87 books like Deadly Words

By Jeanne Favret-Saada,

Here are 87 books that Deadly Words fans have personally recommended if you like Deadly Words. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Last Witches of England: A Tragedy of Sorcery and Superstition

Marion Gibson Author Of Witchcraft: The Basics

From my list on witchcraft in history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been researching and writing histories of witchcraft for over twenty years because I wanted to know why people would confess to a crime that they couldn’t have committed. I especially wanted to know about women’s stories of witchcraft, and I found that fiction really helped me to imagine their worlds. I’m a Professor at Exeter University and I’m working on two new books about witchcraft trials: The Witches of St Osyth and Witchcraft: A History in Thirteen Trials. I’m trying to feel every word and give the “witches” the empathy they deserve.

Marion's book list on witchcraft in history

Marion Gibson Why did Marion love this book?

The immersive and tragic history of a witch trial in Bideford, Devon, England in 1682 puts the “witches” back at the centre of their story and tries to imagine their world with sympathy and insight. This is a very well-researched book, drawing on documents from the town and printed news pamphlets about the trial, as well as on the author’s wider knowledge of witchcraft and demonology (the study of devils and witches). It evokes the sinister atmosphere in the town very effectively. The story is well told, pacy, and easy to follow, and I learned a lot about the women and their world – telling details that I thought might have been lost to history, but are rediscovered and thrillingly told here.

By John Callow,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Witches of England as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Fascinating and vivid." New Statesman
"Thoroughly researched." The Spectator
"Intriguing." BBC History Magazine
"Vividly told." BBC History Revealed
"A timely warning against persecution." Morning Star
"Astute and thoughtful." History Today
"An important work." All About History
"Well-researched." The Tablet

On the morning of Thursday 29 June 1682, a magpie came rasping, rapping and tapping at the window of a prosperous Devon merchant. Frightened by its appearance, his servants and members of his family had, within a matter of hours, convinced themselves that the bird was an emissary of the devil sent by witches to destroy the fabric of their lives.…


Book cover of White Is for Witching

Lindsay King-Miller Author Of The Z Word

From my list on horror novels with messy queer protagonists.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a queer reader and writer of horror, I have little interest in anything that could be deemed “positive representation.” Horror is most compelling when it gets honest and ugly about the bad, selfish, cruel, or simply unwise choices people make when they’re truly scared–and that includes queer people. I love queer stories that aren’t primarily romantic or neatly resolved. I like messy groups of friends, toxic emotional entanglements, and family dynamics that don’t fit in a Hallmark card. These days there are lots of stories in other genres about queer people becoming their best selves, but horror also has space for us at our worst.

Lindsay's book list on horror novels with messy queer protagonists

Lindsay King-Miller Why did Lindsay love this book?

In choosing a theme for this list, I was very careful to think of one that would allow me to include this book, my favorite haunted house novel of all time. It’s gay; it’s weird; its central mystery is never fully resolved, which may be why it’s stuck with me for years and is one of the few novels I’ve reread more than twice as an adult.

Miranda Silver is neither a classic Gothic heroine nor an ass-kicking Sidney Prescott type, but someone stranger and more opaque. She’s confused and lonely and an unreliable narrator. Her romance with classmate Ore might offer some respite from the terrors of her family’s ancestral home, but it’s not enough to save her.

I love a queer story without a happily ever after. Knowing who you are and who you love doesn’t always make everything turn out okay. Sometimes, it just means you have…

By Helen Oyeyemi,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked White Is for Witching as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Haunting in every sense, White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi is a spine-tingling tribute to the power of magic, myth and memory.

High on the cliffs near Dover, the Silver family is reeling from the loss of Lily, mother of twins Eliot and Miranda, and beloved wife of Luc. Miranda misses her with particular intensity. Their mazy, capricious house belonged to her mother's ancestors, and to Miranda, newly attuned to spirits, newly hungry for chalk, it seems they have never left. Forcing apples to grow in winter, revealing and concealing secret floors, the house is fiercely possessive of young…


Book cover of Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch

Ana Veciana-Suarez Author Of Dulcinea

From my list on bringing to life the forgotten Baroque Age.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became fascinated with 16th-century and 17th-century Europe after reading Don Quixote many years ago. Since then, every novel or nonfiction book about that era has felt both ancient and contemporary. I’m always struck by how much our environment has changed—transportation, communication, housing, government—but also how little we as people have changed when it comes to ambition, love, grief, and greed. I doubled down my reading on that time period when I researched my novel, Dulcinea. Many people read in the eras of the Renaissance, World War II, or ancient Greece, so I’m hoping to introduce them to the Baroque Age. 

