The Fictionfox Guide to Witch Fiction (updated)
Back in 2020, when the trend of witch-fiction was only in its infancy, I posted a guide of witchy recommendations, divided by genre and type of magic featured. Now, two years later, the genre has only continued to expand, and quite some gems have been added in the process. As such, I felt it time for an update. Without further ado, let's revisit this topic, now updated with the best witch-releases up to January 2023. As per usual; all entries are linked to their respective Goodreads pages for your convenience.
Witches in High-Fantasy
- The Witchland’s series – Susan Dennard In a continent on the edge of war, two witches, each blessed with a rare type of magic, hold its fate in their hands.
- The Witcher – Andrzej Sapkowski The famous fantasy by Polish author Sapkowski, featuring a supernatural monsterhunter and his interactions with a medieval world where monsters, witches and magick are real.
- War of Witches – Maite Caranza A teenage girl finds herself the center of an underground war between witch-clans, as her family might be privy to the knowledge and powers to end the age-old conflict for good.
- His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman After her best friend goes missing, a young girl's journey to find him being with a mysterious golden artifact, no larger than her palm. Soon, she finds herself entangled in a plot far larger than anything she could've imagined and must undertake a journey to the far North, where witch clans and armored bears rule and Gobblers take the children for nefarious purposes.
- The Winternight Trilogy – Katherine Arden This acclaimed fantasy trilogy with its roots deep in Russian folklore begins with a rebelious young girl with the gift of communication with the natural spirits of her home and land, as she seeks a bargain to save her empoveraged family from a freezing-death during the upcoming winter.
- The Binding – Bridget Collins The story of a young womans entrence into the trade of supernatural bookbinding, in a world where a world where magic is bound memory and words.
- The Lighthouse Witches – CJ Cooke Mysterious and terrible events have happened on this island. It started with a witch hunt. Now, centuries later, islanders are vanishing without explanation. Is it a coincidence, curse or something else entirely.
- The Ghostwoods – CJ Cooke A mysterious house tucked away in the woods has functioned for decenia as a commune for unwed women to give birth safely to their children. Yet tales of witchcraft and hauntings from the woods plague the halls.
- White is for Witching – Helen Oyeyemi Haunted house meets witchcraft, meets vampirism in this gothic tale of a woman's fraught relationship with a sentient(?) house.
- The Year of the Witching - Alexis Henderson A young woman living in a rigid, puritanical society discovers dark powers within herself in this stunning, feminist fantasy debut.
- The Women Could Fly – Megan Giddings A dystopian novel about the unbreakable bond between a young woman and her mysterious mother, set in a world in which witches are real and single women are closely monitored.
- The Bass Rock - Evie Wyld Surging out of the sea, the Bass Rock has for centuries watched over the lives that pass under its shadow on the Scottish mainland. And across the centuries the fates of three women are linked: to this place, to each other.
- The Change – Kirsten Miller In the Long Island oceanfront community of Mattauk, three different women discover that midlife changes bring a whole new type of empowerment…
- The Mercies – Kiran Millwood Hargrave After a storm has killed off all the island's men, two women in a 1600s Norwegian coastal village struggle to survive against both natural forces and the men who have been sent to rid the community of alleged witchcraft.
- The Once and Future Witches – Alix E. Harrow A historical tale that intertwines the suffragist-movement of the late 1800 with a fantastical narrative of witchcraft and magick.
Small-town Thrillers featuring Witchcraft
- Hex – Thomas Olde Heuvelt A genuinly unsettling horror novel based on a local legend of my personal Dutch hometown of Nijmegen/Beek.
- The Witch in the Well – Camilla Bruce When two former friends reunite after decades apart, their grudges, flawed ambitions, and shared obsession swirl into an all-too-real echo of a terrible town legend.
- The Glass Women – Caroline Lea Rebecca meets Burial Rights this claustrophobic thriller set against the cold background of Icelands inhospitable landscape and ancient saga's . - The Near Witch – V.E. Schwab An old story told to frighten the children of the small town of Near into obedience might hold more truth than anyone imagined.
Part original dark fairytale, part revenge quest; a puritarean thriller featuring demons, witchcraft and a small helping of feminist rights on the side.
