Alice Hoffman’s truly magical novel has been capturing imaginations for over twenty years—and it’s no different this Halloween. Ancestral witches Gillian and Sally Owens have been ostracized by their small Massachusetts community since childhood. Their aunts care nothing about what other people think, but Gillian and Sally need to escape. One does so by choosing a conventional life free of magic, while the other runs away. But even witches can’t escape their real selves, and eventually, their sisterly bond brings them back home.
A Discovery of Witches (Movie Tie-In)
The first in Harkness’s New York Times-bestselling All Souls trilogy, A Discovery of Witches will enchant you. Young student Diana Bishop discovers a powerful manuscript deep in the stacks of an Oxford library. As it turns out, she’s a descendant of witches. Upon opening the manuscript, she finds herself in a fantastic, magical world. An excellent choice if you’re a fan of Harry Potter or The Magicians.
The Penguin Book of Witches
If you want to go beyond Salem into the larger history of witches, Katherine Howe is your teacher. She’s collected historical documents about witches dating back to 1597 when King James wrote a manual for witch hunters to follow. Howe illuminates the dark corners of history, showing us the real stories behind legends of witchcraft in England and North America.
The Witches of Eastwick
Updike’s 1984 novel continues to enthrall readers with its story of three divorced women who come into mysterious powers. In a tiny seaside town where very little ever happens, three witches are suddenly levitating, turning milk into cream, and summoning thunderstorms. Events take a darker turn when a rich stranger moves in and begins spending time with their little coven. That’s when scandalous gossip begins to overtake the community.
Perhaps the best way to explore the Salem witch trials is through Arthur Miller’s famous play, which describes in terrifying detail how one individual’s accusation can spread like wildfire into an epidemic of mass hysteria. An allegory to McCarthyism that is still relevant to life and politics today.
Drawing Down the Moon
Fully revised in 2006, Margot Adler’s classic study of Neo-Paganism tells the truth about a widely misunderstood religious group. Learn about the history of real witchcraft and paganism through Adler’s interviews with a diverse range of believers across the United States. The precursor to Alex Mar’s memoir of investigative journalism, Adler’s volume is extremely comprehensive.
What list of witch books would be complete without Roald Dahl’s? The famous children’s book invents a fearsome type of witch, one who hates children and will do anything to eliminate them. This is unfortunate for one little boy who, after years of listening to his Grandma’s stories, actually meets the terrifying leader of all the witches: the Grand High Witch. Get the edition with the glow-in-the-dark cover for some extra Halloween fun!
Double, double, toil and trouble…when it’s time for Halloween, it’s time for witches! Whether your version of a witch is green of skin, bald with claws, a colonial woman in Salem, or a modern polytheist, Read It Forward has a book for you. Curl up with the charming Owens sisters or discover the fascinating underground world of magic in America with journalist Alex Mar. Travel to present-day Salem, Massachusetts with J.W. Ocker and then learn about the city’s notorious witch trials through Stacy Schiff’s historical research. Forever mysterious and fascinating, the figure of the witch is here to stay in our collective imagination.