A classic in its own rite, Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic is as timeless as it is relatable. Through heartbreak, hauntings, loss, and spellwork, Gillian and Sally Owens come to terms with their birthright as witches and their destiny as women. Together, Hoffman’s heroines embrace the legacy of their matrilineal line and find solace in the present by confronting the past they once ran from. A lyrically luminous novel about the boundlessness of sisterhood, Practical Magic is a fictive sigil that will enchant even the biggest skeptic.
Whether you consider yourself to be a witch or not, Basic Witches by Jaya Saxen and Jess Zimmerman is a heartning and immersive grimoire for anyone who wants to manifest their dreams, embrace the future with confidence, or build meaningful community (or coven) with others. Uplifting and timely, Saxen and Zimmerman’s rituals and spells are for readers who “want to dismantle the cultural conditioning that trains women to be weak and small.” From crafting a personal mantra and coping with grief to banishing anxiety and honoring your inner divinity through self care, Basic Witches is the sort of book you’ll return to again and again. It’s a survival guide for being alive.
The Penguin Book of Witches
Throughout history being a witch–or being perceived as a witch–has been a dangerous thing. The Penguin Book of Witches is harrowing yet necessary examination of the witch during the middle ages in Europe and the colonial era in America. From Biblical depictions of the witch to the violent witch hunts of the 1500s and the infamous trials in Salem, the pages of this book are haunting, not because of those who were condemned, but because of those who chose misogyny and puritanical fear over empathy and tolerance. Each warrant for arrest, recorded examination, and coerced confession is a testament to a dark past and what can happen when those in power are left unopposed by the populus.
In the introduction to Inner Witch: A Modern Guide to the Ancient Craft, Gabriela Herstik reminds her audience of the radical nature of the witch: “Being a witch means living in this world consciously, powerfully, and unapologetically.” A luminescent primer to ritual and spellwork, Herstik’s book includes overviews of countless forms of divination like sympathetic moon magic, tarot, fashion magick, and the power of talismans along with guides on how to cast a circle, craft a grimoire, and how to honor holidays like the winter solstice, Candlemas, and Beltane. Inner Witch is an inspired meditation on contemporary witchcraft and its oldest roots.
The Complete Sabrina the Teenage Witch: 1962-1971
In 1962, Sabrina Spellman made her debut in the Archie universe. Long before Bewitched, The Craft, and the power of three, the story of a half-mortal teen witch charmed the hearts of comic book lovers and continued to do so for over five decades. Whether you’ve religiously devoured the 1990s sitcom or stayed up until the witching hour binge watching back-to-back episodes of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, this collection of over 500 pages featuring your favorite teen witch is a quintessential read for fans of all stripes. The Complete Sabrina the Teenage Witch is a undoubtedly spellbinding addition to any bookshelf.
Bestseller Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Witch follows Sunny, a 12-year-old girl who exists between worlds. As an albino Nigerian girl who was born in America, Sunny is either feared or ostracized because she is different until a foreboding vision changes everything. As an unexpected bond with a classmate blossoms, Sunny discovers that she possesses magical powers, a Leopard person, and a powerful witch. Together she and her new friends rally together to combat an evil that threatens to destroy the the world. A coming of age story about friendship, courage, and the power that can be found in celebrating what makes you different, Akata Witch is a vivid and dynamic narrative with a memorable heroine at its center.
The Witches of Eastwick
Literary powerhouse John Updike’s 1984 suburban novel is an iconically camp examination of gender, desire, and class. Following the misadventures of a coven of divorcees and their dealings with the diabolically sleazy Darryl Van Horne, The Witches of Eastwick’s strength lies in its ability to make readers laugh and gasp in shock within the span of a page. It’s a testament to Updike’s breadth as a storyteller and his mastery of dark wit.
The Witching Hour
Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour is a gripping saga that follows the Mayfair family and the powerful witches whose secrets and spellwork shaped their past and present. The novel begins with Rowan, a successful neurosurgeon as she heads to New Orleans in the wake of her mother’s death in hopes of uncovering her family’s history. As she digs deeper into her ancestral roots, Rowan beings to manifest psychic abilities, which forces her to reckon with the legacy of her matrilineal line and the trajectory of own destiny. A riveting tale about love and fate, The Witching Hour will mesmerize you from beginning to end.
