wickedest of all witches

Witch, please! My Top 5 Books about Witches

Witches are the monsters that are forgotten about when we talk about evil. Everyone remembers vampires, werewolves, and the like, but witches? They’re not considered to be as frightening. Maybe it’s because a witch isn’t a demon, they’re a human. They can be reasoned with more readily and understood. They’re not the malevolent evil of a vampire, or the brutal violence of a werewolf.

This prompt was given by Kaleena from Reader Voracious for Blogoween. Please check out her blog.

So in no particular order, here we go!

Witch, please! My Top 5 Books about WitchesHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling
Series: Harry Potter #1
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, young adult

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five-stars

Harry Potter has never played a sport while flying on a broomstick. He's never worn a cloak of invisibility, befriended a giant, or helped hatch a dragon. All Harry knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley. Harry's room is a tiny closet at the foot of the stairs, and he hasn't had a birthday party in eleven years.

But all that is about change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to a wonderful place he never dreamed existed. There he finds not only friends, aerial sports, and magic around every corner, but a great destiny that's been waiting for him...if Harry can survive the encounter.

Of course, Harry Potter has to be in here. Although my favourite in the series is the third book (Prizoner of Azkaban), there’s no denying that the first book is incredible. The world of wizardry is bright and vibrant, making it more child-friendly than it ever has been. It was less about pacts with demons and more about the coolest school you could ever go to. Hogwarts is iconic for a reason. We all wanted to go there and become witches and wizards. In fact, the only real downside is that most of the spells they were learning seemed to have any value.

Apparition is a pretty good one, but for every useful spell, there’s ten that you would never use. I’m honestly amazed that everyone could remember all the words for a spell in the first place.

Witch, please! My Top 5 Books about WitchesThe Witches by Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake

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three-stars

This is not a fairy-tale. This is about real witches. Real witches don't ride around on broomsticks. They don't even wear black cloaks and hats. They are vile, cunning, detestable creatures who disguise themselves as nice, ordinary ladies. So how can you tell when you're face to face with one? Well, if you don't know yet you'd better find out quickly-because there's nothing a witch loathes quite as much as children and she'll wield all kinds of terrifying powers to get rid of them.

A Roald Dahl classic, the Witches was this life changing book for me. It was the first time I read through a horror novel. Despite its light-hearted tone, it really is horrific. There are witches who live out in the real world and the most important job that they have is to kill children. That’s right, they’re coming for you and you’ll never know because they look like normal people.

The moral of this entire story is to not take presents from strangers or to trust them, but wow. The cruel ways they describe killing children is gruesome for any child. And why do they want to kill the children?

Because children smell like excrement to them. And the dirtier the child is, the safer they are from the witches.

So don’t be afraid to get dirty, kids. It might save your life.

Witch, please! My Top 5 Books about WitchesA Nameless Witch by A. Lee Martinez
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction

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five-stars

A tale of vengeance, true love, and cannibalism.

Being born undead can have its disadvantages, such as eternal youth and flawless beauty; things most unsuitable for a witch. Hiding behind the guise of a grimy old crone, the witch is content living outside Fort Stalwart with her unlikely band of allies: a troll named Gwurm, an enchanted broom, and a demonic duck named Newt. She leads a simple life filled with spells, potions, and the occasional curse.

This is a book that I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it. My friend picked it out for me on a whim from the library. I had no idea what I was getting into and now that I’ve read it, I can honestly say that I love it. It works to subvert the classic ideas of a witch while at the same time maintaining the facade of them. The main character, our nameless witch, is beautiful. But witches are meant to be ugly, so she does her best to hide her charms.

She’s meant to have a demon with her and that demon takes the form of a very foul-mouthed goose. And witches certainly aren’t supposed to go on a quest to try and save the world. But she has to do something. She lives in this world too.

The world is bitter, but all the characters we meet are charming. It’s the first time I can think of where I was actively rooting for a character who I’d never learned the name of.

Witch, please! My Top 5 Books about WitchesAkata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
Series: Akata Witch #1
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, young adult

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four-stars

Akata Witch transports the reader to a magical place where nothing is quite as it seems. Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, twelve-year old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino and thus, incredibly sensitive to the sun. All Sunny wants to do is be able to play football and get through another day of school without being bullied. But once she befriends Orlu and Chichi, Sunny is plunged in to the world of the Leopard People, where your worst defect becomes your greatest asset. Together, Sunny, Orlu, Chichi and Sasha form the youngest ever Oha Coven. Their mission is to track down Black Hat Otokoto, the man responsible for kidnapping and maiming children. Will Sunny be able to overcome the killer with powers stronger than her own, or will the future she saw in the flames become reality?

A fantasy novel set in Nigeria, we meet Sunny. She’s ironically named considering that she’s albino and cannot stand being in the sun for too long. Sunny is a teenager when she realizes that she is a witch and has to learn about this new world. It’s a world where money appears from thin air to reward knowledge and it’s the smartest people in the world who run it. Basically, it’s a world where Hermione would feel right at home.

Comparisons to Harry Potter are inevitable, but aside from Sunny being someone who didn’t know the magical world existed, there isn’t much to go on.

Harry Potter is chaste and despite the dangers of its world, it’s a sanitized adventure. It’s kid friendly. Akata Witch is definitely for teens and set away from traditional European structures. Instead, it’s in a whole new world that we couldn’t even dream of. While there are some places where I stumbled, Akata Witch was one of the best reads of the year for me.

Witch, please! My Top 5 Books about WitchesHowl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, young adult

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five-stars

Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl's castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there's far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.

Honestly, this last spot was a toss up between the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Howl’s Moving Castle. I’m sure you can guess which one won out. Howl’s Moving Castle exists within a vibrant new world of magic and witchcraft. It’s a world where the witches and wizards are emotional, less careful with their powers. They have all the power in the world and still, they’re petty. Their humanity is amplified by their powers rather than reduced.

I loved this book on so many levels, but the best part of it was Sophie. She is our insight into the world and as awe-inspiring as Howl is, Sophie is the one who reminds us that he’s just a whiny brat. All that power and still, he whines.

It truly is a world where anything seems possible. While Harry Potter is densely populated enough to have strict rules and laws, that doesn’t exist here. Witches and Wizards are powerful beings, able to do what they wish.

The restrictions on them are slim and that helps make for a more fantastical world.

Is there a book about witches that I missed? Do you have one that you think I should read? Let me know in the comments below.

4 thoughts on “Witch, please! My Top 5 Books about Witches

  1. Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight says:

    You’re right, witches seem less scary because they’re so human and can be reasoned with, but powerful ones could easily do just as much, if not more, harm than a typical monster! HP, of course that needs to be on the list! I love PoA too. I know I read Witches in elementary school but don’t remember it :-/ A Nameless Witch sounds like it has such a cute premise! And I’ve heard such great things about How’s Moving Castle!

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