The best books if you are seeking witchery

The Books I Picked & Why

Wyrd Sisters

By Terry Pratchett

Book cover of Wyrd Sisters

Why this book?

I love Terry Pratchett’s writing: the humour, the bite, the insightfulness. Wyrd Sisters is the sixth novel in his wonderful Discworld fantasy series and returns us to the doings of the three witches: Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat Garlick. Any references to Shakespeare’s Macbeth witches or the traditional trilogy of crone, mother, and maiden are purely intentional. Granny Weatherwax with her dry and dour outlook on life, her wisdom, and the power she downplays as little more than “headology” is one of my favourite Discworld characters. At least one of the books about Witchery that I recommend has to have her in it. This is it.

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Witchfinders: A Seventeenth-Century English Tragedy

By Malcolm Gaskill

Book cover of Witchfinders: A Seventeenth-Century English Tragedy

Why this book?

If you mention witches, most people think fantasy novels, but this is a factual history about the real life witch-hunts that took place across the East of England in the 17th Century. It unpicks the brutal and most likely self-serving crusade of the original Witchfinder General, Mathew Hopkins and the religious hysteria of the time. It is a worthy counterbalance to classic horror films such as Witchfinder General and to all the varied and imaginative fiction that has been written about witches and witchery over the centuries, my own included.

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The Weirdstone of Brisingamen

By Alan Garner

Book cover of The Weirdstone of Brisingamen

Why this book?

I adore the way Alan Garner weaves myth and folklore into stories of the everyday world. If I could write as well as him, I’d be one very happy writer. It therefore goes without saying that I had to choose one of his books. The Weirdstone is a fantasy novel for children, but I enjoy his children’s books as much as his adult novels. This was the first book of Garner’s that I read and though he has since fallen out of love with it, I haven’t. The witches of the morthbrood are on the side of darkness in this tale. Two children, Colin and Susan, have to protect the small jewel in Susan’s bracelet, which, unknown to her, is the Weirdstone, against the powers of darkness who want it for themselves. 

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By R.A. MacAvoy

Book cover of Damiano

Why this book?

The first in a trilogy of books of magical fantasy set in Renaissance Europe and beyond that looks at magic and witchery at an unusual slant. Centre stage is Damiano Delstrego: son of a wizard and alchemist with an inheritance of Dark Magics. Forced out by war, he goes on pilgrimage to seek the aid of the powerful witch Saara, but the road he is obliged to walk is a dark one. R. A. MacAvoy is another writer I have admired for a long time and I was very sad when ill health stopped her from writing. I believe, however, that she has started to write again, so I can but hope for new novels while recommending her older, skillful work.

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Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

By J.K. Rowling

Book cover of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Why this book?

The first novel in the Harry Potter Series. The one in which Harry discovers he’s a wizard and goes to Hogwarts for the first time. Perhaps it is a bit obvious, but with Hermione Granger labeled as the cleverest and brightest witch of her generation, I couldn’t pass it by. This is another book written for children but read by adults and children alike. I read the whole series as an adult and was hooked. Younger readers have come of age reading Harry Potter and the book has generated a rich fantasy world in print, on film, and in the minds of its many fans.

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