The best black magic books

Who picked these books? Meet our 24 experts.

24 authors created a book list connected to black magic, and here are their favorite black magic books.
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What type of black magic book?



By Helmut Schoeck,

Book cover of Envy: A Theory of Social Behaviour

Loretta Graziano Breuning Author Of Status Games: Why We Play and How to Stop

From the list on status anxiety.

Who am I?

I grew up around a lot of suffering over status. I didn’t want to suffer, so I kept trying to understand why everyone plays a game that they insist they don’t want to play. I found my answer when I studied evolutionary psychology. This answer really hit home when I watched David Attenborough’s wildlife documentaries. I saw the social rivalry among our mammalian ancestors, and it motivated me to research the biology behind it. I took early retirement from a career as a Professor of Management and started writing books about the brain chemistry we share with earlier mammals. I’m so glad I found my power over my inner mammal!

Loretta's book list on status anxiety

Discover why each book is one of Loretta's favorite books.

Why did Loretta love this book?

A thick science book on envy is just what we need to help us release this feeling. The author looks at “Man the Envier” in an anthropological way. He shows how diverse cultures have struggled to manage this natural impulse, even using “black magic.” That may sound crazy, but my Italian ancestors did this. They believed that suffering is caused by malocchiothe evil eye from a person who envies you.

I like this book because it shows how humans create envy inside themselves. You may not want to see inside yourself. It’s easier to dream that the perfect society that will relieve your envy. But you make yourself powerless when you do that because you can’t control society. You are better off building your power over your emotions, as my books explain.

By Helmut Schoeck,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This classic study is one of the few books to explore extensively the many facets of envy—“a drive which lies at the core of man’s life as a social being.” Ranging widely over literature, philosophy, psychology, and the social sciences, Professor Schoeck— a distinguished sociologist and anthropologist—elucidates both the constructive and destructive consequences of envy in social life. Perhaps most important, he demonstrates that not only the impetus toward a totalitarian regime but also the egalitarian impulse in democratic societies are alike in being rooted in envy.

The Rostikov Legacy

By Charlotte E. English,

Book cover of The Rostikov Legacy

Rebecca Buchanan Author Of Asphalt Gods, and Other Pagan Urban Fantasy Tales

From the list on fantasy and science fiction for Pagans.

Who am I?

I grew up with a serious passion for mythology and fairy tales. By the time I reached college, I knew that would be my path in life: honoring the Old Deities, honoring the earth, and writing new myths and fairy tales. To that end, I have published numerous short stories, novellas, and poems (the majority with a Pagan focus), serve on the board of directors of a Pagan publisher and a Pagan non-profit organization, and edit a Pagan literary ezine.

Rebecca's book list on fantasy and science fiction for Pagans

Discover why each book is one of Rebecca's favorite books.

Why did Rebecca love this book?

Charlotte English’s Malykant Mystery series is a rarity. Not only are the mysteries engaging, but the setting is unusual (a wintery Russian-type city) and the main character is the priest-assassin of the God of Death! Konrad Savast swore himself to the God’s service after his sister’s violent death, vowing to track down and kill those who had violated natural law through the act of murder. Savast’s devotion to his God and his duty will appeal to Pagans of every tradition. While tragic, the stories are never gruesome. Short enough to read in a single sitting, and lots of fun.

By Charlotte E. English,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Detective. Judge. Executioner.

In an icy, Victorianesque world, a harsh god rules, and He has one law: a life for a life.

Konrad Savast is the Malykant: detective, judge and executioner in one. It's kill and be killed in Konrad's world, and his unhappy duty to mete out his Master's implacable justice.

The body of an aristocrat lies in the mist-shrouded reaches of the Bone Forest. Her killer has signed their own death warrant; but first, Konrad must learn who could have wanted the delightful Lady Rostikova dead...

With a pair of bloodthirsty ghosts to assist him, Konrad will hunt…

Little Labors

By Rivka Galchen,

Book cover of Little Labors

Weike Wang Author Of Joan Is Okay

From the list on workaholics who still have time to read.

Who am I?

I am fascinated by work, especially women at work. I am an immigrant, a child of immigrants, a former scientist, and for most of life, have been conditioned to work because if I could not work, then why else was I here? Yet work is not strictly an emblem of immigrant grit or the model minority mindset. It can be made funny, surreal, existential, and it’s a rich subject to tackle. More often than not, work is treated as taboo. It’s ignored or deemed too prosaic to discuss.  Who wants to see what goes on inside the factory? I do. I’m obsessed with stories that showcase the factory. 

