The best witchy YA books

The Books I Picked & Why

The Near Witch

By V.E. Schwab

Book cover of The Near Witch

Why this book?

My favorite thing about The Near Witch is that the protagonist makes terrible choices. I find characters who always do the “right thing” boring, and their growth arcs less satisfying. Be prepared not to understand Lexi at first, but I promise she’s endearing in the end.

I’ve read negative reviews that everything isn’t wrapped up perfectly in The Near Witch, but I enjoyed the story’s sense of realness. My preference is for a captivating story, not always one with every answer. The Near Witch is notably different compared to Schwab’s later works, but as someone with a growth mindset, this only makes me love this book more. If you’re a big fan of her work, go into her debut novel expecting something quieter and I bet you’ll be delighted.

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Bad Witch Burning

By Jessica Lewis

Book cover of Bad Witch Burning

Why this book?

Grab a box of tissues before you sit down with this book. It does contain on the page animal death, which is something I can hardly ever bring myself to read. (Literally, it’s part of my author brand, that nothing bad ever happens to the dogs in my books!) But the fact that I still recommend Bad Witch Burning speaks to what an amazing writer Jessica Lewis is.

The pain of the poverty that Katrell experienced felt so real to me. I was rooting for her so hard that I had to stop reading several times because I was crying. So you have been warned, this book will destroy you. But experiencing something so intense in fiction is a rare treat. I’m so excited to read whatever Lewis writes next. 

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The Wicked Deep

By Shea Ernshaw

Book cover of The Wicked Deep

Why this book?

If you ever find yourself spellbound by the beauty of a sentence, enchanted by the lushness of language, The Wicked Deep is for you. The premise that two centuries ago, three perfume peddling sisters were drowned for being “witches” and now they terrorize the water every summer solstice by possessing teenage girls and seducing young men in order to drown them is so dark and dreamy, I just adore it.

My favorite thing about the book is the plot twist! It’s definitely one of those books you read again, searching for little clues you may have missed. Again, not every answer is apparent in the text, but this story is so enchanting you’ll want to read it again to formulate your own theories.

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Blood Like Magic

By Liselle Sambury

Book cover of Blood Like Magic

Why this book?

All you need to know: witches in the future. That’s it. That’s the review. Go read this book. Okay, in all seriousness, this is one of those books that you almost throw at people without explanation. I should note it has some sensitive content—from the author: “Whipping scene within the context of slavery, gun/police violence, discussion of and character with an eating disorder, blood/gore/violence, death, substance abuse/addiction, mentions of child neglect."

As an added note, there are mentions of systems existing in the book which misgender trans people that are discussed by the characters.

So yes, lots of heavy subject matter. But this book will blow you away. And the cover is stunning so treat yourself to the hardcover. Go on, I insist. Thank me later.

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Akata Witch

By Nnedi Okorafor

Book cover of Akata Witch

Why this book?

The worldbuilding in Akata Witch is incredible, it is the kind of book that transports you into an entirely new environment. You will genuinely forget you're reading, glance up, and realize hours have passed! I love the emphasis on friendship and teamwork. And, the main character deals with bullying at school and has to learn to open up and rely on others (which is uniquely challenging when you also view them as potential threats). She has to learn how to find people she can trust. I highly recommend Akata Witch if you're looking for a story you can lose yourself in.

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