Rise of the witches

Adrian Liang on October 30, 2019
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The power of witchcraft has fueled stories for centuries upon centuries. In them, women — or mostly women, as one of these books explains — tap into eerie forces and change the world.

Sometimes it works out pretty well.

Sometimes a house falls on you.

While the popularity of witches and witchery in books never completely ebbs, in the past year the Amazon Books editors have seen a resurgence in interest in the occult. Newly designed Tarot decks, memoirs about witchery in the family tree, and a rise of gothic novels are only a few signals that readers are entranced again by the fantastical.

Looking for a place to begin your own explorations? These three novels and three nonfiction books provide bewitching portals into new worlds.


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The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs by Katherine Howe

The editor of The Penguin Book of Witches and the author of a previous novel about the Salem witch trials, Katherine Howe has steeped herself in witches for years. In her newest novel, The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs, a professor with an expertise in the history of magic hides the secret that she herself is descended from a woman tried as a witch in Salem. And a woman who truly had otherworldly powers. History mixes with mysticism in Howe’s page-turner as the professor plunges into the past to break a curse.


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The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

Katherine Arden’s Winternight Trilogy managed an unusual feat: The Amazon Books editors chose all three Russian-set fantasy novels as Best Books of the Month. Starting with The Bear and the Nightingale, readers follow young Vasya’s adventures as she becomes one of the few who can still communicate with the old spirits who guard the hearth, calm horses, or lure unwary travelers into bogs. As power struggles in medieval Moscow are mirrored in the fantastical realm, Vasya must find a way for the old magic to work in the new world. Arden’s writing is almost luminescent in its power and emotion, and she delivers spare, white-hot storytelling that reaches its climax in The Winter of the Witch.


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The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith

When vine witch Elena Boureanu emerges from a curse that kept her encased in a toad’s body for seven years, the vineyard that she used to care for has fallen prey to complex hexes. Almost worse: It is now owned by a man from the city who cares only for scientific principles and nothing for the “superstitions” of the locals. Well, too bad, because Elena is going to help bring Château Renard back to its former glory, whether the new owner wants to believe in magic or not. Wine, sorcery, and a delicious dose of romance blend into an intoxicating read.


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Waking the Witch: Reflections on Women, Magic, and Power by Pam Grossman

Only a few pages into Waking the Witch, Pam Grossman delivers an eye-opening observation: “The fact that the resurgence of feminism and the popularity of the witch are ascending at the same time is no coincidence: the two are reflections of each other.” As someone who identifies as a witch and also knows her way around the mythological archetype, Grossman is the perfect guide into how the label of “witch” has changed and how it can — and should — be empowering to those who embrace it.

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Witchery: Embrace the Witch Within by Juliet Diaz

As a healer, seer, herbalist, and witch, Juliet Diaz understands the potent intersection between the natural world and the powers that live inside us. Her book Witchery not only offers insights into how to tap into your own magic but rituals to help focus that magic. However, not everyone is going to find their inner powers in the same way, nor struggle with the same obstacles. “Your journey is yours alone,” Diaz reminds readers, offering both a practical and positive guide for those considering witchcraft as a new path.


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Toil & Trouble: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs

The bestselling author of a number of memoirs, including Running with Scissors, Augusten Burroughs opens up on a personal topic he’s previously kept extremely private: his family history of witchcraft. And, Burroughs reveals, he has the Gift, too. Burroughs uses his witty, wide-open style to great effect as he relates his mother giving him the talk about witchcraft, his attempts to use it on his friends, and the fateful, magic-filled move with his husband from New York City to the country. Whether or not you believe in witchcraft as much as Burroughs believes, you’ll laugh with him all the way through.

This article was originally published on October 23, 2019, on Amazon Charts.


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