Trick or Treat - Ten Books Featuring Witches

The word witch may conjure images of cauldrons, cackles and broomsticks, or witch-hunting trials and persecutions of women, or even modern witchcraft, a contemporary religion based around a reverence for nature. So what do you think of when you hear the word witch? For me a whole variety of images and thoughts sit in my minds eye. Witch is still used as an insult today, usually against women, should it be? Witch-hunt, again is a term still in use, tens of thousands of people were executed for the crime of witchcraft, and the history of witch-hunting still fascinates us. Whatever it means to you, we hopefully have a book in this list that will appeal at a time of year when witches dance to the fore. One of my favourite characters in fiction is Granny Weatherwax, she of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld fame, Granny is smart, complex, and totally fabulous! This list featuring witches, has a non-fiction book about modern witchcraft, and a history of witch-hunting in 17th century Massachusetts, a number of wonderful novels are also included from historical, and fantasy fiction, through to young adult novels too. Enjoy!

The Ruin of All Witches

The Ruin of All Witches

Author: Malcolm Gaskill Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/11/2021

Oh my, The Ruin of All Witches is absolutely fascinating! Detailing the witch-hunting that took place in a frontier town in Massachusetts during 1651, this is a darkly enthralling read. The author describes it as a historical reconstruction rather than a novel. Written using historical documentation including court records, sermons, letters, diaries, deeds, and wills, this dual sense of story and history ensures a deeper awareness. It begins almost as a fairytale would, the style of writing placed me in time and location. I was able to look around and soak up the atmosphere. I felt a connection to the place and people, could reach a level of appreciation for thoughts and feelings. Examining small details, looking behind fears, beyond survival, makes this an accessible and thought-provoking read. The maps help plant the location, the Sources and Methods detailed at the back confirm the thought process behind this book. Malcolm Gaskill is a leading expert in the history of witchcraft and his knowledge and research shows. The Ruin of All Witches is a vivid, captivating and intriguing walk into the past and I’ve chosen it as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month.

Star Books
A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches

Author: Deborah E. Harkness Format: Paperback Release Date: 29/09/2011

The first in the All Souls trilogy, it’s 640 pages of pure pleasure. Involving, intriguing and compelling, this book may look long but, trust me, it’s well worth it. The premise is that our world contains three types of supernatural being: vampires, witches and demons. They interact with humanity, often as our greatest creative artists and benefactors, but basically they live hidden lives. And what happens when a vampire falls in love with a witch …? Of course, there is so much more here; conspiracy, history, mythology, mystery, ghosts, even the promise of time travel. It’s big in all senses, an epic work, and it’s not over. Start here and then move on to the following two books in this wonderful series. Books in the All Souls Trilogy:1. A Discovery of Witches2. Shadow of Night3. The Book of Life In February 2011 Book One in The All Souls Trilogy, A Discovery of Witches was unleashed on the world and became a global smash hit. A Sunday Times and New York Times top ten bestseller it has gone on to sell over 1.5 million copies as well as being sold into 38 foreign territories and a Warner Bros film adaptation is underway. The sequel Shadow of Night, published in July 2012, was a No.1 New York Times and No.2 Sunday Times bestseller, surpassing the success of the first book. The final novel in the series, The Book of Life was published in July 2014. Serial Reader? Check out our 'Fall in Love With a Book Series' collection to find amazing book series to dive in to.

eBooks of the Month
Witch

Witch

Author: Finbar Hawkins Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/10/2020

A gobble-it-up fiery and intense yet thoughtful debut novel about family, betrayal, and witchcraft. Opening the pathway to a fabulous historical fantasy series this calls out as a must-read for young adults. Set during the civil war in 17th century England, 15 year old Evey has to flee with her little sister Dill when her mother is murdered. As with all good young adult novels, it is perfectly easy to slide into and really enjoy as an adult too, particularly with the wonderful cover drawing you in. Touching history, it flies into fantasy, as author Finbar Hawkins examines the meaning of witch. Evey is a complex character and as she tells her own story she has the ability of self-reflection, even if she doesn’t always like what she sees. Witch is a read that fair on crackles with energy, it also encourages thoughts to both consider and soar and deservedly sits as one of our LoveReading debuts of the month.

Debut Books of the Month
The Familiars

The Familiars

Author: Stacey Halls Format: Paperback Release Date: 19/09/2019

A stunningly beautiful, courageous read, one that crosses through time to 1612, when witchcraft allegations went hand in hand with fear, power and corruption. This is a work of fiction based on real people, local residents, Pendle witches and all. Let me tell you about the cover of this book, which really is very gorgeous indeed. The green leaves sooth, with fiery bursts of orange-red and gold, I then noticed the fox, the ring, pendant, feather… and last of all, the noose, which of course once I had seen, reached out and became all I could see. I tell you this, because the cover reminds me of how I felt about the book, mysterious, yet almost gentle, I let the words take me, I felt myself floating, and then bites of uncertainty and disquiet started gnaw at my awareness. The persecution of the women hammered home while an otherworldly existence lodged itself in my thoughts, and remains there. Deceptively powerful, moving and provocative, Stacey Hall writes with an eloquent pen. Opening a window into a vivid feast of a read, as a debut novel The Familiars stands out from the crowd. Visit our 'Women's Words - 60+ works of feminist-minded fiction' to explore our collection of feminist-minded fiction from around the world, and across centuries.

