Another Six Wonderfully Witchy Stories to Charm You
More Witchy Book Love
It's the perfect time of year to read a spooky book full of magic and feisty witches galore!
Because I love a witchy book, I'm back with more more more witchy titles here, and I'm working on yet another list.
What are your favorite witchy stories?
01 The Last Graduate (Scholomance #2) by Naomi Novik
This second book in Naomi Novik's Scholomance series builds on book one's dark humor, dangerous forces, and the irresistible attraction between El and Orion. I tried to slow down and savor The Last Graduate.
I loved A Deadly Education: Lesson One of the Scholomance by Naomi Novik (I listed it in my Greedy Reading List Six More Wonderfully Witchy Stories to Charm You), and The Last Graduate is the second wonderful book in the Scholomance trilogy.
Novik's Scholomance series is set at a magical school with two routes out for its students: a grueling, punishing path to graduation and beyond or, just as likely, death. Danger and darkness lurk around every corner.
In book two, El continues to be a fantastically grumpy, powerful, whip-smart, socially awkward, straightforward character I was obsessed with, and I wanted to spend as much time with her as possible.
In this second book of the trilogy, El is determined to somehow help her classmates escape their deadly school despite the selfish, privilege-driven approach that has dictated life-and-death outcomes for generations.
02 The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
I loved the vivid setting and the strong women who find themselves in the middle of this early seventeenth century witch hunt.
The majority of page time is spent showing the tasks of daily life (and almost-claustrophobic interconnectedness) within a tiny, very northern Norwegian community in the early 17th century.
But there are witch hunts at hand, and dabbling in the Sami traditions of runes, poppets, or the playing of drums—or simply being a strong-willed woman helping to feed a village by manning fishing boats when the men are all lost—is enough to lead to terrible consequences.
Hargrave allows some light into the darkness and cold in the form of love, and important realizations, and some brutal justice, but ignorance and pettiness lead to other horrific and undeserved consequences.
For my full review, check out The Mercies.
03 The Manningtree Witches by A.K. Blakemore
Blakemore's book--which is based upon witch hunts during the seventeenth-century English Civil War--is smart, shadowy and gothic, often infuriating, and consistently fascinating.
In a small town in seventeenth century England, Puritanical fanaticism is opening the door for witch-hunting paranoia.
Rebecca West is fatherless, without marriage prospects, and generally defiant--all of which render her vulnerable to suspicion and subject to the various, often harmful whims of men.
The Manningtree Witches is smart and thoughtful, and the tone of Blakemore's novel is shadowy and gothic. Rebecca despairs at her situation, yet she is a wonderfully defiant and strong character--her mother is, dangerously, even more so.
The Manningtree Witches is infuriating in its recounting of the horrific cruelties and tortures enacted against so many women at the time. But I appreciated the dark humor and strength Blakemore allows the formidable female characters in the book.
For my full review, check out The Manningtree Witches.
04 Weyward by Emilia Hart
Emilia Hart's debut novel links women in three timelines through blood and a powerful connection to the natural world as they resist male dominance and cruelty in various witchy ways.
In Weyward, Emilia Hart's story of witchcraft and the natural world, she explores three timelines of women connected through the ages by power and by society's historical suspicion of strong women.
The majority of the male characters in Weyward are unredeemable buffoons, at best ignorant and rigid and at worst neglectful and cruel--and always holding the power, at least before the Weyward women recognize and develop their own. The story features instances of rape, abandonment, witch hunting, and attempted suicide.
Yet Altha, Violet, and Kate persist, struggle against the binds society attempts to put upon them, connect powerfully with the natural world, and are linked by blood ties and echoes of hardship and overcoming.
I received an audiobook version of this book courtesy of Libro.fm (Libro.fm supports local bookstores!) and Macmillan Audio. The story is wonderfully narrated by Aysha Kala, Helen Keeley, and Nell Barlow.
For my full review, please check out Weyward.
05 VenCo by Cherie Dimaline
VenCo offers feminist, hard-drinking, foul-mouthed witches bound together by mysterious forces who undergo a quest to secure their survival by fighting a sexy, evil, legendary enemy out to destroy them.
Through a series of unexpected events, Lucky St. James is offered a mysterious job at a publishing company...but she and her grandmother are folded into what feels like an oddly tight-knit community of women.
I was excited about the premise of a sleek, powerful company serving as a front for a coven of witches pulling the strings (I admit, I was imagining something like the feel of Hench), but the company was not at all a focus of the book. And the witches' extensive, all-knowing abilities extend to many scenarios, but the gaps in their knowledge and powers leave them stumped and are necessary to drive the story.
The tone frequently felt geared toward young readers to me, and I had no trouble predicting the twist regarding the missing witch. But Dimaline's entertaining VenCo offers a sexy and mischievous witch hunter, a raucous girls' road trip, heavy-drinking and foul-mouthed witches, the oozing, dark magic of New Orleans, a steady dose of feminism, and a dramatic showdown.
06 Hester by Laurie Lico Albanese
Hester is richly imagined historical fiction with connections to themes and characters from The Scarlet Letter. It's magical and intriguing, and I loved it.
They say witch, but what do they mean?... Witch is a reason to kill you; witch might be someone to heal you; witch can be the Devil, or witch can be a woman so beautiful she makes you lose your sense. They've got so many ways of calling you a witch, they just change it to how it suits them.
In Hester: A Novel, Laurie Lico Albanese imagines the woman who inspired Nathaniel Hawthorne's Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter as recent Scottish immigrant Isobel Gamble.
Isobel's needlework and the colors she sees in the world are captivatingly described, and the tenuous situation for a woman at the time without a man in the household is conveyed in chilling fashion.
I loved the connections to The Scarlet Letter and the book within a book, the witchy focus, the renegade feminism, and the details of life at the time.
Click here for my full review of Hester.