In a world of sorcery and battling kingdoms, 17-year-old Agnieszka’s life is turned upside down when the Dragon, a sinister wizard, chooses Agnieszka to become his servant in adherence to an age old tradition and a decree from the King that insists all citizens with magical powers undergo training to develop their abilities. Devastated by the possibility of never getting to see her family again and her best friend Kasia again, Agnieszka determination to overthrow the Dragon so that she can conjure a future where she and those she loves can be free from the tyranny of those who suppress them. A stirring portrait of friendship and self-discovery, Uprooted is the sort of will linger in your mind long after the last page is turned.
Undead Girl Gang
When the death of Mila’s best friend Riley is followed by the alleged suicides of Dayton and June, two popular girls in her hometown, she turns to the practice that she and Riley once shared: Wicca. Through ritual, Mila copes with the chaos of her grief by raising her best friend from the dead. Although this reunites Mila with Riley, the ritual comes with unexpected consequences, including the reanimation of Dayton and June. Together, Mila, and her now-zombie friends attempt to find the culprit responsible for the bloodshed in their town. A heartfelt bildungsroman with a magical twist, Lily Anderson’s undead girl gang is a graveyard smash.
The Witch in Every Woman
In Laurie Cabot and Jean Mill’s 1997 must-read, the witch is defined as an archetype that has “survived in order to protect and empower us.” The Witch in Every Woman: Reawakening the Magical Nature of the Feminine to Heal, Protect, Create, and Empower pairs Cabot and Mill’s personal experiences as witches with an illuminating exploration of how ritual and community can uplift and empower those who are willing to embrace their inner witch. Each chapter urges us to stay truth to our own path, to trust our intuition, and to never forget that “our stories are the ancient stories of tomorrow.”
Healing Magic, 10th Anniversary Edition
Robin Rose Bennett
Healing Magic by Robin Rose Bennett is a widely acclaimed and enchanting compendium of meditations, stories, recipes, spells, stories, and rituals that honor the earth. From herbalism and candle magic to lunar and bath rituals, each chapter is an enlightening and sensible guide for practitioners who are looking for ways to infuse magic into their everyday lives in a sustainable yet meaningful way. A touchstone for witches of all ages Healing Magic encourages us “to honor and delight in our sacred senses, [and] to trust our intuition.”
The Black Arts
From high and low magic to Aleister Crowley and Satanism, Richard Cavendish’s comprehensive overview of all things pagan gives readers a detailed yet engaging glimpse into one of the most feared and demonized aspects of ancient and modern culture. With each page, Cavendish’s exploration of paganism’s historical roots and its contemporary evolution challenges age old stereotypes that have stigmatized pagans for centuries. A lengthy, yet memorable title, The Black Arts an essential read, especially for those who follow the path of night.
Half Spent Was the Night
Half Spent was the Night opens on Christmas day the three Witches of New York–Adelaide Thom, Eleanor St. Clair, Beatrice Dunn–sit in the glow of a hissing fire. While they share haunting tales of Yueltide ghosts and roast chestnuts in an attempt to divine their fate in the forthcoming New Year, an invitation to a stranger’s New Year Eve masquerade ball arrives. In the days that follow, Adelaide, Eleanor, and Beatrice attempt to decipher whether the ball’s hostess is a fellow sister witch or something sinister. An irresistible page-turner set in the Gilded-Age, McKay’s witchy thriller is the perfect way to make the most of your winter solstice.
If you’re having a hard time figuring out what to do in between rewatches of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’s A Midwinter’s Tale, don’t worry. You’re not alone. For those of us who prefer to ring in the yuletide season with ghost stories instead of cheerful carols, cozying up with a witchy read isn’t just an ideal way to celebrate the final turn of the wheel of the year, it’s the only way. As Mōdraniht draws nigh, deck your altar with evergreen and mistletoe, light your candles, and embrace the inescapable magic of the written page.
‘Tis the season, witches.
Photo credit: Warner Bros. Television