The best witchy YA books

Who am I?

Growing up in New Orleans, my love of all things magical is the native fruit of the culturally rich soil I was planted in. Witches both fascinate and scare me a little. Reading and writing fiction helps me process what’s hiding behind those fears. My debut novel, Mind Like a Diamond explores thirteen of the most common fears in the form of a competition-style haunted house. Like many of the books on this list, it might give you nightmares. But sometimes being scared is so wonderfully thrilling, you can’t put the book down. For more book recommendations from me, bookish memes, and writing tips follow me on Instagram.

I wrote...

Mind Like a Diamond

By Amanda Pavlov,

Book cover of Mind Like a Diamond

What is my book about?

Teenage gymnast Lisette is skeptical about her mother’s claims that they’re descended from pirate witches. But when threatened with eviction, Lisette becomes desperate to save her French Quarter apartment and the colony of neighborhood cats she has come to adore. 

She learns of a cursed competition with a huge cash prize and quickly enlists her best friend Xavier to enter with her. Xavier is skeptical about the shady waiver, but would follow Lisette to the ends of the earth. She’s more concerned about winning than worrying about what these sketchy people might do to her. But this Halloween night, Lisette will learn that you don’t have to believe in magic for it to kill you.  

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Near Witch

Amanda Pavlov Why did I love 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.

By V. E. Schwab,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Near Witch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY'S BEST YA OF THE DECADE * NEW YORK TIMES bestseller * Brand new edition of Victoria Schwab's long out-of-print, stunning debut

The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.

There are no strangers in the town of Near.

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life. But when an actual stranger, a boy who seems to fade like smoke, appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at…

Book cover of Bad Witch Burning

Amanda Pavlov Why did I love 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. 

By Jessica Lewis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bad Witch Burning as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For fans of Lovecraft Country and Candyman comes a witchy story full of Black girl magic! One girl′s dark ability to summon the dead offers her a chance at a new life, while revealing to her an even darker future.

“Practical Magic meets Black Girl Magic in this powerful addition to the YA canon. I couldn′t put it down.” —#1 New York Times Bestselling Author Victoria Schwab

Katrell can talk to the dead. And she wishes it made more money. She’s been able to support her unemployed mother—and Mom’s deadbeat-boyfriend-of-the-week—so far, but it isn’t enough. Money’s still tight, and to…

Book cover of The Wicked Deep

Amanda Pavlov Why did I love 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.

By Shea Ernshaw,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Wicked Deep as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

Hocus Pocus and Practical Magic meets the Salem Witch trials in this haunting story about three sisters on a quest for revenge - and how love may be the only thing powerful enough to stop them.

Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow...

Two centuries ago, in the small, isolated town, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town. Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return from the depths, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may…

Book cover of Blood Like Magic

Amanda Pavlov Why did I love 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.

By Liselle Sambury,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Blood Like Magic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

"High stakes, big heart, and lots of Black Girl Magic...unputdownable." -Aiden Thomas, New York Times bestselling author of Cemetery Boys

A rich, dark urban fantasy debut following a teen witch who is given a horrifying task: sacrificing her first love to save her family's magic. The problem is, she's never been in love-she'll have to find the perfect guy before she can kill him.

After years of waiting for her Calling-a trial every witch must pass to come into their powers-the one thing Voya Thomas didn't expect was to fail. When Voya's ancestor gives her an unprecedented second chance to…

Book cover of Akata Witch

Amanda Pavlov Why did I love 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.

By Nnedi Okorafor,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Akata Witch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Affectionately dubbed "the Nigerian Harry Potter," Akata Witch weaves together a heart-pounding tale of magic, mystery, and finding one's place in the world.

Twelve-year-old Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born American. Her features are African, but she's albino. She's a terrific athlete, but can't go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in. And then she discovers something amazing-she is a "free agent" with latent magical power. Soon she's part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But will it be…

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At What Cost, Silence?

By Karen Lynne Klink,

Book cover of At What Cost, Silence?

Karen Lynne Klink Author Of At What Cost, Silence?

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Child abuse survivor Reader Adventure traveler Animal lover

Karen's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Secrets, misunderstandings, and a plethora of family conflicts abound in this historical novel set along the Brazos River in antebellum Washington County, East Texas.

It is a compelling story of two neighboring plantation families and a few of the enslaved people who serve them. These two plantations are a microcosm of a country on the brink of war, encompassing a variety of issues: love and friendship between men, relationships between fathers and sons, sibling rivalry, slavery, and the position of women in society.

At What Cost, Silence?

By Karen Lynne Klink,

What is this book about?

Adrien Villere suspects he is not like other boys. For years, he desperately locks away his feelings and fears-but eventually, tragedy and loss drive him to seeking solace from his mentor, a young neighbor Jacob Hart. Jacob's betrayal of Adrien's trust, however, results in secret abuse, setting off a chain of actions from which neither Adrien's wise sister, Bernadette, nor his closest friend, Isaac, can turn him.

At What Cost, Silence presents two contrasting plantation families in a society where strict rules of belief and behavior are clear, and public opinion can shape an entire life. Centerstage are the Villeres,…

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