Take Ten: Witches

If you’re a kid of the 20th Century, you probably dressed up as a witch one Halloween. With so many fun fictional witches to choose from – like the Wicked Witch of the West, here – many of us had a good time turning ourselves into hags (or pretty witches, if you happened to be a fan of, say, Bewitched).

And while Hermione might be what the younger generation pictures when they hear the word, witches certainly haven’t gone away, they’ve just gotten more interesting. Pick up one of these novels and brew up a good time this Halloween season, my pretty!


Dark Witch – Nora Roberts

  • Morgana Donovan, a beautiful woman gifted with extraordinary abilities, proves to Nash Kirkland, a hardheaded skeptic who is using her to research his latest screenplay, that magic really does exist. (First in the fourbook Donovan Legacy series.)

Dead Witch Walking – Kim Harrison

  • American Iona Sheehan searches for her Irish ancestors, the O’Dwyers, to learn more about her powers and break an ancient curse, and meets Boyle McGrath. (First in the Cousins O’Dwyer trilogy.)

A Discovery of Witches – Deborah Harkness

  • Discovering a magical manuscript in Oxford’s library, scholar Diana Bishop, a descendant of witches who has rejected her heritage, inadvertently unleashes a fantastical underworld of daemons, witches and vampires whose activities center around an enchanted treasure. (First in the All Souls trilogy.)

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane – Katherine Howe

  • Forced to set aside her Ph.D. research in order to help the settling of her late grandmother’s abandoned home, Connie Goodwin discovers a hidden key among her grandmother’s possessions that is linked to a darker chapter in Salem witch trial history.

Practical Magic – Alice Hoffman

  • The story of two sisters, Gillian and Sally Owens, brought up by their elderly guardian aunts in a small New England town. The aunts possess magic that they in turn hand down to their nieces. (New prequel: The Rules of Magic)

A Secret History of Witches – Louisa Morgan

  • Follows five generations of women—all of whom happen to be witches—from 19th-century Brittany to London during World War II.

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West – Gregory Maguire

  • Set in an Oz where a morose Wizard battles suicidal thoughts, the story of the green-skinned Elphaba, otherwise known as the Wicked Witch of the West, profiles her as an animal rights activist striving to avenge her dear sister’s death. (First in the Wicked Years four-book series.)

The Witches of Eastwick – John Updike

  • Alexandra, Jane, and Sukie ply their individual witcheries in contemporary Eastwick, Rhode Island, and are themselves bewitched by a dark, wealthy, decadent stranger. (Next read: The Widows of Eastwick)

The Witches of New York – Ami McKay

  • A tale inspired by Manhattan’s 19th-century witchcraft revival finds a celebrated teahouse proprietress and a gifted medium teaming up with a dream interpreter in the aftermath of a psychic colleague’s disappearance.

The Witching Hour – Anne Rice

  • Moving in time from today’s New Orleans and San Francisco to long-ago Amsterdam and the France of Louis XIV, Anne Rice introduces a dynasty of four centuries of witches–a family that over the ages is itself haunted by a powerful, dangerous, and seductive being called Lasher who haunts the Mayfair women. (First in the Mayfair Witches trilogy.)


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