Books

11 of the best books about witches

Posted by
Sarah Shaffi
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The best books about witches.

These books about witches will cast a spell over you.

Autumn is a cosy season, all about consuming delicious hot chocolate, wearing cosy jumpers and just generally revelling in the beautiful colours the season brings.

But autumn is also when the nights start drawing in, and with Halloween just around the corner, it can also be a spooky time.

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Some will use this time of year to indulge in their passion for horror movies, but if your tastes tend less towards being scared out of your wits and more toward embracing the magic and mayhem of autumn, then stories about witches are what you need.

Here are 11 novels about witches – ancient and modern, good and evil – we think you’ll love.

Happy reading…

  • Kingdom Of Souls by Rena Barron

    Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron.
    Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron.

    An explosive fantasy set in a West African world of magic and legend, Rena Barron’s debut novel Kingdom Of Souls follows Arrah, a young woman from a long line of the most powerful witch doctors in the land.

    But Arrah can’t cast even the simplest curse, or call upon her ancestors for help and guidance.

    When strange premonitions befall her family and children begin disappearing, Arrah takes the extreme step of selling years of her life in exchange for magic.

    Twisty and with excellent world building, this is a great story about power and family.

    Kingdom Of Souls is out now (HarperCollins, £12.99).

  • The Familiars by Stacey Halls

    In the early 1600s, 12 women from Lancashire were accused of the murder of 10 people by the use of witchcraft. Ten were found guilty and executed. Stacey Halls takes this event, known as the Pendle Witch Trials, as the inspiration for her debut novel.

    The Familiars is the story of 17-year-old Fleetwood Shuttleworth, pregnant for the fourth time. Determined that this baby will survive where the others did not, Fleetwood hires Alice Gray, a young midwife, who is drawn into witchcraft allegations. Fleetwood risks everything to help Alice, but by doing so puts herself in danger.

    This is a powerful look at how there is nothing that terrifies men more than women they don’t understand.

    The Familiars is out now (Bonnier Zaffre, £12.99).

  • The Furies by Katie Lowe

    This debut novel features too-cool-for-school teenage girls, an outsider welcomed into their fold, and murder.

    When Violet starts at a new school she is quickly drawn into a friendship with three girls who are favoured by their teacher, a woman who holds private meetings with them to impart thoughts on art, feminism and witchcraft.

    But all is not well – the trio of girls used to have a fourth friend, but they refuse to speak about what happened to her. Violet gets drawn deeper into an obsessive friendship, and soon finds herself caught up in something dangerous.

    The Craft meets The Secret History, this is a guaranteed good read.

    The Furies is released on 2 May (The Borough Press, £12.99).

  • Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

    Tomi Adeyemi’s fantasy debut is a classic story of a woman being forced to keep her magic hidden because she is feared by a man in power, but with a West African twist.

    Children of Blood and Bone, which is the first in a trilogy, is set in a fictional version of Nigeria where magic has been outlawed.

    Those who still have powers, including Zélie, must keep it hidden for fear of being killed on the orders of the king.

    When she encounters a runaway princess, Zélie realises she has the power to bring magic back for good, and out of the shadows.

    If you love this, there’s not long to wait until the second in the trilogy – Children of Virtue and Vengeance – is out in December 2019. And even more good news – Children of Blood and Bone is being developed into a film.

    Children of Blood and Bone is out now (Macmillan Children’s Books, £7.99).

  • The Witches by Roald Dahl

    A classic childhood read, Roald Dahl’s The Witches still has the power to terrify. In Dahl’s world, witches hate children and are plotting to make them all disappear. It’s up to one young boy and his grandmother to stop the Grand High Witch from executing her wicked plan.

    The moment where the witches take off their human masks to reveal their real faces is horrifying, and was brought to life brilliantly by Angelica Houston in the 1990 film adaptation of the book. We can’t wait to see what Anne Hathaway will make of the role in the forthcoming remake.

    The Witches is out now (Puffin, £6.99).

  • Circe by Madeline Miller

    The witch Circe is best known for a brief appearance in Homer’s The Odyssey. The hero of that story, Odysseus, is stranded on Circe’s island for a period. While there, Circe turns his men into pigs and falls in love with Odysseus, who has a relationship with her and then continues on his journey home, leaving Circe distraught.

    The Circe of Madeline Miller’s novel is far more well-rounded than Homer’s character. In Circe, we meet a woman who longs for freedom, particularly from the men in her life (including her father) who don’t appreciate or love her for who she is and whose only desire is to oppress her.

    Banished to an island after casting a spell which goes wrong, Circe learns to hone her craft and love herself.

    This is a brilliant novel – deserving of its Women’s Prize for Fiction longlisting – about a woman who breaks free from the societal and familial restrictions placed upon her.

    Circe is out now (Bloomsbury, £8.99).

  • A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

    Historian Diana Bishop is a witch with an impressive lineage, but she refuses to practice – until she opens a manuscript in the Bodleian Library at Oxford and finds herself in an age-old struggle between witches, demons and vampires.

    Into this mix comes Matthew Clairmont, a vampire and a geneticist, who Diana is drawn to. Unable to ignore her magic any longer, Diana works with Matthew to improve her powers, and to try and keep a fragile balance of peace between enemies.

    A Discovery of Witches has been turned into a TV show with Matthew Goode, and the second series – based on the second book in the series, Shadow of Night – will start filming this summer.

    A Discovery of Witches is out now (Headline, £8.99).

  • Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

    Labyrinth Lost is the first in a trilogy following Alex, who is a burja – the name for the most powerful witch in her generation. But Alex hates magic, and at her Deathday celebration casts a spell to rid herself of her power.

    But the spell backfires, of course, and her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she’s not sure she can trust. Unfortunately for Alex, Nova may be her only chance at saving her family.

    Full of magic (in both senses), this has been described by author Daniel Jose Older as a “brilliant brown-girl-in-Brooklyn update on Alice in Wonderland and Dante’s Inferno”.

    Labyrinth Lost is out now (Sourcebooks, £10.99).

  • Stardust by Neil Gaiman

    A fairytale for adults, Stardust features a handsome (not-quite) prince, a fallen star, a fight over a throne, and witches.

    Stardust is the story of Tristan Thorn, an unassuming resident of the dull town of Wall. In love with the beautiful Victoria Forester, he vows to retrieve a fallen star from the magical land of Faerie to prove his devotion. But also after that star – which has taken the form of a human woman, Yvaine – are a group of witches who want to kill it so they can keep their young bodies.

    As if that wasn’t enough, the remaining sons of the recently deceased Lord of Stormhold are also after the star to help them settle an inheritance battle.

    Funny, sweet and sinister by turns, this is an entertaining read that was turned into a film with Michelle Pfeiffer and Claire Danes.

    Stardust is out now (Headline, £8.99).

  • The Graces by Laure Eve

    Like The Furies, this is a novel about an outsider who becomes enamoured with a mysterious group of teenagers.

    River, like everyone else in her town, is obsessed with the Graces, siblings who are beautiful and a little remote. Oh, and they and their parents might also be witches.

    When River becomes friends with the youngest Grace, Summer, she hopes it will also be a chance to grow closer to Summer’s older brother Fenrin, who she is in loved with.

    This YA novel is a story of obsession, beauty and desire, and how raw everything feels when you’re a teenager.

    The Graces is out now (Faber & Faber, £7.99).

  • Set in Regency London, Sorcerer to the Crown is about Zacharias Wythe, England’s first African Sorcerer Royal. He leads the Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, but a malicious faction is seeking his removal and the society is failing in its duty to keep magic levels stable.

    The last thing Zacharias needs is an apprentice, but that’s what he gets in Prunella Gentleman, an orphan who has just stumbled upon English magic’s greatest discovery in centuries.

    Together, Zacharias and Prunella may just change the nature of sorcery.

    Sorcerer to the Crown is out now (Pan, £8.99).

Images: Supplied by publishers

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