Weike's book list on workaholics who still have time to read

Discover why each book is one of Weike's favorite books.

Why did Weike love this book?

A friend once described her early years of motherhood as non-stop work but also total idleness. Galchen’s slim book of collected observations and witticisms about babies and motherhood, some only one dazzling paragraph long, made me pause to savor each word. I liken reading this book to reading fun poetry or admiring a pop-up gallery. You can read a bit of this book every day, without losing the thread. Each chapter (they are very mini chapters) made me see the world in a new light. Many made me laugh out loud with joy. 

By Rivka Galchen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this enchanting miscellany, Galchen notes that literature has more dogs than babies (and also more abortions), that the tally of children for many great women writers-Jane Bowles, Elizabeth Bishop, Virginia Woolf, Janet Frame, Willa Cather, Patricia Highsmith, Iris Murdoch, Djuna Barnes, Mavis Gallant-is zero, that orange is the new baby pink, that The Tale of Genji has no plot but plenty of drama about paternity, that babies exude an intoxicating black magic, and that a baby is a goldmine.

Storm Front

By Jim Butcher,

Book cover of Storm Front

Davis Bunn Author Of Island of Time

From the list on urban fantasy that bend time and reality.

Who am I?

My first mentor was Arthur C Clarke, the science fiction megastar. I’ve always been drawn to epic fantasy, science fiction, and techno-thrillers. Stories that push the boundaries of reality. While I’ve been a professional author for over thirty years in multiple genres, I keep returning to speculative fiction, much of which is published under my pen name “Thomas Locke”. I serve as Writer In Residence at the University of Oxford. In writing Island of Time, my aim was to apply a classical heroic structure to neartime fantasy. Use the naturally occurring elements of light and dark, good and evil, and magnify them by adding magic to this world.

Davis' book list on urban fantasy that bend time and reality

Discover why each book is one of Davis' favorite books.

Why did Davis love this book?

A captivating blend of detective noir and urban fantasy, this one kept me on the edge of my seat.

Set in the bustling city of Chicago, the story follows wizard detective Harry Dresden as he navigates through a world filled with magic and mystery. I found everything I look for in crime fiction, mixed up with fun and creepy, larger-than-life supernatural elements. For example Bob, a spirit of intellect bound to a skull serves as Dresden’s advisor – great comic relief.

I appreciated Dresden’s struggles with his own magical abilities and his determination to do the right thing, even when it may mean sacrifice. 

By Jim Butcher,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked Storm Front as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the first novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling Dresden Files series, Harry Dresden’s investigation of a grisly double murder pulls him into the darkest depths of magical Chicago…

As a professional wizard, Harry Dresden knows firsthand that the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things—and most of them don’t play well with humans. And those that do enjoy playing with humans far too much. He also knows he’s the best at what he does. Technically, he’s the only at what he does. But even though Harry is the only game in town, business—to put…


By Richard Laymon,

Book cover of Beware

David Schembri Author Of Beneath the Ferny Tree

From the list on horror fiction providing the most fun being scared.

Who am I?

I wasn’t a fan of reading when I was young. I was a lazy reader. Subjects and genres were always chosen for me during education, until I hunted for my own. I used to write a lot more than reading in early high school. I wrote a horror journal, submitted to my English teacher every week. He told me that my writing was good but advised me that reading the genre could help develop my ideas. Funny, a young teenager couldn’t work that out? So, off I went to the local bookstore and bought my first horror novel. I devoured it within a week. I've been a reader and writer of horror ever since.

David's book list on horror fiction providing the most fun being scared

Discover why each book is one of David's favorite books.

Why did David love this book?

My first horror read. It is dear to me. I picked it up off the shelf. It was neat and small in my hands, so not too overwhelming for someone who didn’t enjoy reading. However, I wanted to give the genre a try as I had been a hobby horror writer for a year or so beforehand. I liked the cover and blurb on the back, which was more of an excerpt, got me walking quickly to the counter to buy it so I could rush home to find out what was going to happen. This book opened the floodgates to the beauty of horror fiction. The excitement of the characters which had inspired my earlier experiments and still provides insights to this day. This is a wild ride, so grab on tight and let it take you as it had taken me.

By Richard Laymon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Using ancient black magic, a dangerous, vindictive maniac is made all-powerful by his ability to become invisible. Raping and murdering his way around the States, he is biding his time before fulfilling his one desire—to get even with the high school belle who rejected him years before.