Teenage Witches for YA-readers
- Winterwood – Shea Ernshaw A haunting romance perfect for fans of Practical Magic,where dark fairy tales and enchanted folklore collide after a boy, believed to be missing, emerges from the magical woods—and falls in love with the witch determined to unravel his secrets.
- The Lost Coast – Amy Rose Capetta The spellbinding tale of six queer witches forging their own paths, shrouded in the mist, magic, and secrets of the ancient California redwoods.
- Spellbook of the Lost and Found – Moira Fowley Doyle Over the courseof the summer, Olive and her best friend, Rose, begin to lose things. As the teens unearth an ancient spellbook and carry out a spell to return lost items, they don't anticipate the consequences.
- Our Crooked Hearts – Melissa Albert A near collision with a nude young woman on a tree-lined road at night, kicks off a series of ominous events for 17-year old Ivy. When she finds out that her mother was subject to a similar series of events during her teenage years, Ivy sets off on a quest to uncover family secrets.
- A Lesson in Vengeance – Victoria Lee Dark academia meets witch-craft in this fantasy-mystery about a murder at a girls boardingschool filled with secret covens and occult practices.
- House of Hollow – Krystal Sutherland Three young girls go missing without a trace, only to return a month later with a strange crescent scar at the base of their neck and their hair ashen white. Their father soon comes to a disturbing conclusion: whatever returned to his house, they aren’t his daughters… Ten years later, the Hollow sisters attempt to find answers as to what happened to them, when their oldest sister disappears without a trace.
- Perfectly Preventable Deaths – Deidre Sullivan Fifteen-year-old twins Madeline and Catlin investigate the legend surrounding their strange isolated town, where, for the last sixty years, teenage girls have gone missing in the surrounding mountains.
- Extasia – Claire Legrand With echoes of The Village, and The Witch, and strong themes of feminism, Extasia is set in a dystopian world where the few survivors live in an isolated cult-like survivors patriarchal commune. Until a dark force beneath the nearby mountain seemingly sets its sights on their male leaders.
Childfriendly Witches for Middle-grade Readers
- A Pinch of Magic – Michelle Harrison A spellbinding middle grade fantasy about three sisters--adventurous Betty, curious Charlie, and proper Fliss--who go on a quest to break the curse that's haunted their family for generations.
- The Girl Who Drank the Moon – Kelly Barnhill Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. But the witch is nothing like the stories told about her; instead she is gentle and kind and raises one of the sacrificed girls as her own, feeding her with magic and moonlight.
- The Last Windwitch – Jennifer Adams A young hedgewitch’s apprentice struggls to convince her fickle magic to actually do what it’s meant to, until she discovers her talents may lie in a different branch of magic altogether. Unfortunately, that other magic makes her a target for some powerful people, incluing the Evil Queen and her huntsman.
- Witches of Willow Cove – Josh Roberts A magical middle-grade adventure about six teenage girls who discover their powers of witchcraft on their thirteenth birthday.
- Spells of Lost Things – Jenna Evans Welsh A poignant and romantic novel about two teens trying to find their place in the world after being unceremoniously dragged to Salem, Massachusetts, for the summer.
- In the Shadow Garden – Liz Moore Three generations of empathic garden-witches must discover where their magic went wrong as secrets resurface that could solve a twenty-year-old mystery in this heartwarming debut.
- Witches of Moonshyne Manor – Bianca Marais Five octogenarian witches end up in hot waters as they are unable to afford the mortgage on the titular manor they've made their magical safe haven. In order to preserve their way of living this coven of modern-day witches must pull of a magical heist with heavy consequences.
A warm and uplifting novel about an isolated witch whose opportunity to embrace a quirky new family--and a new love--changes the course of her life.
Tales of Bruja’s: Latinx witches
- The Inheritance of Orquindea Divina – Zoraida Cordova Upon her death, a family matriarch blesses the women in her family with a set of unusual gifts and blessings. When a hidden figure begins to tear through their family tree, picking them off one by one as it seeks to destroy Orquídea’s line, it becomes clear that their inheritance might hold more than helpful magic after all.
- The Hacienda – Isabel Canas Mexican Gothic meets Rebecca in this debut supernatural suspense novel, set in the aftermath of the Mexican War of Independence, about a remote house, a sinister haunting, and the woman pulled into their clutches...
- Cemetery Boys – Aiden Thomas When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.
