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25 Spellbinding Books About Witches

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25 Spellbinding Books About Witches

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It’s almost spooky season. And for readers who delight in a walk on the witchy side, the dark, cool evenings of autumn are the perfect time for a deep dive into the magical world of witchature.  

Over the last 10 years, books based on witches and the real-life medieval witch trials have been having their moment. Certainly, it makes sense for the witch-huntsthat raged across 17th-century Europe and colonial America to provide a platform for stories of modern-day misogyny and injustice.

But what’s particularly appealing about the growing genre that is witchature, is the diverse depictions of witches and the numerous themes that are explored, relating not just to witchcraft but also power, identity, and a redefined history.

If you’ve yet to engage with the witches of literature or already find witch-focused fiction spellbinding and are ready to read more, then here are 25 brilliant books about magical women. 


Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

Hoffman, the veritable grand-mammie of witchature, wrote the charming classic, Practical Magic, nearly 30 years ago.

It’s a tale about suburban witches, familial love and the magic of everyday spells, and is quite a bit darker than the cult movie (starring Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock) that came after it. 

The novel follows the Owens sisters, Sally and Gillian, who come from a long line of witches with a family curse: any man who falls in love with them is doomed to an untimely death. Raised by their eccentric aunts, the sisters must navigate love, relationships, and their magical abilities while trying to break the curse that haunts their family.


The Witching Hour by Anne Rice 

Anne Rice’s novel about the Mayfair family, a powerful dynasty of witches in New Orleans, is a mesmerizing tale of passion, power and the twisted secrets at the centre of their survival.

The Witching Hour is the first in a series of novels, but is as satisfying a read as any books penned by this master storyteller. 


Lois the Witch by Elizabeth Gaskell

This often overlooked gem by Gaskell tells the story of orphan Lois Barclay who arrives in Puritan New England in 1691. 

Gaskell quickly and thrillingly establishes the hardship and anxiety experienced by these god-fearing settlers in their unforgiving and frightening new land. In doing so, she gives context to how easily the whole town that Lois is still a stranger in, is whipped into a hysteria of witch accusations, trials and executions. 


Circe by Madeline Miller - Enya's Attic, books by women for women

Circe by Madeline Miller

While not a book about a witch in the traditional sense, this sumptuous story focuses on the character of Circe from Greek mythology, the sorceress who turned Odysseus’s men into pigs.

Miller’s novel gives Circe her own story, replete with pain, struggles and the challenges of power, and in doing so offers us a new retelling of an ancient and beloved epic.  

 BUY IT HERE: Circe by Madeline Miller - 10,85 €


The Physical Book of Deliverance by Katherine Howe

Blending historical fiction and witchcraft's factual past, this thrilling novel follows the story of Connie Goodwin, a Harvard graduate student who discovers a hidden manuscript that once belonged to her ancestor, Deliverance Dane. As Connie delves deeper into her family's history, she uncovers a secret world of magic and must confront the legacy of the Salem witch trials.


The Inheritance of Orquídea DivinabyZoraida Córdova

Witches and magical realism are made for each other, which is why this fantastical and dream-like novel is such a joy to read.

Alternating between Orquídea's past and her descendants' present, this spellbinding talefocuses on the Montoyas, a familyspread across America who rarely mention their mysterious matriarch Orquídea. But when she dies and they collect their inheritance, they soon have nothing but questions.

And as they realise their lives are in danger,Orquídea’s descendants travel to her home in Ecuador to try to save their family and finally uncover the secrets their witch-like matriarch held so close to her.


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The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson - Enya's Attic, books by women for women

The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson 

A grim but gripping story that leads up to the infamous Pendle Witch trial in Lancashire 1612 in which 12 people were put to death including the wealthy local woman, Alice Nutter.

Winterson’s short novel centres on a fictional account of Nutter’s life and is filled with magical horrors, such as severed heads that talk, and dastardly deals with the devil. But it is equally stark and unflinching in its scrutiny of power and its abuses.


 BUY IT HERE: The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson - €13,05

I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem by Maryse Condé 

One of the few Black women in Salem, the real-life Tituba was the first woman to be accused of witchcraft during the 17th-century witch trials. This novel by French author and scholar Maryse Condé gives a voice to a woman whose suffering during this heinous event in American history is often disregarded.

In the novel, Tituba tells her story beginning with the rape of her mother on a slave ship called Christ the King. With her story flows the shameful and brutal truths of colonial life, but Tituba somehow finds her strength in accepting herself as a woman and a witch completely on her terms.


Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz

In this urban fantasy novel, the Beauchamp family, which includes the immortal witch matriarch and her two adult daughters, must hide their magical abilities from the modern world.

When they are forced to confront dark forces and old enemies, their magical secrets become increasingly difficult to keep.


Witch Child by Celia Rees 

This historical fiction novel centres on the journey of a young girl accused of witchcraft in 17th-century England. However, as Mary Newbury crosses the ocean in the hopes of finding a world where her healing powers will be accepted, she instead find herself facing intolerance and danger among the Puritans of colonial America.


The Witch’s Daughter by Paula Brackston

Spanning centuries, The Witch’s Daughter follows the life of the Elizabeth Hawksmith, a witch who survives through the ages by harnessing her magical powers. Along the way, she encounters challenges, love, and the constant threat of persecution for her abilities.


Chocolat by Joanne Harris - Enya's Attic, classic books by women writers

Chocolat by Joanne Harris

Chocolat is the enchanting story of the mysterious Vianne and her young daughter who arrive in a rural French village during a carnival. 

