The witchy books I can’t wait to read this year

Not even I know what I mean when I say I’m “feeling the witchy vibes” (which I declare almost every other week), but it’s true – I’m feeling the witchy vibes. I was born feeling the witchy vibes and I’ll probably die feeling them too, while I patiently wait for my magical powers to appear.

But I do love everything about witches: to me, they represent the beautiful, powerful mistique of womanhood. I’ve been trying to become a witch since my years of middle school, when I used to make love potions and sleep with them under my pillow (they never worked, if you’re wondering).

Books, of course, played a huge part in me falling in love with these powerful creatures, and nowadays, they still inspire me immensely. These are six my must-read witchy books for 2020 – and if you’re as convinced you’re a witch as I am, they need to be on your TBR too.

The Witch’s Daughter, by Paula Brackston

In the spring of 1628, the Witchfinder of Wessex finds himself a true Witch. As Bess Hawksmith watches her mother swing from the Hanging Tree she knows that only one man can save her from the same fate at the hands of the panicked mob: the Warlock Gideon Masters, and his Book of Shadows. (…) She couldn’t have foreseen that even now, centuries later, he would be hunting her across time, determined to claim payment for saving her life.

In present-day England, Elizabeth has built a quiet life for herself, tending her garden and selling herbs and oils at the local farmers’ market. But her solitude abruptly ends when a teenage girl called Tegan starts hanging around. Against her better judgment, Elizabeth begins teaching Tegan the ways of the Hedge Witch, in the process awakening memories—and demons—long thought forgotten. Part historical romance, part modern fantasy, The Witch’s Daughter is a fresh, compelling take on the magical, yet dangerous world of Witches. 

Doesn’t this historical romance + witchy combo sound amazing? A witch who wears gorgeous boots (if the book cover’s any indication) and travels through time and now sells herbs and oils at the local farmers’ market is everything I need to read about right now, honestly. This book is at the top of my list this year.

A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness

Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks.

But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

I bought this book the other day, so it’s safe to say I’m going to read it very, very soon. I know there’s a TV show now (I’ve stayed as far away from spoilers as I possibly can), and honestly I’m a little afraid that the daemons and vampires thing is going to be a bit too much, since I’m usually more into low fantasy/magical realism. However, I love a good university setting and this book was recommended to me when I asked for titles I could read after loving Practical Magic, so it’s definitely happening!

The Rules of Magic, by Alice Hoffman

For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man. Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. 

From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are.

Speaking of Practical Magic – Alice Hoffman published The Rules of Magic, a book about the mysterious Owens aunts, in 2017, and I’m definitely reading it this year. Words cannot describe how much I loved Practical Magic, so I have gigantic expectations for this book. There’s another one, this time about the OG witch Maria Owens, being launched this fall, and I can’t wait to buy it too and read all three in chronological order.

Garden Spells, by Sarah Addison Allen

The women of the Waverley family – whether they like it or not – are heirs to an unusual legacy, one that grows in a fenced plot behind their Queen Anne home on Pendland Street in Bascom, North Carolina. There, an apple tree bearing fruit of magical properties looms over a garden filled with herbs and edible flowers that possess the power to affect in curious ways anyone who eats them.

For nearly a decade, 34-year-old Claire Waverley, at peace with her family inheritance, has lived in the house alone, embracing the spirit of the grandmother who raised her, ruing her mother’s unfortunate destiny and seemingly unconcerned about the fate of her rebellious sister, Sydney, who freed herself long ago from their small town’s constraints. Using her grandmother’s mystical culinary traditions, Claire has built a successful catering business – and a carefully controlled, utterly predictable life – upon the family’s peculiar gift for making life-altering delicacies: lilac jelly to engender humility, for instance, or rose geranium wine to call up fond memories.

With Sydney’s homecoming, the magic that the quiet caterer has measured into recipes to shape the thoughts and moods of others begins to influence Claire’s own emotions in terrifying and delightful ways. As the sisters reconnect and learn to support one another, each finds romance where she least expects it, while Sydney’s child, Bay, discovers both the safe home she has longed for and her own surprising gifts.

I can already smell the magical apple pie, and I’m not mad about it. This sounds like a delicious story about two sisters reconnecting and finding love (and eachother) again, but with a culinary twist. I have to eat read it ASAP.

Witch Child, by Celia Rees

Enter the world of young Mary Newbury, a world where simply being different can cost a person her life. Hidden until now in the pages of her diary, Mary’s startling story begins in 1659, the year her beloved grandmother is hanged in the public square as a witch.

Mary narrowly escapes a similar fate, only to face intolerance and new danger among the Puritans in the New World. How long can she hide her true identity? Will she ever find a place where her healing powers will not be feared?

Maybe the darkest book in the list (it’s also the only one that’s considered YA), Witcher Child touches on subjects like the witch hunts and trials that happened throughout the 1600s. I’m very excited to read this one, mainly as research and because I want to know more about what happened at this time in history. And I love a good dark read.

The Familiars, by Stacey Halls

Young Fleetwood Shuttleworth, a noblewoman, is with child again. None of her previous pregnancies have borne fruit, and her husband, Richard, is anxious for an heir. Then Fleetwood discovers a hidden doctor’s letter that carries a dire prediction: she will not survive another birth. By chance she meets a midwife named Alice Grey, who promises to help her deliver a healthy baby. But Alice soon stands accused of witchcraft.

Is there more to Alice than meets the eye? Fleetwood must risk everything to prove her innocence. As the two women’s lives become intertwined, the Witch Trials of 1612 loom. Time is running out; both their lives are at stake. Only they know the truth. Only they can save each other.

Inspired by the real Pendle Hill Witch Trials, this book sounds like a beautiful, magical, yet sad hommage to female friendship. The characters are actual historical figures (Alice Grey was one of the 12 women present in the trials), which makes me very excited about the overlap between fiction and reality in this book.

Honorable mention: the entire Sabrina the Teenage Witch collection

This is a honorable mention because it probably won’t happen, but I’d love to reread at least some of the books from the Sabrina the Teenage Witch collection this year.

I read all of them when I was in middle school (looking back, I’m so grateful that the school library had them) and they were my favorite thing in the entire planet. I can’t convince myself to buy them because I’m afraid I won’t love them as much as I used to, but I’ll be looking for them in the charity shops, for sure!

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