Stealing with the Eyes

By Will Buckingham,

Book cover of Stealing with the Eyes

Tim Hannigan Author Of The Travel Writing Tribe: Journeys in Search of a Genre

From the list on writing about the real world.

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by nonfiction since my teens, by the idea of books about things that really happened. Fiction gets all the kudos, all the big prizes, all the respect. But as far as I’m concerned, trying to wrestle the unruly matter of reality onto the page is much more challenging – imaginatively, technically, ethically – than simply making things up! My book The Travel Writing Tribe is all about those challenges – and about the people, the well-known travel writers, who have to confront them every time they put pen to paper.

Tim's book list on writing about the real world

Discover why each book is one of Tim's favorite books.

Why did Tim love this book?

Since the 1980s, anthropologists have been confronting the fraught ethics of representing other people, other places, other cultures much more directly than their counterparts in journalism or travel writing. Will Buckingham didn’t stick with anthropology, and this book about his fieldwork with woodcarvers in eastern Indonesia – written two decades after the events it describes – goes some way to explaining why. It’s wry, funny and thought-provoking. The title refers to the theft committed by every travelling writer.

By Will Buckingham,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stealing with the Eyes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Will Buckingham travelled to Tanimbar Islands (Indonesia) as a trainee anthropologist to meet three remarkable sculptors: the crippled Matias Fatruan, the buffalo hunter Abraham Amelwatin, and Damianus Masele, who was skilled in black magic, but who abstained out of Christian principle. Part memoir, part travel-writing, Stealing with the Eyes is the story of these men, and also of how stumbling into a world of witchcraft, sickness and fever lead him to question the validity of his anthropological studies, and eventually to abandon them for good. Through his encounters with these remarkable craftsmen and weaving together Tanimbarese history, myth and philosophy…

Black Magic

By Marjorie Bowen,

Book cover of Black Magic

Tupenny Longfeather Author Of Bowels of Darkness

From the list on ominously atmospheric stories for a winter's night.

Who am I?

I love forests. There's a particular atmosphere, a sense of being close to nature. Yet there's a mystery, you can never see too far ahead. What's around the corner? A truly atmospheric book has the quality of a forest, leading us on but never revealing too much at once. Perhaps beyond the next tree, or page, is something that may not be of our universe.

Tupenny's book list on ominously atmospheric stories for a winter's night

Discover why each book is one of Tupenny's favorite books.

Why did Tupenny love this book?

The thirst for knowledge of the black arts sets the tone for this book. The smallest events are loaded with ominous foreboding, from the understated beginning to the immensely world-shattering ending. Dirk Renswoude is a dark figure, yet never seemingly repulsive enough to prevent the reader from allying with him, being complicit in his deeds.

By Marjorie Bowen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Dirk Renswoude is a craftsman and loner of noble birth who has been mistreated by his family. He meets Thierry, a young scholar on his way to study at the university at Basle and they soon discover that they share a fascination with the black arts. Thierry is initially cautious and afraid of blasphemy, whilst Dirk is ambitious and thirsts for power. Dirk leads them on to experiments with mystic circles drawn on the floor in chalk, the chanting of arcane incantations and the evocation of grotesque, demonic visions writhing in the speculum.

Mr. Clarinet

By Nick Stone,

Book cover of Mr. Clarinet

Sharon J. Bolton Author Of The Split: A Novel

From the list on spine-tingling thrillers set on remote islands.

Who am I?

I love dark, creepy stories set on remote islands; I love writing them and I love reading them. There is something about an island that lends itself so well to the thriller. A closed community with its own set of rules, a far-flung location, probably at the vagaries of oceanic weather, poor communications, local people whose loyalties can’t always be trusted, few places to hide. When the sun goes down on an island there is often, quite literally, no way of escape. I’ve set some of my best books on islands (Sacrifice, Little Black Lies, The Split) and love all of the ones on this list. I hope you do too. 

Sharon's book list on spine-tingling thrillers set on remote islands

Discover why each book is one of Sharon's favorite books.

Why did Sharon love this book?

Pied Pier, soul stealer, serial killer. Who is Mr. Clarinet? On the island of Haiti – not yet recovered from the sickeningly corrupt rule of Papa Doc Duvalier – children are vanishing amidst rumours of black magic and voodoo. Private investigator, Max Mingus, is hired to track down the son of a wealthy islander. Nick Stone lived for many years in Haiti, and his in-depth knowledge of the place seeps through the book like the blood of its numerous victims. The Haiti of this novel is dark, lawless, dangerous, and utterly fascinating. 

