95 books like Witchfinders

By Malcolm Gaskill,

Here are 95 books that Witchfinders fans have personally recommended if you like Witchfinders. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Wyrd Sisters

Jo Spurrier Author Of A Curse of Ash and Embers

From my list on witchy women to read in a cottage in the woods.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve loved folklore and fantasy literature since I was tiny, but I’ve also had a lifelong fascination with science, history, and the natural world. As a disabled mother of two, I’ve not (yet) had the opportunity to see as much of our world as I’d like, but I love building fantasy worlds and weaving within them stories that blend a grounded earthiness with the supernatural and metaphysical. My writing always begins with a single mental image, the seed of an idea that I explore and build around until I have a full-fledged story ready to commit to paper. I love stories that break the mould, take you somewhere unexpected, and then make you never want to leave.

Jo's book list on witchy women to read in a cottage in the woods

Jo Spurrier Why did Jo love this book?

The OG witches of modern fantasy literature. I’ve put down Wyrd Sisters because it’s the first of Pratchett’s Witches books to feature the trio of Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat Garlick, but I’d list the whole series if I could. If you haven’t read them, I envy you, because you get to experience this trio and their world for the first time. Granny Weatherwax is a good witch because she has to be, but if she were to go the other way there’s no doubt she would be the greatest evil witch the Discworld has ever known. She plays cards with Death, knows the power of stories, and, most importantly, understands that being Good and Right is not the same as being Nice. Pratchett’s Witches were formative reading for me, and paved the way for many beloved reads on our shelves today.

By Terry Pratchett,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Wyrd Sisters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Destiny is important, see, but people go wrong when they think it controls them. It's the other way around.'

Three witches gathered on a lonely heath. A king cruelly murdered, his throne usurped by his ambitious cousin. A child heir and the royal crown, both missing.

Witches don't have these kinds of leadership problems themselves - in fact, they don't have leaders.

Granny Weatherwax is the most highly regarded of the leaders they don't have. But even she finds that meddling in royal politics is a lot more complicated than certain playwrights would have you believe. Particularly when the blood…


Book cover of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Jessica Disciacca Author Of Awakening the Dark Throne

From my list on books that will get you completely obsessed with the world of dark fantasy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been writing for years and reading forever. Fantasy books have always been my number one go to as far as genres. I loved how they would teleport me to a new world, allowing me to leave behind reality. The characters became my friends. The worlds became my homes. I couldn’t get enough and still can’t. As I got older, my imagination never stopped. I was constantly creating dreamworld and character plots in my head. Eventually, I started writing, needing the characters to stop talking. The only way to do that was to get them on paper. Since then, I haven’t been able to stop.

Jessica's book list on books that will get you completely obsessed with the world of dark fantasy

Jessica Disciacca Why did Jessica love this book?

A classic. No matter what age I am, Rowling continues to transport me into a world full of magic, mystery, and suspense.

This book takes the cake for me because of the world she has created. The characters, the towns, the spells, and the SCHOOL. YES! Take me to Hogwarts. I have never wanted to be transported into a world as badly as this one. The details of each character and each scene give you a vivid image of the world she has created.

I love how the books grew with the reader's age as well. Such a clever thing to do to keep your audience captivated. 

By J.K. Rowling,

Why should I read it?

38 authors picked Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Galloping gargoyles ... 2022 is the silver anniversary of J.K. Rowling's magical classic Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone!

The boy wizard Harry Potter has been casting a spell over young readers and their families ever since 1997. Now the first book in this unmissable series celebrates 25 years in print! The paperback edition of the tale that introduced us to Harry, Ron and Hermione has been updated and dressed in silver to mark the occasion. It's time to take the magical journey of a lifetime ...

Harry Potter has never even heard of Hogwarts when the letters start dropping…


Book cover of The Weirdstone of Brisingamen

Geoff Turner Author Of Archie's Mirror

From my list on magic, heroes, and rock ‘n’ roll.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a writer of children’s books, I’ve always been fascinated – not merely by the narrative, characters, and plot that form a story – but how ideas themselves spring to life and cross-pollinate to form some kind of creative endeavor, whether that’s a song, a poem, a book or anything else that provokes an emotional response. Rather than shying away from the question: "Where do you get your ideas?" I like to embrace it and search for answers myself. These books all set contexts through which the nature of imagination and ideas are explored alongside the tales they tell, and they remain an influence on the ideas I have, and the words I write.

Geoff's book list on magic, heroes, and rock ‘n’ roll

Geoff Turner Why did Geoff love this book?

A formative book from my childhood, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen kick-started my love of all things magic, heroic, and fantastical. Not only that, but the setting was close to where I grew up – these were locations I knew but viewed through a mythic lens. Loosely based on the legend of the Wizard of Alderley Edge, Alan Garner creates a fantasy world that feels so real as two children are pulled into an adventure where the very future of the world of men is on the line. It remains so influential on my own writing that I still return to the old dwarf caves of Fundinvale as an adult and enjoy the tale every bit as much as I did when I was a ten-year-old reading by torchlight under the duvet.

