8 Magical Reads Brewing with Spells, Curses, and Hexes

October 25 2022
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Whether you like October for its shiver-inducing scares or its surreal sense of magic, you’ll love these eight books that all center on spells, curses, and hexes. Captivatingly atmospheric and filled with moody intrigue, these books include everything from multigenerational family sagas to eerie tales that will haunt you. The curses in these books might not be real, but their ability to enchant certainly is!

The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina
by Zoraida Córdova

In this spellbinding family saga, the Montoya family has never questioned the magical occurrences that happen around their reclusive matriarch, Orquídea Divina. But when they attend her funeral and discover that she has become a ceiba tree that infuses three of her descendants with unexplainable gifts, it seems the magic in their blood is beyond even their own imagining. Years later, when a mysterious figure begins destroying Orquídea’s bloodline one at a time, descendants Marimar, Rey, and Rhiannon must travel to Ecuador to discover the secrets of their matriarch’s past.

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The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina
Zoraida Córdova

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

Perfect for fans of Alice Hoffman, Isabel Allende, and Sarah Addison Allen, a family searches for the truth hidden in their past in this “expertly woven tale of family power, threaded with as much mystery as magic” (V.E. Schwab, #1 New York Times bestselling author).

The Montoyas are used to a life without explanations. They know better than to ask why the pantry never seems to run low, or why their matriarch won’t ever leave their home in Four Rivers—not for graduations, weddings, or baptisms. But when Orquídea Divina invites them to her funeral and to collect their inheritance, they hope to learn the secrets that she has held onto so tightly their whole lives. Instead, Orquídea is transformed into a ceiba tree, leaving them with more questions than answers.

Seven years later, her gifts have manifested in different ways for Marimar, Rey, and Rhiannon, granting them unexpected blessings and powers. But soon, a hidden figure begins to tear through their family tree, picking them off one by one as it seeks to destroy Orquídea’s line. Determined to save what’s left of their family and uncover the truth behind their inheritance, her descendants travel to Ecuador—to the place where Orquídea buried her secrets and broken promises and never looked back.

Alternating between Orquídea’s past and her descendants’ present, The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina is a “spellbinding tale, both timeless and fresh, that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page. Prepare to fall in love” (Kim Liggett, New York Times bestselling author).

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The Empire of Dirt
by Francesca Manfredi & Ekin Oklap

Growing up in the Italian countryside with her mother and grandmother, Valentina has always heard rumors of a family curse, rumors that her mother strongly denies. But the summer when Valentina gets her period for the first time proves the curse to be unnervingly real: blood begins leaking from her house’s walls, frogs overrun the farm, and the kitchen becomes choked with flies. In this captivating coming-of-age story, Valentina must grapple with who she is meant to be amid a torrent of family tensions and secrets.

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The Empire of Dirt
Francesca Manfredi & Ekin Oklap

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MENTIONED IN:

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Magic Lessons
by Alice Hoffman

An enchanting prequel to the Practical Magic series, MAGIC LESSONS traces a generations-long curse back to its source. It’s the 1600s and Maria, abandoned as a baby, is taken in by Hannah Owens. From Hannah, Maria learns the “Nameless Arts” as well as life’s most important lesson: always love someone who will love you back. Years later, when Maria is abandoned by the man she loves, she follows him to Salem, Massachusetts, where she will make a fateful decision that will change lives for years to come.

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Magic Lessons
Alice Hoffman

In this “ bewitching” (The New York Times Book Review) novel that traces a centuries-old curse to its source, beloved author Alice Hoffman unveils the story of Maria Owens, accused of witchcraft in Salem, and matriarch of a line of the amazing Owens women and men featured in Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic.

Where does the story of the Owens bloodline begin? With Maria Owens, in the 1600s, when she’s abandoned in a snowy field in rural England as a baby. Under the care of Hannah Owens, Maria learns about the “Nameless Arts.” Hannah recognizes that Maria has a gift and she teaches the girl all she knows. It is here that she learns her first important lesson: Always love someone who will love you back.

When Maria is abandoned by the man who has declared his love for her, she follows him to Salem, Massachusetts. Here she invokes the curse that will haunt her family. And it’s here that she learns the rules of magic and the lesson that she will carry with her for the rest of her life. Love is the only thing that matters.

Magic Lessons is a “heartbreaking and heart-healing” (BookPage) celebration of life and love and a showcase of Alice Hoffman’s masterful storytelling.

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The Fortunes of Jaded Women
by Carolyn Huynh

Ever since Oanh left her marriage for the love of her life, her descendants have been cursed to never find love and to give birth only to daughters. Mai, one of Oanh’s descendants, can’t help but think the curse must be real, since she finds herself divorced, estranged from her two sisters, and worried over her own three daughters, who, though successful, can’t seem to find happiness. When her psychic tells her that the year to come will bring one marriage, one funeral, and the birth of a son, Mai begins to wonder if the curse is at an end.

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The Fortunes of Jaded Women
Carolyn Huynh

For fans of Jonathan Tropper, KJ Dell’Antonia, and Kevin Kwan, this “sharp, smart, and gloriously extra” (Nancy Jooyoun Kim, The Last Story of Mina Lee) debut follows a family of estranged Vietnamese women—cursed to never know love or happiness—as they reunite when a psychic makes a startling prediction.

Everyone in Orange County’s Little Saigon knew that the Duong sisters were cursed.

