It’s another Wednesday in October. Last Wednesday we talked about monsters. Since I love top 5 lists, and Top 5 Wednesday is awesome, I decided to it again. This week’s topic is about favorite books featuring a paranormal creature of your choice. So, let’s talk witches!
You thought I was going to pick Fae, huh? I considered it. But it’s nearly Halloween, and I have witches on my mind (possibly for costume-related reason but maybe also for book-related reasons…). So, I’ll save Fae for later. Today let’s talk about humans who use magic.
First, I feel like I need to draw a fine line between witches and magicians. Both are magic wielding humans. But to me, magician magic feels more like a showy thing, something that maybe someone has an aptitude for, but has to learn and study to figure out how to do it. I love magician magic, especially schools for magicians, warring magicians, and evil magicians. All excellent fantasy tropes that will most often result in me clicking “add to shelf” on Goodreads. But I associate magicians with classic fantasy. They’re not “paranormal” to me.
Witch magic, on the other hand, seems more primal. Like you’re born with the ability and you just figure it out. Or you have a family tradition that’s passed down with a spell book or something. Witch magic feels more like a practical thing for some reason. It also always seems to involve a lot of blood.
I’d also like to point out, most of the so-called magicians we see in fantasy are men. Which is a bummer. If a woman wields magic in a fantasy world, she’s usually a witch. I refuse to buy into this gendered nonsense. This is why I’m drawing my fine line between magic as a discipline and magic as a primal skill (I feel like The Magicians series, books and show, come the closest I’ve seen to a similar distinction).
In general, I want more female magicians in fantasy, especially of the evil magician and warring magician varieties. So if you have good recommendations (aside from Uprooted and The Night Circus, both of which I’ve read and enjoyed), let me know in the comments. And, similarly, I’d also like more male witches. Maybe as love interests for paranormal heroines (that may or may not be a hint for a future Modern Fae book…).
I think as a kid I read more “witch magic” books, especially ones where you find out you’re a witch on your sixteenth birthday (loved those). But, as an adult, I seem to find myself more often reading “magician magic” books for some reason. I like both types of magic. Honestly, I like all magic. But, I’m going to drop some of my favorite witchy books below, and then you can tell me in the comments if you have any recommendations for me based on my witch/magician rant and my faves. Deal? Cool.
When I think of witches, here are the top 5 books I think of:
- The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton — This is the witchiest book I’ve read since…I don’t know when. It’s great. Only a handful of characters in this book are dabbling in witchcraft, but the entire book feels witchy. That’s why I’m giving it the number one slot on my list. If you like witches, you should definitely check this one out.
- Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia — Mixtape witches! This book is told in alternating sections between past and present. The witchy bits are mostly in the flashback sections, but if you ever imagined that you and a group of your friends stumbled on a way to do magic, and if you also happen to really like High Fidelity (source of my love of top five lists) you should check out this book.
- Harry Potter (series) by J. K. Rowling — The fundamental witches and wizards series for the modern age. Books one through seven, that is. I’m less invested in all the various spin-offs and side-stories.
- Carry On by Rainbow Rowell — The thing I like best about this book is how the magic works. I love that their spells are song lyrics. I also love that this is basically a Harry Potter / chosen one spoof and that it grew out of a side story in possibly my favorite Rainbow Rowell book (Fangirl).
- Dune (series) by Frank Herbert — You may be asking yourself why I’ve included a sci-fi book on a list about witches. Fair question. But, if you’re asking that, then you probably haven’t read this book. The Bene Gesserit, a group of females with special spice-enhanced powers, are called witches throughout the book for the sort-of magic they practice. There are good ones and evil ones and they are all highly political. Basically, they’re space witches, and I love them.
That’s what I’ve got. What do you think? What did I miss? Let me know in the comments.