gareth — and they want her to help them get payback.
Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
There are four books in Alice Hoffman's Practical Magic series, and you should definitely read them all. However, as engrossing as the expanded story of the Owens women's family tree is, it's hard to beat the book that started it all. For over 200 years, the Owens women have been blamed for every unfortunate thing that happened in their hometown. The notoriety was too much for sisters Gillian and Sally, who left home as soon as they could with no plans of returning. As is often the way, fate has other plans for them, and the Owens sisters soon find themselves drawn back to their home and each other.
The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke
The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke will give you The Craft vibes in the best possible way. Sideways Pike is at the bottom of the social pecking order at her school. The young lesbian witch is ostracized by her peers until the three most popular girls in school hire her to cast a spell for them. Soon, Sideways is drawn into a coven fueled as much by popularity as it is by magic. Unlike The Craft, the young women in Scapegracers aren't cruel to one another though, instead they surround Sideways with the love and support she's been missing her whole life.
A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan
Louisa Morgan's A Secret History of Witches is a sweeping epic about five generations of mothers and daughters, and their fraught relationship with magic. Beginning in 1821 when Grand-Mere Ursule dies to save her family and seemingly end their magical lineage, and spanning straight through to World War II when her descendants are working tirelessly to bring back their gifts in order to change history, the story is grounded in what it means to live up to a family legacy. As always, magic comes with a price, and as each generation works to reclaim their gifts they also face a myriad of challenges along the way.
These Witches Don't Burn by Isabel Sterling
A dangerous threat to modern day Salem and magic users everywhere forces a young coven to unite in These Witches Don't Burn by Isabel Sterling. Hannah is an elemental witch and average teen, who spends her days avoiding her ex-girlfriend and working in a local tourist trap until someone performs a blood ritual during the high school bonfire. Now, Hannah is going to have to work with her ex if she has any hopes of figuring out who is performing dark magic. Add in a new crush and the need to keep her magic a secret from all of the regulars in Salem, and it becomes clear Hannah's task is anything but easy.
We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry
From the abundant '80s references to the classic underdog sports team narrative, We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry is the ultimate genre mashup. Set in the infamous town of Danvers, Massachusetts, where the accusations that sparked the 1692 witch trials were made, the story follows the 1989 Danvers High School Falcons field hockey team as they vow to do anything to make it to the state finals. Soon the team is reconnecting with Danvers' past in hopes of finding a little bit of magical assistance in achieving their goals, and embarking on an unforgettable season in the process.
Wicked by Gregory Maguire
Gregory Maguire completely reinvents The Wizard of Oz in his iconic retelling of the classic story. Before it was a hit Broadway show, Wicked was a complex novel tackling racism, class politics, and the importance of friendship. In Maguire's hands, the Wicked Witch of the West is transformed from a one-dimensional villain into Elphaba, a green-skinned witch who challenges societal norms, refuses to abide by the wizard's dangerous political ideals, and is determined to go down in history, no matter the cost. With her frenemy Glinda by her side, Elphaba's fascinating story unfolds proving the character was far more tragic than she ever was wicked.
The Witches by Roald Dahl
While most of the books on this list are about how witches are misunderstood or good at heart, The Witches by Roald Dahl is here to remind us that sometimes they're also just really, really scary. According to Grandmamma, witches aren't just characters in fairytales. They're real, and they're more dangerous than anything else on earth. At first, her grandson is skeptical of her tales, but when he meets The Grand High Witch herself, he soon realizes she was telling him the truth. Now it's up to him to save his grandmother, and stop the witches from wiping out every child in England.
The Witch's Heart by Genevieve Gornichec
Norse mythology gets a female-focused upgrade in Genevieve Gornichec's terrific debut, The Witch's Heart. When Angrboda refuses to give Odin the information he desires, he decides to burn her alive. But Angrboda lives by escaping into a forest where she meets the trickster god Loki and falls in love. Together, she and Loki have three children, each with their own special destiny. As she regains her ability to see the future, the witch realizes her family is doomed, but she's no longer content with simply seeing the events to come. With her family on the line, Angrboda is ready to reshape the course of history.
The Witch's Market by Mingmei Yip
The Witch's Market by Mingmei Yip follows Chinese-American assistant professor Eileen Chen, who teaches folk religion at a college in San Francisco. Eileen's grandmother was a shamaness, but Eileen doesn't believe witchcraft is real. Still, she finds the topic intriguing enough to accept an invitation to a market on Tenerife where women sell amulets and love spells. Soon, she finds herself drawn into this strange world, where she even falls in love with a local furniture maker. But not everything is as it seems on Tenerife, and it's not long before Eileen begins to question the motives of her new friends.
Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz
The Beauchamp women live in a sleepy little town where nothing ever happens in Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz, but they're also harboring a long-kept secret: They're actually powerful witches. Joanna, the matriarch, can resurrect people from the dead, while her daughters, Ingrid and Freya, can predict the future and brew potions, respectively. The women have long since been banned from using their powers, but as Freya's wedding approaches, they throw caution to the wind and begin casting spells with abandon. As you can imagine, it's not long before their magic spree catches the attention of someone who wishes to do them and the rest of the town harm.
The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike
In The Witches of Eastwick, John Updike introduced the world to a trio of magnificent characters: Alexandra, Jane, and Sukie, divorcées who discover their inner magic. Set in a small Rhode Island town, the story follows the trio as they learn that they can turn milk into cream, summon thunderstorms, and even float. Their newfound coven rejuvenates them and draws them all closer together until a stranger named Darryl Van Horne comes to town and invites them to his newly refurbished mansion. Soon, dangerous rumors begin spreading around town, which could put all three women's lives and newfound gifts in danger — which is exactly what Darryl wants.
Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart
Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart is a deliciously twisted tale of two witches who also happen to be sworn enemies. There's no love lost between Iraya and Jazmyne, who are divided by class, but when they realize they share a common enemy they reluctantly decide to team up. Now they have no choice but to trust each other if they have any hopes of bringing down Jazmyne's royal mother, but that's easier said than done. After years spent hating one another, there's nothing simple about the deadly alliance the young women form or the looming question of what happens if they achieve their goal.
The Witching Hour by Anne Rice
She may be best known for vampire novels, but Anne Rice has written her share of stories about witches, too. In fact, she has an entire series devoted to the Mayfair Witches, which begins in The Witching Hour. This dense story follows Rowan Mayfair, a neurosurgeon who finally embraces her magical powers when she brings a drowned man back to life. From there, the story moves from modern day New Orleans to Amsterdam, a chateau in France, and the streets of 17th century Scotland where an unspeakable evil is unleashed. As the story unfolds, readers will understand more and more about Rowan and the many magical women who came before her.
The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson
Alexis Henderson ushers readers into a dark, puritanical world in her bewitching novel The Year of Witching. Because her father is a different race than her mother, Immanuelle Moore's existence is considered blasphemous in the world of Bethel. As a result, she tries extra hard not to do anything that might upset the Prophet. But fate has other plans for Immanuelle. When she wanders into the Darkwood by chance, the spirits of four witches gift her with an incredible power that will not only liberate her, but help her free all of the women who live in her oppressive community.