- Witches – Brenda Lozano The beguiling story of a young journalist whose investigation of a murder leads her to the most legendary traditional healer in all of Mexico.
Own-Voice Witch-tales by black authors
- Children of Blood and Bone – Tomi Adeyemi A runaway princess and a rebel warrior team up to reclaim the magic that was taken from their people in a bloody war that ravaged their kingdom.
- Akata Witch – Nnedi Okorafor A 12-year old albino girl, who recently moved from New York City to Aba, Nigeria, has a difficult time fitting into her new enviroment. Will her latent and newly discovered powers help her build a community for herself, or isolate her even more.
- Conjure Women – Afia Atakora A mother and daughter with a shared talent for healing—and for the conjuring of curses—are at the heart of this literary fiction novel set in the South, right before and after the Civil War.
- Kingdom of Souls – Rena Barron Heir to two lines of powerful witchdoctors, a girl with no gifts must bargain for the power to fight her own mother’s dark schemes—even if the price is her life.
Elemental & Natural Witches
- They Drown Our Daughters – Katrina Monroe A woman returns to her childhood home at the shores of Cape Disappointment, and finds her family caught up in a century-old curse that haunts the local waters and has taken the lives of the women in her family for generations. Is it witchcraft, or something more "natural"?
- The Nature of Witches – Rachel Griffin For centuries, witches have maintained the climate, their power from the sun peaking in the season of their birth. But now their control is faltering as the atmosphere becomes more erratic. All hope lies with Clara, an Everwitch whose rare magic is tied to every season.
- The Grisha Trilogy – Leigh Bardugo A teenage orphan who grows up in the Russia-inspired land of Ravka when, discovers a dorment power she never knew she had, when trying to save her childhood best friend. Soon she becomes a target of intrigue and violence, as she might be "the Chosen One" to overcome the dark ruler.
- The Fifth Season – N.K. Jemisin The highly acclaimed fantasy series set in a world where natural disasters have wrecked vast continent known as the Stillness, and the apocalyps (or in this case: change of the seasons)is immenent. It's up to our three protagonists, all oregenes - humans with the ability to manipulate the earth, to survive in this inhospitable world.
Green Witches, Hedge witches and Herbal Magic
- Circe – Madeline Miller A powerful, character-driven retalling of the story of the mythological witch Circe, most known for her appearance as a secondary antagonist in Homers Odyssey.
- Wise Child – Monica Furlong In a remote Scottish village, nine-year-old Wise Child is taken in by Juniper, a healer and sorceress. Then Wise Child's mother, Maeve, a black witch, reappears. In choosing between Maeve and Juniper, Wise Child discovers the extent of her supernatural powers--and her true loyalties.
- Wildwood Whispers – Willa Reece A heartwarming novel of hope, fate, and folk magic unfolds when a young woman travels to a sleepy southern town in the Appalachian Mountains to bury her best friend.
- The Queens of Innis Lear – Tessa Gratton The erratic decisions of a prophecy-obsessed king have drained Innis Lear of its wild magic, as his three daughters prepare for a battle for succession in this fantasy-retelling of Shakespears classic King Lear.
- Now She is Witch – Kirsty Logan In rich and immersive prose Kirsty Logan conjures a world of violence and beauty in which women grasp at power through witchcraft and poisons, through sexuality and childbearing, through performance and pretence, and most of all through throwing other women to the wolves. This is a witch story unlike any other.
Blood-, Death- and Bone-Witches
- Nettle and Bone – T Kingfisher A woman sets off to complete 3 impossible tasks, helped by a ragtag team of improbable companions in order to save her sister from an abusive marriage in this dark modern fairytale. But, as is the way in tales of princes, witches, and daughters, the impossible is only the beginning.
- The Price Guide to the Occult – Leslye Walton In this haunting dark tale, we follow the dynamic between a mother and daughter from a cursed family, after mother turns to black and destructive magic following the trauma that followed from said curse.
Twenty-five years ago, five heroes risked their lives to defeat the bone maker Eklor—a corrupt magician who created an inhuman army using animal bones. But victory came at a tragic price. Only four of the heroes survived. Haunted by the loss, one of them sets out to resurrect their fallen comrad.
A girl discoveres she has a gift for necromancy, as she accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead.