Our Favorite Fictional Witches

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Happy Halloween, all of you lit witches!

Once, when I was little I mentioned to someone that I thought Maleficient was beautiful. It didn’t go over well. I was reminded lots of times that witches are bad or evil, usually old and covered in warts, certainly never young or kind. This is, as most of you know, a completely ridiculous stereotype. Witches are everywhere and most live by a strong ethical code to harm none. You’ll find witches of all shapes and sizes with their noses in books, sipping tea and petting familiars. Nothing to be frightened of.

With all the lovely witches I know in real life, we all still have our fictional favorites. So I put together my list and I asked around a bit to find out the who’s who of fictional witches these days. Here’s some of our favorites, with some suggestions for where you might find other, fictional witches you’d like! Pull a cat into your lap, stir some honey into your tea and snuggle in for a Halloween read. 

#1 Diana Bishop, The All Souls Trilogy:

Diana was, by far, the favorite. As a woman, mother, wife and witch, almost all the witchy women I talked to said they found her relatable and engaging as a fictional witch. You might remember that I recommended the trilogy a while back, but click here if you need to read my opus to Diana and Matthew’s relationship!

What other witches are saying:

“Diana resonates so deeply with me, because she resisted her magic for so much of her life, ashamed and scared to be what she really was. And when those guards were let down, she was a true force to be reckoned with. I read the trilogy at a time when I was just starting to become aware of my own resistance to my magic, and so I felt like I went on the journey with her a little . . . minus the whole fate of the world resting on my willingness to come to terms with who I Am and come into my power. Although, MY world certainly depended on it.” -Sara

“I love how she is a rower like me and felt so real in her character, like she could totally exist in this world, right now. And how she not only had magical talents but was an athlete- that really resonated with me: then witches aren’t just all about metaphysical but also physical. I love how Deborah Harkness characterized her.” -Therese

#2 Hermione Granger and Miranda McGonagall, Harry Potter:

Running in a close second were the witches from the Harry Potter series. Nicola, in particular loves her, with Professor McGonagall as my favorite. The wonderful thing about the witches in the Harry Potter series is that though there are plenty of wizards to complement them, the witches keep up — hell, they dominate, magically speaking!

#3 Sally, Jilly, Jet and Frances Owens, Practical Magic:

Practical Magic (the film) is an obvious favorite among witchy women. A Stevie Nicks heavy soundtrack, that house (that KITCHEN!), and the hair on those women. It’s hard not to love them to pieces. But here’s a witchy secret: the book is much different and it’s just as good. It’s kind of like a two for one.

#4 The Ironteeth Witches, Throne of Glass:

You all know how much Nicola, Alyssa and I love Sarah J. Maas’ witches (and how we’re practically hopping in anticipation for the next book). Manon, Asterin, the whole 13th really. We just love them.

#5 Elphaba, Wicked:

We’re letting Gregory Maguire into our womanly space because we love Elphaba so much.

What other witches are saying:

“Elphaba was sorely misunderstood and so terribly mistreated. She was so passionate and outspoken and she didn’t hold back when it came to what she believed to be right and true. Her powers came from her heart. She’s one who reminds me to stay authentic (green skin and all).” – Lindsay

Read all these and need some new witches? Let’s see if we can pick something out that’ll strike your fancy.

Historical/Paranormal Fiction:

If you’re a fan of the Belle Epoque era, Paris and witches, the M.J. Rose’s The Witch of Painted Sorrows might just be the one for you. For my full recommendation, click here.

Scary and Literary Fiction:

If you’re in it for a mystery and you’re willing to get a serious dose of the mind-bending creeps, then Helen Oyeyemi’s White is for Witching is for you. We discussed it earlier this year and were scared witless.

Romance:

If you’d like a hefty dose of romance with your witchcraft, along with a Irish setting and a vengeful warlock, try out Nora Roberts’ The Cousins O’Dwyer trilogy.

Young Adult:

If you think you’d like to see what it’s like for witches in an alternate-timeline future, you might like Samantha Shannon’s The Bone Season. Here’s my recommendation for the series, thus far.

What other witches are recommending:

“I live near Salem, MA, so I’ve always been fascinated with New England witches and witch trials. If you like historical fantasy and want a unique take on witches, pick up Kendall Kulper’s Salt & Storm (2014), Drift & Dagger (2015), and Saltwater Heart (2015). They are companion novels about three generations of the Roe family: witches who reside on Prince Island, off the coast of Massachusetts, during the 19th century, and sell their spells and charms to protect seafarers (especially whalers). Salt & Storm focuses on sixteen-year-old Avery, who wants to be the next Roe witch (like her grandmother); but her mother forbids her from seeing her grandmother and using magic. (Read the Goodreads summary here.) Drift & Dagger, Salt & Storm’s prequel, is about Avery’s mother, Essie. (Read the Goodreads summary here.) Saltwater Heart brings to life a love story that is briefly mentioned in Salt & Storm. (Read the Goodreads summary here.)” – Alyssa

Middle Grade:

For middle grade readers and adults alike, I recommend Monica Furlong’s Juniper and Wise Child, which I recommended a few months ago.  

Allison Carr Waechter wants to thank her favorite lit witches Alyssa and Nicola for always inspiring her to find a bit more magic inside a book and her Tea Coven sisters for their love and support. 

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