The best books if you are seeking witchery

Who am I?

I’ve always loved fantasy. My mother told me fairy stories and I read every book of myth and legend in my local library. I’ve continued to read and love books of fantasy and magic. I guess it’s not surprising that all four of my novels and most of my short stories have a speculative aspect to them. Having grown up with the traditional view of the aged, ugly crone luring children away to their doom, I especially love stories of witches that come at the topic of witchcraft from a different angle. I live in the East of England, where the infamous witch-hunts of the seventeenth century took place.

I wrote...


By J.S. Watts,

Book cover of Witchlight

What is my book about?

Witchlight is the first novel in my Witchlight trilogy and where it all begins. Holly has been mortal all her life. Now at thirty-eight, her fairy godfather arrives to tell her she’s a witch, and suddenly she's having to come to terms with the uncertainties of an alarmingly magic-fuelled world. Magic is not like it is in the books and films, and Holly starts to doubt whether her fairy godfather, Partridge Mayflower, is the fey, avuncular charmer he appears.

When appearances are magically deceptive, Holly cannot afford to trust those closest to her, including herself. Accidents start to happen, people die, Old Magic is on the hunt, but in the age-old game of cat and mouse, who is the feline and who is the rodent?

The books I picked & why

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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.

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.

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. 


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.

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.

5 book lists we think you will like!

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