As we creep closer and closer to Halloween, I love to fully immerse myself in the spooky autumn season with a fitting witchy story. Between historical fiction set during the witch hunts, fantastical stories of magic and curses, and wholesome tales of love and adventure, there is no shortage of books about heroic witches. Here are just a few of my favorite magical witches in literature to help you get into the spooky spirit.
Alice Hoffman’s PRACTICAL MAGIC is one of my favorites stories to pick up around this spooky time of year. If you’re also keen on this classic story, I highly recommend diving into the prequel, RULES OF MAGIC. In this enchanting novel, Franny, Jet, and Vincent Owens are learning about the dark curse put on their family back in the 1600s, after their family matriarch fell in love with the wrong man. Now, no one in their family can fall in love. Hundreds of years later, in 1960s New York City, this generation of the Owens family is coming to terms with who they are, dipping their toes in the world of magic, and tempting fate with their longing for love.
An instant New York Times bestseller and Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick from beloved author Alice Hoffman—the spellbinding prequel to Practical Magic.
Find your magic.
For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man.
Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk.
From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Yet, the children cannot escape love even if they try, just as they cannot escape the pains of the human heart. The two beautiful sisters will grow up to be the memorable aunts in Practical Magic, while Vincent, their beloved brother, will leave an unexpected legacy.
Alice Hoffman delivers “fairy-tale promise with real-life struggle” (The New York Times Book Review) in a story how the only remedy for being human is to be true to yourself. Thrilling and exquisite, real and fantastical, The Rules of Magic is “irresistible…the kind of book you race through, then pause at the last forty pages, savoring your final moments with the characters” (USA TODAY, 4/4 stars).
In my opinion, some of the best witchy stories arise out of historical happenings. Amidst the bloody civil war in England, witch hysteria is in full force. Alinor’s neighbors have had an inkling that her sinister beauty and unique determination deem her as a suspicious woman – perhaps even a witch. One evening, Alinor sits in a graveyard, hoping to find the ghost of her missing husband to confirm his death and her widowhood. Instead she meets James, a young man on the run. She shows him the secret way across the treacherous marshy landscape of the Tidelands, not knowing she is leading a spy and an enemy into her life.
This New York Times bestseller from “one of the great storytellers of our time” (San Francisco Book Review) turns from the glamour of the royal courts to tell the story of an ordinary woman, Alinor, living in a dangerous time for a woman to be different.
On Midsummer’s Eve, Alinor waits in the church graveyard, hoping to encounter the ghost of her missing husband and thus confirm his death. Until she can, she is neither maiden nor wife nor widow, living in a perilous limbo. Instead she meets James, a young man on the run. She shows him the secret ways across the treacherous marshy landscape of the Tidelands, not knowing she is leading a spy and an enemy into her life.
England is in the grip of a bloody civil war that reaches into the most remote parts of the kingdom. Alinor’s suspicious neighbors are watching each other for any sign that someone might be disloyal to the new parliament, and Alinor’s ambition and determination mark her as a woman who doesn’t follow the rules. They have always whispered about the sinister power of Alinor’s beauty, but the secrets they don’t know about her and James are far more damning. This is the time of witch-mania, and if the villagers discover the truth, they could take matters into their own hands.
“This is Gregory par excellence” (Kirkus Reviews). “Fans of Gregory’s works and of historicals in general will delight in this page-turning tale” (Library Journal, starred review) that is “superb… A searing portrait of a woman that resonates across the ages” (People).
In Ireland, Iona’s ancestors’ blood and magic have flowed through generations. Between lush forests, dazzling lakes, and centuries of legends, Iona knew that County Mayo is where her destiny awaits. When Iona arrives and lands a job at the local stable, she realizes she can make a home for herself – even if that means falling head over heels for the stable owner. But things take a wild turn when Iona realizes an ancient evil has wound its way around Iona’s family tree and must be defeated. Family and friends will fight with each other and for each other in book one of this captivating trilogy.
THE WITCH’S DAUGHTER is a historical novel that alternates between present-day England and 1628, following Elizabeth Anne Hawksmith. Elizabeth has spent the last 384 years keeping a dangerous secret—and running from an even more dangerous figure named Gideon, to whom she owes her life. This witchy tale is a page-turning story filled with romance, adventure, and magic.
A centuries-year-old witch looks back at her introduction to the craft in a small town in 1628 and through her various lifetimes as she struggles to evade the man who first taught her everything she knows.
Not all witches are women! One of my favorite novels, A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC takes place in London during the reign of King George III in the 1700s. Kell is one of the few magicians who has the power to travel between the four parallel dimensions of Londons. Officially, Kell is a messenger, but unofficially, he is a smuggler, sneaking contraband between worlds. But when he brings back an item from a long-destroyed world, he unleashes a dark magical force that threatens to take over his entire home.
After a young witch emerges from a curse, she finds that her entire world has transformed. For centuries, the vineyards at Château Renard have depended on the witches’ powers to help create their famous wine. But after being blindsided by a curse, Elana was confined to the marshlands as her magic slowly depleted. Now, after breaking the curse and struggling to return to her former life, Elena finds that a handsome stranger has taken over the vineyard she had always planned to inherit. Not to mention, the land is covered in hexes that she must combat. To help her vines recover and stay in the vineyard, Elena must hide her witchy powers. But rest assured, she will not stop until she defies the evil powers that threaten her beloved French valley.
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