Debut Books of the Month
Circe

Circe

Author: Madeline Miller Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/04/2019

The Song of Achilles was a beautiful and evocative retelling of a Greek myth which well deserved its praise and prize.  It is possible that this second offering is even better.  The language is poetic with not a word wasted, a real joy to read.  I remember Circe was one of the challenges met by Odysseus, the one who turned men into pigs.  The beautiful character who narrates this story is that same “wicked witch” but a far cry from how Homer portrayed her.  She is lovely, misunderstood, wilful and brilliant, a strong woman slowly growing into her power.  Many famous mythical figures pepper these pages; Jason, Prometheus, the Minator … but don’t worry if you haven’t heard of them all, this spellbinding story gives you all you need to know.  If you are familiar with the myths you will find new life in them in this enchanting retelling.  I really cannot praise it enough.  It is a special book, bridging romance, fantasy, poetic literature and feminist writing to create a work of high standard with wide appeal.  I loved it and I think you will too.

eBooks of the Month
The Wheel

The Wheel

Author: Jennifer Lane Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/10/2021

This fascinating and engaging read will satisfy the reading curiosity of anyone who has an interest in witchcraft, pagan paths, or those who miss nature in their stressful daily lives. Nature journalist Jennifer Lane charts a year in her life after realising that she needed to step outside of the anxiety of her office based environment. I travelled with Jennifer as she looked back to her past and began to reconnect with her love for nature and witchcraft. I joined her in festivals and rituals, various courses including Shamanism and Astrology, and on her walks in our natural environment. This is a gentle and thoughtful introduction to Witchcraft and Paganism, a group of contemporary religions based around a reverence for nature. Jennifer describes her beliefs as: “balance, harmony, and living seasonally”. In the 2011 census, over 56 thousand people identified as pagan, however it is likely that numbers are far higher, as due to other people’s misunderstanding or falsification of the religion, it can remain a hidden part of their lives. The Wheel is a thought-provoking and interesting glimpse into Jennifer’s love for nature and witchcraft. 

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
The Mercies

The Mercies

Author: Kiran Millwood Hargrave Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/07/2021

Totally, completely, and utterly gorgeous, this is a beautifully written historical relationship tale with real bite. And can I just qualify the word relationship - this is about the relationships with family, community, fear, nature, as well as the more obvious love. A work of fiction inspired by history, the story begins on Christmas Eve in 1617 when a sudden and violent storm takes the lives of forty fishermen, leaving the stunned women folk learning to survive on their remote northerly Norwegian island. Still reeling from the tragedy, their lives turn in the most frightening direction when the King brings in sorcery laws and a commissioner is installed to root out evil. This is Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s debut adult novel, and I feel as though I have been waiting my reading life for it. The prologue hits with a huge sad inevitability. Kiran Millwood Hargrave writes with a sensitive and considerate pen, the descriptions are truly breathtaking. While there are some savage shocks in store, The Mercies is still a warm, thoughtful and touching read. Chosen as a Liz Robinson pick of the month, we also just had to include The Mercies as a LoveReading Star Book too. Visit our 'Women's Words - 60+ works of feminist-minded fiction' to explore our collection of feminist-minded fiction from around the world, and across centuries.

Star Books
The Winter of the Witch

The Winter of the Witch

Author: Katherine Arden Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/10/2019

Oh what a beautiful all-consuming dream of a ride this is. Set in Moscow, a young woman finds herself at the centre of a battle for both humanity and a deep hidden magic. The Winter of the Witch is the third in the ‘Winternight’ trilogy, however, I confess that this was my first read of the three. I would most definitely recommend starting at the beginning with The Bear and the Nightingale as I’m now desperate to experience the wonder of the rest of the story, though it’s worth noting that the writing is so good, I immediately felt completely at home. I fell entranced into the pages and within the first few chapters I was so at one with the sense of place and characters, I actually cried at a heart-stopping moment. While the feel of a deep dark fairy tale washes over the pages, Katherine Arden creates a vivid realist bite and also encouraged me to connect as deeply with the more challenging characters as the more loveable ones. The Winter of the Witch is a fascinating, engaging, quite glorious read and I absolutely adored it. Highly recommended.

Audiobooks of the Month
Trial by Fire

Trial by Fire

Author: Josephine Angelini Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/08/2014

Fabulously different, this wonderfully exciting novel captures your imagination and allows it to soar alongside a truly captivating cast of characters. Lily Proctor, sick and traumatised, is lured into a parallel world, one where witches and magic rule over science. This magic is not cheery and sparkly but takes a toll on those able to use it; this magic feels real, alive, formidable. Lily is strong yet fragile, caring and kind yet determined; add an identical but frighteningly different Lily (Lilian), then three intriguing champions into the mix and you have a firecracker of a read. It will almost physically hurt when you turn the last page, you will be left wishing there was just one more sentence, one more paragraph, one last chapter to end this thoroughly bewitching book.  ~ Liz Robinson Books in the Worldwalker Trilogy: 1. Trial By Fire 2. Firewalker 3. Witch's Pyre Serial Reader? Check out our 'Fall in Love With a Book Series' collection to find amazing book series to dive in to.  

eBooks of the Month
Equal Rites

Equal Rites

Author: Terry Pratchett Format: Paperback Release Date: 21/06/2012

The first book in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series to feature the witches in a starring role, Equal Rites is a wonderful introduction to Granny Weatherwax. While Witches Abroad is perhaps my favourite in the Witches series within a series, there is much to cackle and ponder over in this, the third Discworld novel. Her character develops quite beautifully through the books, and Granny is perhaps my most beloved character (ever) to appear in print. I am an admirer of her use of headology, and adore her relationship with Nanny, Magrat, Tiffany, and of course Death. If you’ve not yet met the totally fabulous Granny, do introduce yourself, I’m sure she would be delighted to greet you.

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