Over centuries, the label “witch” has been assigned to subversive individuals with atypical thoughts and behavior. Literature exposing or extolling the existence of witches and their powers has persisited from folklore to MacBeth to Harry Potter. The definition of “witch” has expanded over time to include anyone who practices non-traditional rites and remedies, with many practitioners now embracing the term. Recently, in books and media, witches are more likely to be portrayed as strong protagonists—misunderstood more than maligned, seeking to heal rather than to harm.

For this month, a time when we celebrate everything spooky, I wanted to list some recent works that address witches and witchcraft in a new light. Even for staunch disbelievers, these are books that have entertained and enchanted.

The Lace ReaderThe Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

"...a haunting and remarkable tale told by an unforgettable, if strangely unreliable narrator--a woman from an enigmatic Salem family who can foretell the future in patterns of lace.

Hour of the WitchHour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian

"A twisting, tightly plotted thriller from one of our greatest storytellers, Hour of the Witch is a timely and terrifying novel of socially sanctioned brutality and the original American witch hunt."

Snow, Glass, ApplesSnow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman & Colleen Doran (Graphic Novel):

"A chilling fantasy retelling of the Snow White fairy tale by New York Times bestselling creators Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran."

The Witch's HeartThe Witch's Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

"When a banished witch falls in love with the legendary trickster Loki, she risks the wrath of the gods in this fierce, subversive debut novel that reimagines Norse myth."

A Discovery of WitchesA Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (All Souls #1)

"A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.

The Once and Future WitchesThe Once and Future Witches by Alix Harrow

"In the late 1800s, three sisters use witchcraft to change the course of history in Alix E. Harrow's powerful novel of magic and the suffragette movement."

The Book of MagicThe Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman (Practical Magic #2)

"Master storyteller Alice Hoffman brings us the conclusion of the Practical Magic series in a spellbinding and enchanting final Owens novel brimming with lyric beauty and vivid characters."

The Physick Book of Deliverance DaneThe Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

"A spellbinding, beautifully written novel that moves between contemporary times and one of the most fascinating and disturbing periods in American history--the Salem witch trials."

The Very Secret Society of Irregular WitchesThe Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna

"A warm and uplifting novel about an isolated witch whose opportunity to embrace a quirky new family--and a new love--changes the course of her life."

A Secret History of WitchesA Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan

From early 19th century Brittany to London during the Second World War, five generations of witches fight the battles of their time, deciding how far they are willing to go to protect their family, their heritage, and ultimately, all of our futures.

Guides, histories, memoirs (even a cookbook!) for the curious:

Wild WitchcraftWild Witchcraft : Folk Herbalism, Garden Magic, and Foraging for Spells, Rituals, and Remedies by Rebecca Beyer

Learn how to cultivate your own magical garden, begin your journey with folk herbalism, and awaken to your place in nature through practical skills from an experienced Appalachian forager and witch.

Toil & TroubleToil & Trouble by Augusten Burroughs

"From the hilarious to the terrifying, Toil & Trouble is a chronicle of one man's journey to understand himself, to reconcile the powers he can wield with things with which he is helpless."

A History of Magic, Witchcraft and the OccultA History of Magic, Witchcraft & the Occult, foreword by Suzannah Lipscomb.

A lavishly illustrated history of witchcraft, magic, and the occult, from Paleolithic cave rituals to Wicca and modern paganism."

The Witch's FeastThe Witch's Feast : A Kitchen Grimoire by Melissa Jayne Madara

A decadent collection of magical dishes and feasts created by the herbalist, witch, chef and co-owner of Catland Books, Melissa Madara.

Summaries sourced from publishers' marketing materials

October's Featured Reviews

The Lost ApothecaryThe Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
Now is Not the Time to PanicNow is Not the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson

Hop on the Holds List

1. It Starts with Us - Colleen Hoover

2. Our Missing Hearts - Celeste Ng

3. Mad Honey - Jodi Picoult

4. The Winners - Taylor Jenkins Reid

5. Little Eve - Catriona Ward

Recent Readings

I have recently finished reading Finlay Donovan Knocks 'Em Dead by Elle Cosimano and Little Weirds by Jenny Slate. I also just finished listening to The Therapist by B.A. Paris. Fans of Janet Evanovich may want to give Cosimano's series a try.

Right now, I am reading Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus and listening to The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth on Libby.

Does October encourage you to explore the unexplained and mystical? What would it take to make you believe in magic? Please let me know your thoughts: jnmegan@gpl.org.

Happy Haunted Halloween!

Until next time: Be safe, be well and be well-read!


So, who am I, anyway? I am a resident of West Groton, with a husband, 3 children in college (and one at GDRHS) and a Samoyed that keeps my vacuum well-employed. I am currently working part time at the Groton Public Library and in a former life I was a Director or PR/Marketing at a high-tech consulting firm. My BA is in Psychology, but most of my time was spent in college earning a Concentration on the Novel. That is all to say that I make no claims at being an expert of any kind and my thoughts, opinions and mistakes are solely my own. I am just a person whose passion for books has continued to grow from the moment I was first able to grip and gnaw on them. I have been devouring them ever since.

Oct 01, 2022 / Joelle M Egan