Ana's book list on bringing to life the forgotten Baroque Age

Ana Veciana-Suarez Why did Ana love this book?

I picked this book up, thinking it might have to do with witch trials in Europe during the 17th Century, and in a peripheral way, it does because it’s very loosely based on the life of Katharina Kepler, the mother of famous astronomer Johannes Kepler. (And really, how can you resist the title.) But the novel delivered so much more.

It’s a witty, searing meditation on community, gossip and envy, the strictures of society, the corruption of power, and a woman’s determination to be her own person. Add to that some of the funniest, most absurd situations I’ve read in a long while. Some sections of the novel are truly laugh-aloud.

By Rivka Galchen,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The startling, witty, highly anticipated second novel from the critically acclaimed author of Atmospheric Disturbances.

The story begins in 1618, in the German duchy of Württemberg. Plague is spreading. The Thirty Years' War has begun, and fear and suspicion are in the air throughout the Holy Roman Empire. In the small town of Leonberg, Katharina Kepler is accused of being a witch.

Katharina is an illiterate widow, known by her neighbors for her herbal remedies and the success of her children, including her eldest, Johannes, who is the Imperial Mathematician and renowned author of the laws of planetary motion. It's…


Book cover of The Witchfinder's Sister

Marion Gibson Author Of Witchcraft: The Basics

From my list on witchcraft in history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been researching and writing histories of witchcraft for over twenty years because I wanted to know why people would confess to a crime that they couldn’t have committed. I especially wanted to know about women’s stories of witchcraft, and I found that fiction really helped me to imagine their worlds. I’m a Professor at Exeter University and I’m working on two new books about witchcraft trials: The Witches of St Osyth and Witchcraft: A History in Thirteen Trials. I’m trying to feel every word and give the “witches” the empathy they deserve.

Marion's book list on witchcraft in history

Marion Gibson Why did Marion love this book?

A thoughtful and well-researched novel about the “Witchfinder General” Matthew Hopkins, who hunted witches in eastern England during the mid-seventeenth century Civil War. Or rather, it’s not about Matthew but about his fictional sister, Alice. Focusing on Alice is a clever and thought-provoking way of telling a famous story, making us look harder at the women involved in the witch hunt and how they might have felt about their experiences. How did women feel about witchfinders in their families and among their friends? Did they really suspect other women of witchcraft? Were they able to avoid becoming complicit in witch-hunting?

It’s a lively and horrifying story that has a really convincing seventeenth-century feel and it made me uncomfortable. What would I have done if a witch-hunt had come to my village? What would you do?

By Beth Underdown,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Witchfinder's Sister as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The number of women my brother Matthew killed, so far as I can reckon it, is one hundred and six . . .'

THE PAGE-TURNING RICHARD AND JUDY BOOK CLUB BESTSELLER

'A compelling debut from a gifted storyteller' Sarah Perry, author of The Essex Serpent
_________________________

When Alice Hopkins' husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.

But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which…


Book cover of The Anti-Witch

Monica Black Author Of A Demon-Haunted Land: Witches, Wonder Doctors, and the Ghosts of the Past in Post-WWII Germany

From my list on for historians who wish they were anthropologists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am fascinated by the things people do and the reasons they give for doing them. That people also do things in culturally specific ways and that their culturally specific ways of doing things are related to their culturally specific ideas about what makes sense and what does not inspires in me a sense of awe. As a professor and historian, thinking anthropologically has always been an important tool, because it helps me look for the hidden, cultural logics that guided the behavior of people in history. It helps me ask different questions. And it sharpens my sense of humility for the fundamental unknowability of this world we call home.

Monica's book list on for historians who wish they were anthropologists

Monica Black Why did Monica love this book?

The Anti-Witch is kind of a follow-up to Favret-Saada’s complex and brilliant Deadly Words, in which the author wrestled with the phenomenon of modern witchcraft beliefs in northern France’s Bocage region and tried to get inside the logic of those beliefs. I said modern witchcraft beliefs, because for me as a historian, what Favret-Saada contributed most to my understanding of this phenomenon lay in the way that she insisted on its historicity. That’s a historian’s way of saying that she did not treat witchcraft beliefs as “timeless relics” that some people weirdly “still” believe, but rather as an evolving set of practices and ways of thinking about how the world works, and the place of evil within it.

By Jeanne Favret-Saada, Matthew Carey (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Jeanne Favret-Saada is arguably one of France's most brilliant anthropologists, and The Anti-Witch is nothing less than a masterpiece. A synthesis of ethnographic theory and psychoanalytic revelation, where the line between researcher and subject is blurred - if not erased - The Anti-Witch develops the contours of an anthropology of therapy, while deeply engaging with what it means to be caught in the logic of witchcraft. Through an intimate and provocative sharing of the ethnographic voice with Madame Flora, a "dewitcher," Favret-Saada delivers a critical challenge to some of anthropology's fundamental concepts. Sure to be of interest to practitioners of…


Book cover of A Case of Witchcraft: The Trial of Urbain Grandier

Bonnie Stanard Author Of Béjart's Caravan

From my list on the destructive power of blind obedience to religion.

