From warts to warlocks, spells to Samhain – there are more great witchy stories out there than you can poke a wand at. My personal Top 5 witch-picks are:
The Raven Boys – Maggie Stiefvater
This brand new book is contemporary paranormal in a classically pagan way. Blue is a sensible and rather ordinary teen in a family of psychics. They say if Blue kisses her true love, he will die. But Blue has two rules: One, stay away from boys, because they’re trouble. And two, stay away from Aglionby Academy (aka Raven) boys, because they’re bastards. So what happens when she sees the ghost of a boy who is not yet dead? A Raven Boy whose quest is about to crash into her world in a very big way.
It’s humorous and imaginative, spooky and surreal. The characters are so vivid and Stiefvater’s writing so sharp you just want to eat the pages in the hope that digesting the words will make your life as extraordinary.
Back in my day…
Witches were bald, toeless, and out to eliminate children, right? Roald Dahl does witches like no other, and his book The Witches is a classic that engages readers of all ages. I loved it
when I was young, and I still love it today. And the only time I won a Book Week costume parade was when I dressed as The Grand High Witch. It involved a swimming cap and a wig.
Of course the other classic Witch is C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Although personally I always preferred the witch’s origin story, in The Magician’s Nephew. Turkish delight, anyone?
See on you on Platform 9 3/4
It’s not a witch-list without the contemporary-come-classic Harry Potter, is it? Pages packed with witches (and wizards). Shall we dual over whether Hermione, Luna, or Professor McGonagall is the best witch?
Into the imagination of Terry Pratchett (and Neil Gaiman)
Speaking of Professor McGonagall… surely the most iconic older witch is Granny Weatherwax? Anyone who has dabbled in (or obsessively hoarded) Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels will have a favourite set of characters. Mine has always been the witches. Pratchett’s books overflow with humour, wit, and pointed contemporary observations (translated into a fantasy setting).
The best news is, if you think Equal Rites, Wyrd Sisters, Witches Abroad, Lords and Ladies, Maskerade, and Carpe Jugulum are a touch on the adult side for your teen readers, allow me to introduce Tiffany Aching – the witch of the Chalklands, written specifically for children. She has four books to her name, beginning with The Wee Free Men.
When you’ve run out of Pratchett novels, you can segue nicely into the mind and magic of Neil Gaiman (Stardust, and, arguably, Coraline) via their co-written book Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch.
You probably know of LJ Smith through her popular series come television show The Vampire Diaries. Well, if you’re over bit-lit please dive into her witchy series The Secret Circle (which has been re-released this year).
If you prefer to mix up your vampires and witches then I would recommend LJ Smith’s Night World series, which I like to think of as Twilight without the bad aftertaste.
That’s my personal Top 5 witchy recommendations. If you happened to count more than five, what can I say… it must be magic.
Other highly-recommended witch-themed reads are:
- Works by legendary author Dianna Wynne Jones eg Witch Week, and Howl’s Moving Castle
- Celia Rees - Witch Child
- Tamora Pierce’s The Song of the Lioness series (the Alanna books)
- Gregory Maguire’s twist on The Wizard of Oz – Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
- Sarah Rees Brennan’s brand new series The Lynburn Legacy
- James Patterson’s Witch & Wizard series
- Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters series
- Marianne Curley’s Old Magic
- Margaret Mahy eg The Changeover, and Alchemy
Which witch is your favourite? What other titles would you recommend?
Update 13/10/12: By the power of social media, we’ve just had this great Australian title recommended to us: Van Badham’s Burnt Snow. Any other recommendations?