By Alan Garner,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Weirdstone of Brisingamen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

The Weirdstone of Brisingamen is one of the greatest fantasy novels of all time.

"Alan Garner's fiction is something special." - Neil Gaiman

When Colin and Susan are pursued by eerie creatures across Alderley Edge, they are saved by the Wizard. He takes them into the caves of Fundindelve, where he watches over the enchanted sleep of one hundred and forty knights.

But the heart of the magic that binds them - Firefrost, also known as the Weirdstone of Brisingamen - has been lost. The Wizard has been searching for the stone for more than 100 years, but the forces…


Book cover of Damiano

J.S. Watts Author Of Witchlight

From my list on if you are seeking witchery.

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

J.S.'s book list on if you are seeking witchery

J.S. Watts Why did J.S. love 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.

By R.A. MacAvoy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This alternate history fantasy by a Nebula Award nominee follows a young alchemist's quest in Renaissance Italy under the wing of an archangel.

Set against the turbulent backdrop of the Italian Renaissance, this alternate history takes place in a world where real faith-based magic exists. Our hero is Damiano Dalstrego. He is a wizard's son, an alchemist, and the heir to dark magics. But he is also an innocent, a young scholar and musician befriended by the Archangel Raphael, who instructs him in the lute. To save his beloved city from war, Damiano leaves his cloistered life and sets out…


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 Witchfinder General

Michael Stewart Author Of Ill Will

From my list on dark historical fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by dark fiction since I discovered Edgar Allan Poe at the age of ten. I don’t know why I like to immerse myself in such troubling worlds, perhaps, by experiencing the worst of human nature vicariously, these texts give us the opportunity to really get to grips with who we are as people and what we are capable of. I’ve written eight works of fiction. Wuthering Heights has captivated me, and I've always been fascinated by the two mysterious holes in the narrative: where is Heathcliff from? And where does he go when he is missing for three years? I wrote a book, Ill Will, that attempts to answer these questions.

Michael's book list on dark historical fiction

Michael Stewart Why did Michael love this book?

Matthew Hopkins, the self-appointed Witchfinder General, was one of the most venal and vicious Englishmen to ever live. This is a brutal novel, a veritable catalogue of horror, but a necessary lesson in man’s inhumanity and corruption. There is an authenticity here that will but ice in your marrow. 

By Ronald Bassett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

1643. England is at war with itself.

While bitter battles rage between King and Parliament, local magistrates have more power, and less accountability, than ever before.

Taking advantage of the tense atmosphere and lax prosecution procedures, Matthew Hopkins, an insignificant lawyer and self-appointed Witchfinder General, travels across East Anglia accusing the aged, the confused and the poor of satanic crimes against their neighbours.

With every innocent death, his purse grows heavier, as he satisfies his lust for power.

But his dealings with one particular young woman make him a powerful enemy in the form of Ralph Margery – a captain…


Book cover of Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England

Bryan Le Beau Author Of The Story of the Salem Witch Trials

From my list on the story behind the Salem Witch Trials.

Why am I passionate about this?

A native of Massachusetts and married to a descendent of two of the accused, the Salem witch trials have long fascinated me. Armed with a Ph.D. in American studies from New York University – focused on American history, literature, and religion – a significant portion of my academic career has been devoted to research, publications, classes, and public lectures on the Salem witch trials, reflected in the third edition of my book, The Story of the Salem Witch Trials. The book is only one of several books and many articles I have published on various aspects of American cultural history, many of which relate in some way to what happened in Salem in 1692.  

Bryan's book list on the story behind the Salem Witch Trials

Bryan Le Beau Why did Bryan love this book?

John Putnam Demos remains the “dean” of historians of the Salem witch trials. 

Entertaining Satan remains his most impactful contribution to the study of the events of 1692 by providing their cultural context in early New England, upon which historians have built over the years expanding upon Demos’ findings.

Perhaps his greatest contribution is his interdisciplinary approach invoking the research tools of psychology and sociology, as well as cultural history. His concluding chapter, “Communities: Witchcraft over Time,” provides broadly, excellent insights drawn from his extensive research.  

By John Putnam Demos,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Entertaining Satan as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the first edition of the Bancroft Prize-winning Entertaining Satan, John Putnam Demos presented an entirely new perspective on American witchcraft. By investigating the surviving historical documents of over a hundred actual witchcraft cases, he vividly recreated the world of New England during the witchcraft trials and brought to light fascinating information on the role of witchcraft in early American culture. Now Demos has revisited his original work
and updated it to illustrate why these early Americans' strange views on witchcraft still matter to us today. He provides a new preface that puts forth a broader overview of witchcraft and…


Book cover of Witches & Neighbors: The Social And Cultural Context of European Witchcraft

Lu Ann Homza Author Of Village Infernos and Witches' Advocates: Witch-Hunting in Navarre, 1608-1614

From my list on the trauma of European witch-hunting.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of early modern Europe, with a research focus on Spain and Italy. I first encountered archival documents from the Spanish Inquisition during research for my first book: I was already a fan of religious history but quickly became a fan of studying the law. I am fascinated by the ways in which people between the 1500s and 1700s used the legal systems at their disposal to recapture honor and pursue enemies. I am always on the lookout for ways in which religious prescriptions from centralized authorities did not match what was happening on the ground with ordinary, usually illiterate people.

