Witches are having something of a literary moment. Then again, witches should always be having a moment. Whether they’re the dangerous variety, ready to hex the world, or the misunderstood kind, just looking to survive in it, witches have long been a mainstay of the horror genre, and now more than ever, their stories are being told through the perspective of the witches themselves. So if you’d like to make 2021 a bit more magical, here are a few fantastic books about witches that you should conjure to the top of your reading pile immediately.
A Hawk in the Woods, Carrie Laben
Family can make your life hell, something that Abby Waite knows all too well. Along with her twin sister Martha, she unexpectedly travels back to the family abode for a reunion that has dire and arcane consequences. Carrie Laben’s 2019 debut novel from Word Horde is so many things wrapped up in one: a tale of complicated families, as well as an ode to dark magic, folk horror, and the Weird. A perfect read for genre fans looking for something different and surreal.
The Year of the Witching, Alexis Henderson
Last year saw a huge number of witchcraft books hit the shelves, but a major standout in the group is this debut from Alexis Henderson. Already an outcast, a young woman begins to unravel the secrets of her unforgiving puritanical community while also unraveling the secrets in her own family. Gorgeous, devastating, and unflinching, this is one tale of witchcraft that you won’t want to miss.
Literary Witches: A Celebration of Magical Women Writers, Taisia Kitaiskaia
A one-of-a-kind encyclopedia of bewitching female authors, this is truly a book you need to read to believe. With gorgeous illustrations by Katy Horan and poetical mini-biographies by Taisia Kitaiskaia, Literary Witches highlights a diverse group of writers from Sappho and Mary Shelley to Angela Carter and Octavia Butler, celebrating the lives of thirty different visionary female creators. Whenever I need inspiration, just holding this book in my hands immediately lifts my spirits. Witchcraft if ever there was such a thing.
Root Magic, Eden Royce
Author Eden Royce has a particular knack for exploring and reinventing folklore, and with her debut novel, she takes her incredible storytelling to a whole new level. Set in South Carolina in the early 1960s, young Jezebel Turner and her twin brother Jay are beginning to learn rootwork, a form of African American folk magic their family has been practicing for many years. But just as they start to get a handle on their growing magic, the twins are forced to face off with new threats of evil in their town, testing Jezebel and Jay in ways they never expected. Although it’s early in the year, it’s already fair to say that Root Magic is sure to be one of the best books in 2021, so definitely pick up a copy now.
Editor’s Note: You can read our interview with Eden Royce here.
Hex Life: Wicked New Tales of Witchery, ed. Christopher Golden & Rachel Autumn Deering
These short stories, edited by Christopher Golden and Rachel Autumn Deering, are a unique treat for witchcraft fans. Featuring a talented array of female authors, including Kat Howard, Chesya Burke, Alma Katsu, Theodora Goss, Angela Slatter, Mary SanGiovanni, and so many more, this is a table of contents filled to the brim with the most vibrant voices working in fantasy and horror today. Needless to say, if you’re looking for a dose of enchanting horror, you certainly can’t go wrong with this anthology.