Deciding to stay for a while, Vianne opens a chocolatería. This act outrages the austere local priest, particularly as the newcomer’s chocolates seem to have a magical effect on his parishioners. 

As Lent begins, so too does a battle of wills between the witchy chocolate maker and the dour priest who, like Vianne herself, is dealing with his own demons from childhood.


 BUY IT HERE: Chocolate by Joanne Harris - €13,05

The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown 

Set in 17th-century England during the time of the witch hunts, The Witchfinder’s Sister is narrated by Alice Hopkins, the sister of Matthew Hopkins, a true life notorious “witchfinder general”.

Alice becomes embroiled in her brother's activities, torn between her love for him and the horror of the man he is becoming.

As she starts to question his motives and navigate the dark and dangerous world of witch-hunting, she finds her own life and liberty are soon at stake.


Hexenhaus by Nikki McWatters

This young adult novel weaves together the lives of three teenage girls from different historical times – 17th-Century Germany, 18th-Century Scotland and modern-day rural Australia – who are each caught up in the hysteria of their age and condemned by their communities for who they are. It’s a beautiful exploration of how witch hunts against women have continued to this day. 


A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan 

Spanning generations, this sweeping historical saga takes readers from 17th century France to London in WWII. In the process it tells the story of the Orchiére women, a  matriarchal line of witches and their struggles to protect their craft and heritage in the face of persecution.


The Witch's Trinity by Erika Mailman 

The Witch’s Trinity is a fictional case study set in medieval Germany during the dark, desperate days that follow a real famine in 1507. It centres on Güde Müller, a woman accused of witchcraft and the challenges she faces in protecting her family and securing her own sanity in a society driven by fear and superstition.


The Women Could Fly by Megan Giddings

Fans of Margaret Atwood, Deborah Harkness, and Octavia E. Butler, will relish this feminist speculative novel, The Women Could Fly.  It’s a biting dystopian tale set in a world where unmarried women over the age of thirty must be monitored by the state in case they show themselves to be witches.

28-year-old Josephine Thomas is ambivalent about marriage and, as a result, is sure to lose autonomy over her own life. But she’s more concerned about what happened to her mother who disappeared 14 years earlier. So when she's offered an opportunity to honour one last request from her mother's will, she takes it.

In doing so, she quickly sheds her regular life to connect with a mother she’s never known but has never understood more clearly until this moment. 


The Year of Witching by Alexis Henderson - Enya's Attic, classic books by women writers

The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

A dark feminist fantasy about reclaiming your power despite the patriarchal structures that hold you down. 

In the land of Bethel, where the Prophet's word is law, Immanuelle Moore discovers dark powers within herself. As she opens herself up to them, everything she becomes is the antithesis of the rigid, puritanical society she lives in.

 BUY IT HERE: The Year of Witching by Alexis Henderson - €13,20

Weyward by Emilia Hart

In following the Weyward matriarchal line, the lives of three women from different time periods are inextricably linked. Witchcraft, secrets, and struggles against male abuse are wound together with the ties made by strong female characters who rise up and survive against all odds.


The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

A chilling and compelling story set on the remote Norwegian island of Vardø in the 1600s, The Mercies is inspired by the real Vardø storm and the horrific witch hunt that followed. 

When a catastrophic tsunami almost completely wipes out the male population of a small fishing village, the grieving women are left to fend for themselves. However, challenges arise as new alliances and old resentments develop. 

Into this fragile community comes the sinister commissioner, Absolom Cornet, with his young wife Ursa. Tasked with gaining control and dominance of the island, Cornet is determined to get these ungodly women, as he sees them, to submit to his authority in any way possible. 


The Witches of Vardø by Anya Bergman

Another book based on the true story of the horrific witch trials of 1660s Northern Norway, The Witches of Vardø is a beautiful blend of history, folklore, and fiction. Bergman unveils a story of two young women who set out to rescue an accused witch held captive at the fortress of Vardø.

Emotional, haunting, and powerful, this is a novel that shows how paranoia and superstition can together cast a long and terrible shadow. Yet it also highlights that amid persecution, the bonds of female solidarity can still be strengthened. 


Now She is a Witch by Kirsty Logan

Now She is a Witch is an elegant and twisted dark tale of feminine power in the fearful and misogynistic medieval era. The story centres on Lux, a young woman whose mother has been sentenced to death for witchcraft, and Else - a mysterious stranger who arrives at Lux's door convincing her to seek revenge against the man who has wronged them both.


The Familiars by Stacey Halls

Drawn from real-life figures, Stacey Halls's intriguing novel tells the story of Fleetwood Shuttleworth, a 17-year-old pregnant noblewoman. Fearing her unborn child will not survive, she accepts help from a local midwife, Alice Gray, despite the growing accusations of witchcraft that surround her new young friend.  


Conversion by Katherine Howe

Blending historical and contemporary narratives, this novel follows two parallel stories. One is set in present-day Massachusetts, where a group of teenage girls falls victim to a mysterious illness echoing the symptoms of the Salem witch trials. The other narrative delves into the events of the actual trials, drawing connections between the past and present.


The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent

Based on the author's family history, The Heretic’s Daughter is the story of Martha Carrier, who was accused and later executed during the Salem witch trials. The novel, narrated by Martha's young daughter Sarah, portrays the family's struggle to survive amid the hysteria and the resilience they display in the face of persecution.


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