Lu's book list on the trauma of European witch-hunting

Lu Ann Homza Why did Lu love this book?

This book should never go out of print, and for good reason: it is so smart and so very readable.

Briggs persuasively assesses the village contexts that played into witchcraft accusations and confessions in early modern Europe.

He clearly explains the crucial contexts of debt, feuds, and local relationships behind witchcraft allegations, and provides important insights into questions of gender and age. His evidence is compelling.

By Robin Briggs,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In his remarkable and compelling interpretation of the course and causes of the fear and persecution of witches that bedeviled Europe for centuries, Briggs draws on the latest research into the local realities underlying the phenomenon. In particular, he employs his own extensive work in the rich archives hidden away in those Franco-German borderlands in which so many cases became known. Briggs reveals how ordinary people diverted ordinary and not-so-ordinary grievances into a complex structure of blaming and scapegoating. Villagers inhabited a harsh and dangerous world, where real and fantastic fears mingled.
Through his study of real cases and real…


Book cover of The Ruin of All Witches: Life and Death in the New World

Laurie Lico Albanese Author Of Hester

From my list on female magic, witches, potions and spells.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love historical fiction because it brings history and people from the past to life, showing us their struggles and their secrets—especially the women! Since my first historical novel, The Miracles of Prato, I've been paying attention to the women whose stories haven't been told. When I realized Hester Prynne is our first American historical feminist heroine—indeed, our American Eve and our original badass single mom—I knew I had to let her tell her story.  

Laurie's book list on female magic, witches, potions and spells

Laurie Lico Albanese Why did Laurie love this book?

This new and acclaimed book about the first witch trial in America in 1651 Springfield, Massachusetts, reads like a novel in which two outsiders, Hugh Parsons and his vision-seeing wife Mary (who probably suffered from paranoid schizophrenia or post-partum psychosis) become the target of an entire town. Puritan laws and Old World medieval folk tales contribute to the sense of darkness and foreboding that prevail over the town and its inhabitants, reminding us that New England was a dark land, isolated and full of enemies, hungry and poor and primed to be swept up by diabolical accusations and actions. Read this for a deep understanding of the causes and consequences of the American witch trials. 

By Malcolm Gaskill,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

*A TIMES, SUNDAY TIMES AND BBC HISTORY HISTORY BOOK OF THE YEAR 2021*

'The best and most enjoyable kind of history writing' Hilary Mantel

'A bona fide historical classic' Sunday Times

Simply one of the best history books I have ever read' BBC History

In the frontier town of Springfield in 1651, peculiar things begin to happen. Precious food spoils, livestock ails and property vanishes. People suffer fits and are plagued by strange visions and dreams. Children sicken and die. As tensions rise, rumours spread of witches and heretics, and the community becomes tangled in a web of spite, distrust…


Book cover of Witchcraft: A Very Short Introduction

Joel F. Harrington Author Of The Faithful Executioner: Life and Death, Honor and Shame in the Turbulent Sixteenth Century

From my list on the European witch craze.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the Centennial Professor of history at Vanderbilt University. I have been reading and teaching about witchcraft and the occult for over thirty years. This is a topic that never fails to engage people of all backgrounds and has generated a plethora of books, some good, many not. I look for authors who understand the passions, psychology, and experiences of both accusers and supposed witches, while also exploring what it is about certain societies that leads to such claims being taken seriously, often with fatal results. The books I picked vividly convey the reality of the witch craze, while also asking some probing questions about persecutions in general.  

Joel's book list on the European witch craze

Joel F. Harrington Why did Joel love this book?

I have read dozens of books on this subject and this is by far the best succinct overview I have come across. The author has written extensively on English witchcraft and knows the broader field inside out. It is truly amazing how much he is able to cover (clearly and vividly) in such a short space, from historic origins up to the present day. There is also a very helpful bibliography so readers can pursue certain topics in more depth.

By Malcolm Gaskill,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Witchcraft as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Witchcraft is a subject that fascinates us all, and everyone knows what a witch is - or do they? From childhood most of us develop a sense of the mysterious, malign person, usually an old woman. Historically, too, we recognize witch-hunting as a feature of pre-modern societies. But why do witches still feature so heavily in our cultures and consciousness? From Halloween to superstitions, and literary references such as Faust and even Harry Potter, witches still
feature heavily in our society. In this Very Short Introduction Malcolm Gaskill challenges all of this, and argues that what we think we know…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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