It started with their ancestor, Oanh, who dared to leave her marriage for true love—so a fearsome Vietnamese witch cursed Oanh and her descendants so that they would never find love or happiness, and the Duong women would give birth to daughters, never sons.​

Oanh’s current descendant Mai Nguyen knows this curse well. She’s divorced, and after an explosive disagreement a decade ago, she’s estranged from her younger sisters, Minh Pham (the middle and the mediator) and Khuyen Lam (the youngest who swears she just runs humble coffee shops and nail salons, not Little Saigon’s underground). Though Mai’s three adult daughters, Priscilla, Thuy, and Thao, are successful in their careers (one of them is John Cho’s dermatologist!), the same can’t be said for their love lives. Mai is convinced they might drive her to an early grave.

Desperate for guidance, she consults Auntie Hua, her trusted psychic in Hawaii, who delivers an unexpected prediction: this year, her family will witness a marriage, a funeral, and the birth of a son. This prophecy will reunite estranged mothers, daughters, aunts, and cousins—for better or for worse.

A multi-narrative novel brimming with levity and candor, The Fortunes of Jaded Women is about mourning, meddling, celebrating, and healing together as a family. It shows how Vietnamese women emerge victorious, even if the world is against them.

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Defenestrate
by Renee Branum

This gorgeous and powerful debut meditates on all the ways one can fall: from falling in love to falling off roofs. Marta and her twin brother, Nick, have long known about their family’s ancestral curse that dooms every member of their clan to some form of falling. When they discover a devastating family secret, the two return to their family’s homeland of Prague to try to grapple with their legacy. But upon their return to the Midwest, Nick himself falls from a balcony, leading Marta to reflect on the truths they’ve kept from each other and from themselves.

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Defenestrate
Renee Branum

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House of Names
by Colm Toibin

HOUSE OF NAMES is told through the perspective of one of Greek mythology’s greatest villains: Clytemnestra, the wife of King Agamemnon. In the nine years since her husband left to fight a war against Troy, Clytemnestra has never forgotten the way Agamemnon sacrificed their own daughter for favor in battle. She’s also found herself a new lover and a place of power overseeing Mycenae in her husband’s absence. When he returns, she’s promised herself that she will rid herself of this man who has betrayed and abandoned his family, once and for all.

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House of Names
Colm Toibin

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A Wilderness of Stars
by Shea Ernshaw

Teenaged Vega has lived her whole life with her mother in the valley, training to be one of the last Astronomers, those who carry the knowledge of the stars. But when her mother dies and she sees an omen in the skies, Vega sets out to see the world beyond her home. There, she discovers a terrifying illness that destroying humanity and people who will do anything to harness her power as the Last Astronomer. Determined remain a protector, Vega teams up with a young girl named Cricket and boy with his own secrets, Noah, to find a cure.

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A Wilderness of Stars
Shea Ernshaw

Deluxe edition with special embellishments on first printing only!

In this magical romance from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Long Live the Pumpkin Queen, an illness cursing the land forces a teen girl astronomer to venture across the wilderness in search of the stars’ message that will, hopefully, save them all.

When all is lost, look to the stars.

Vega has lived in the valley her whole life—forbidden by her mother to leave the safety of its borders because of the unknown threats waiting for her in the wilds beyond. But when Vega sees an omen in the sky—one she cannot ignore—she is forced to leave the protective boundaries of the valley. Yet the outside world is much more terrifying than Vega could have ever imagined. People are gravely sick—they lose their eyesight and their hearing, just before they lose their lives.

But Vega has a secret: she is the Last Astronomer—a title carried from generation to generation—and she is the only one who understands the knowledge of the stars. Knowledge that could hold the key to a cure. So when locals spot the tattoo on Vega’s neck in the shape of a constellation—the mark of an astronomer—chaos erupts. Fearing for her life, Vega is rescued by a girl named Cricket who leads her to Noah, a boy marked by his own mysterious tattoos.

On the run from the men hunting her, Vega sets out across the plains with Cricket and Noah, in search of a fabled cure kept secret by the astronomers. But as the line between friends and protectors begins to blur, Vega must decide whether to safeguard the sacred knowledge of the astronomers…or if she will risk everything to try to save them all.

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Wild Witchcraft
by Rebecca Beyer

If this list makes you want to cast your own curses, learn how with this book! Rebecca Beyer uses her years of experience as an Appalachian witch to provide an approachable and thoughtful guide to herbalism and natural magic. Geared toward helping us get in touch with the untamed world around us, WILD WITCHCRAFT covers everything from how to start and maintain your own herb garden to spells and rituals you can conduct by sustainably using the resources that surround you.

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Wild Witchcraft
Rebecca Beyer

Learn how to cultivate your own magical garden, begin your journey with folk herbalism, and awaken to your place in nature through practical skills from an experienced Appalachian forager and witch.

Witchcraft is wild at heart, calling us into a relationship with the untamed world around us. Through the power of developing a relationship with plants, a witch—beginner or experienced—can practice their art more deeply and authentically by interacting with the beings that grow around us all. Bridging the gap between armchair witchcraft and the hedge witches of old, Wild Witchcraft empowers you to work directly with a wide variety of plants and trees safely and sustainably.

With Wild Witchcraft, Rebecca Beyer draws from her years of experience as an Appalachian witch and forager to give you a practical guide to herbalism and natural magic that will share:
-The history of witchcraft and Western herbalism
-How to create and maintain your own herbal garden
-Recipes for tinctures, teas, salves, and other potions to use in rites and rituals
-Spells, remedies, and rituals created with the wild green world around you, covering a range of topics, from self-healing to love to celebrating the turning of the seasons
-And much more!

Wild Witchcraft welcomes us home to the natural world we all dwell in by exploring practical folk herbal and magical rites grounded in historical practices and a sustainable, green ethic.

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Photo credit: iStock / Alexthq

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