By Nick Stone,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?



It was a job Miami private investigator Max Mingus found hard to refuse: $10 million to locate billionaire's son Charlie Carver - missing now for over three years.

Young Charlie disappeared on the island of Haiti, where over the decades scores of children have vanished. In a country dominated by voodoo, rumours abound of black magic and a mythical figure called 'Mr Clarinet', who for years has been tempting children away from their families.

But could the truth be even more shocking than the legend?

To find out, Max will…

Saint's Blood

By Sebastien de Castell,

Book cover of Saint's Blood

Nathan Makaryk Author Of Nottingham

From the list on scifi fantasy with action sequences.

Who am I?

As a stage combat choreographer myself, fight sequences are always important to me: they have to be believable but exciting, they have to keep up the pace so the reader is experiencing the action at the same speed as the characters—but most importantly, they have to tell a story. Action just for the sake of action always feels empty, but great fight scenes that are both exhilarating and bound to the forward momentum of the plot and emotion will stay with me for a long time. Here’s some that I still remember long after I finished the book.

Nathan's book list on scifi fantasy with action sequences

Discover why each book is one of Nathan's favorite books.

Why did Nathan love this book?

I picked the third book in the Greatcoats series as it contains the fight sequence I remember the most, but every entry in this series has some incredible swordplay and memorable action. The Greatcoats take all the swashbuckling bravado of the Three Musketeers but thrown into a far more dangerous world with black magic and angry deities. There’s a cavalier joy to every sword fight, which often details the specific strategies to the point where you feel like you’re learning how to fight for yourself. There’s tons of honor and bravery in the face of a brutal, bleak world, and worth every page.

By Sebastien de Castell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'High energy, highly unique, swashbuckling-cop-epic-noir story. Buy it. BUY IT NOW' Sam Sykes

The Greatcoats are back - and this time it's personal.

How do you kill a Saint? Falcio, Brasti and Kest are about to find out, as someone is doing just that, and they've started with a friend.

The Dukes were already looking for ways to weasel out of their promise to put Aline on her father's throne - but with Saints turning up dead, and Church Inquistitors pushing for control - rumours are spreading that the Gods themselves oppose her ascension.

The only way Falcio can stop…

To the Devil, a Daughter

By Dennis Wheatley,

Book cover of To the Devil, a Daughter

Lewis Hinton Author Of Angel's Blade: A Jack Sangster Mystery

From the list on beautifully drawn settings that evoke mystery.

Who am I?

I am fascinated by the myth, legend, and the supernatural, and love to link them with a particular setting. The books listed all inspired my writing from their pace, elegant prose, great characterisation, and especially, descriptive settings and atmosphere evoked from those settings (something I strive to do as an author, using places I know really well). And I am lucky enough to have lived in Cornwall by the River Fal, a place so steeped in legend and natural beauty that Angel’s Blade almost wrote itself. 

Lewis' book list on beautifully drawn settings that evoke mystery

Discover why each book is one of Lewis' favorite books.

Why did Lewis love this book?

The undisputed master of the Occult thriller, Wheatley sold over 50 million books, regularly topping best seller lists in the mid-20th Century. In To The Devil a Daughter, Wheatley contrasts the colour of the post-war French Riviera with the greyness of ration-book 1940’s Britain with a rare vividness, and atypically for the time, creates a ‘kick-ass’ middle-aged female protagonist. His descriptions of the Essex marshes, and the sinister Canon Copely-Syle who lives there, are superb. In another book, The Haunting of Toby Jugg, Wheatley describes a school (loosely based on the infamous Dartington Hall school), that partly inspired ‘The Academy’ in my own book. When reading Wheatley’s books, bear in mind he was a man of his time, as many of his views do not date well. I was massively flattered recently when a reader of my book said my style (not my views!) reminded him…

By Dennis Wheatley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked To the Devil, a Daughter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why did the solitary girl leave her rented house on the French Riviera only for short walks at night? Why was she so frightened? Why did animals shrink away from her? The girl herself didn't know, and was certainly not aware of the terrible appointment which had been made for her long ago and was now drawing close. Molly Fountain, the tough-minded Englishwoman living next door, was determined to find the answer. She sent for a wartime secret service colleague to come and help. What they discovered was horrifying beyond anything they could have imagined. Dennis Wheatley returned in this…