Why am I passionate about this?

"Write what you know" is worn-out advice you'll find on many a website, but I prefer to write what I want to know. Researching for background information is a far cry from studying the history of dates, places, and politics. For instance, you won't read in a history book that forks weren't used at the table in the Renaissance. That people didn't have zippers or right/left shoes, but they did have buttons. Noblemen wore high-heeled shoes. Women poisoned themselves with makeup of white lead (ceruse). Even with diaries, autobiographies, and social history books, trivial information of daily life is hard to find. 

Bonnie's book list on the destructive power of blind obedience to religion

Bonnie Stanard Why did Bonnie love this book?

This nonfiction about a French priest who was burned at the stake in 1634 reads like fiction. Although I knew the story and how it ends, Rapley’s writing is suspensful and dramatic. The author keeps close to Grandier, whose character flaws contribute to his death. Grandier’s enemies are given their separate situations and in some cases are treated with generosity. Though the writing is not emotional, I was dismayed and hardly able to believe this actually happened. 

By Robert Rapley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Case of Witchcraft as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As a Catholic priest, Grandier was an influential figure in the Loudun community and local government. A brilliant speaker, he was popular with his parishioners. But he had enemies, including Cardinal Richelieu and Louis XIII, who was trying to wrest political autonomy from local governors and centralize power in Paris. Grandier's support of the governor of Loudun meant that he was seen as an enemy of the crown. In addition, the debonair priest's romantic intrigues brought him into conflict with some of the town's most influential power brokers. When a nearby convent of Ursuline nuns began experiencing strange visions and…


Book cover of The Witches of Lorraine

Ulinka Rublack Author Of The Astronomer & the Witch: Johannes Kepler's Fight for His Mother

From my list on Witchcraze.

Why am I passionate about this?

I teach history at Cambridge University and focus on the period between 1500-1700. We call this period early modernity, and associate it partly with the advances of printing, literacy, learning, and scientific discoveries. But this was also the age of the witchcraze and a period in which everyone, whether learned or illiterate, believed in the power of the devil and the presence of witches in society. It is important to me to recover women´s experiences and the experiences of families.

Ulinka's book list on Witchcraze

Ulinka Rublack Why did Ulinka love this book?

Alongside Germany, Lorraine was another hotspot of accusations and Briggs has worked over decades in local archives to analyse the patterns of accusations and paint a vivid picture of village life. His book underlines how complex sets of factors worked together, often over many years, to result in accusations and, in some cases, in executions.

By Robin Briggs,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Witches of Lorraine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Based on perhaps the richest surviving archive of witchcraft trials to be found in Europe, The Witches of Lorraine reveals the extraordinary stories held within those documents. They paint a vivid picture of life amongst the ordinary people of a small duchy on the borders of France and the Holy Roman Empire, and allow a very close analysis of the beliefs, social tensions, and behaviour patterns underlying popular attitudes to witchcraft.

Intense persecution occurred in the period 1570-1630, but the focus of this book is more on how suspects interacted with their neighbours over the years preceding their trials. One…


Book cover of Witches: A Novel

Marsheila Rockwell Author Of Sisters of Sorcery

From my list on contemporary fantasy about witches.

Why am I passionate about this?

I learned to read when I was three and the first book I remember reading was Ozma of Oz, which featured some great witches (even though they weren’t called that). I’ve been fascinated by women using magic to change the world around them ever since, and books about witches have remained a staple of my reading diet. As an adult, I learned more about the theory and practice of witchcraft and even spent some time in a coven. These days, I guess you’d call me more of a hedgewitch; I maintain no formal practice, just try to live in “a good way” like my Ojibwe ancestors taught.

Marsheila's book list on contemporary fantasy about witches

Marsheila Rockwell Why did Marsheila love this book?

This book was translated from Spanish by Heather Cleary. It’s also not really fantasy. Sorry!

I don’t read enough translated books. The flow of language is different and storytelling isn’t always as straightforward as the Western narrative structure I’m more familiar with.

(I find this to be true with books written by fellow Indigenous authors in America and Canada, as well, but I haven’t read any of their work featuring contemporary witches. Yet.)

This book intertwines the stories of Curandera Feliciana and journalist Zoe, who are brought together by the murder of Feliciana’s cousin Paloma. It’s less about witches as spellcasters, and more about them as healers, knowledge-keepers, and disrupters of the status quo (i.e., the patriarchy).

Not a light read, but an important one.

By Brenda Lozano, Heather Cleary (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The beguiling story of a young journalist whose investigation of a murder leads her to the most legendary healer in all of Mexico, from one of the most prominent voices of a new generation of Latin American writers

Paloma is dead. But before she was murdered, before she was even Paloma, she was a traditional healer named Gaspar. Before she was murdered, she taught her cousin Feliciana the secrets of the ceremonies known as veladas, and about the Language and the Book that unlock their secrets.

Sent to report on Paloma’s murder, Zoe meets Feliciana in the mountain village of…


Book cover of Witchcraft, Magic, and Religion in Seventeenth-Century Massachusetts

Malcolm Gaskill Author Of The Ruin of All Witches: Life and Death in the New World

From my list on witch hunting in Colonial America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an Emeritus Professor of Early Modern History at the University of East Anglia and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. I taught history for many years at several UK universities, and I was the Director of Studies in History at Churchill College, Cambridge. I am the author of six books, including Hellish Nell: Last of Britain’s Witches and Witchcraft: A Very Short Introduction. His latest book, The Ruin of All Witches: Life and Death in the New World, will be published in November by Penguin. I live in Cambridge, England, and I am married with three children.

Malcolm's book list on witch hunting in Colonial America

Malcolm Gaskill Why did Malcolm love this book?

This is another sociologically inflected study, which broadens the context of belief behind witchcraft accusations. Like all the best work of the last forty years, it helps us to grasp the internal logic of witch-beliefs in the minds of intelligent and actually very sophisticated people, rather than falling back on the old chestnuts of hysteria, prejudice and the madness of crowds.

Weisman constantly reminds us that a supposed superstitious consensus (in contrast to the sceptical consensus of the modern world) simply didn’t exist. So much of the furious energy of thinking about witches was generated by disagreement and doubt. We’re also presented with conflicting and complementary opinions about witches, both from below in the neighbourhood, and from above among ministers and magistrates. In the end, as Weisman points out, however enduring beliefs about witchcraft may have been, as a crime it could not survive condemnation of the proofs, including so-called…

By Richard Weisman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Witchcraft, Magic, and Religion in Seventeenth-Century Massachusetts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Salem witchcraft persecutions are one of the most well-known events in history, but there is more to the story. In this book, Weisman explores the social, political, and religious implications of witchcraft. He ventures outside of the usual studies of the Salem trials to provide a comprehensive understanding of 17th-century Massachusetts witchcraft as a whole. In the first section, an attempt is made to explicate the logic and meaning of the two major interpretive frameworks of witchcraft in terms of which the category was understood by inhabitants of Massachusetts Bay. The second and third sections of this study deal…


Book cover of The Inner Temple of Witchcraft

Mat Auryn Author Of Psychic Witch: A Metaphysical Guide to Meditation, Magick & Manifestation

From my list on the psychic witch.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a witch, professional psychic, occult teacher, and multi-award-winning author of the international bestselling book Psychic Witch: A Metaphysical Guide To Meditation, Magick, and Manifestation. I have been fascinated with the topics of magick and psychic ability since a young age and have been researching both topics and how they intersect since about eight years old. I've had the honor of studying under some of the most prominent witchcraft teachers, elders, and witchcraft traditions. I’m constantly asked by readers which other books I recommend after reading mine, so here are the top picks I feel are essential for every psychic witch’s library that have been highly influential on my work.

Mat's book list on the psychic witch

Mat Auryn Why did Mat love this book?

The Inner Temple of Witchcraft is one of the most influential books I have ever read. The book lays a fantastic foundation for any witch, starting with going inward and developing meditation and psychic skills to enhance your magick. In the dedication in my book, I wrote that Psychic Witch was sort of my love letter to The Inner Temple of Witchcraft, and it truly is. The Anniversary Edition includes expanded material and a foreword by Laurie Cabot, whose work, particularly her book Power of the Witch, has also been immensely influential on both of us as authors. Christopher once told me that my book was to The Inner Temple of Witchcraft what The Inner Temple of Witchcraft was to Laurie's Power of the Witch, and you can see a line of influence on these topics from Laurie to Christopher to my book. This was one of…

By Christopher Penczak,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Inner Temple of Witchcraft as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Expand your Inner Temple - your personal sacred space where there are no boundaries and all things are possible. This four-CD set helps open the door by calming your mind and guiding the visualisations vital to magickal success. It is designed to complement the study course: The Inner Temple of Witchcraft. Each CD allows you to experience the book's lessons on a deep and personal level, with an experienced teacher guiding the way.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in witchcraft, Normandy, and France?

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