The Halloween Book Shelf- If You Dare

5 spellbinding novels for the season of the witch

This Halloween, conjure up some chills with one of these witchy reads

By Jennifer Worick  TODAY books

"The witch no. 1" lithograph

Forget zombies and vampires. Witches are—and have always been—where it’s at, at least literarily. Crank up the Stevie Nicks, light a candle or two, snuggle up with a black cat, and let your imagination take flight with these witchy reads.

‘A Discovery of Witches’

By Deborah Harkness
(Viking Adult)
The biggest witch book of the year, Harkness’ novel is a rollicking read that starts out as a literary mystery and turns into a magical love story. Yale historian and witch Diana Bishop is researching ancient alchemical texts at Oxford’s Bodleian Library when she inadvertently conjures a long-lost manuscript—and witches, vampires, and daemons in the process. She naturally falls for a dreamy 1,500-year-old vampire scientist and together they set out to discover the secrets of the enchanted manuscript. Read this and you’ll be champing at the bit for the next book in the planned trilogy, not to mention chucking your “Team Edward” shirts for “Team Matthew” yoga mats (it will make sense when you read it).
Cover of "The Physick Book of Deliverance...

‘The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane’
By Katherine Howe
Another magical literary mystery, Harvard grad student Connie Goodwin starts cleaning up her grandmother’s crumbling Marblehead, Massachusetts house when she discovers a key and a scrap of paper that lead her on a search for a “shadow book,” a collection of spells and remedies from the seventeenth century. Along the way, Connie comes to terms with her own connections to the Salem witch trials. Making this all the more compelling is the fact that the author herself is related to both Elizabeth Proctor and Elizabeth Howe, key figures in the Salem witch trials.


 ‘The Witching Hour’
By Anne Rice
(Ballantine Books)
The first in a series of books about a line of New Orleans witches, Rice’s unputdownable novel starts off by introducing us to brilliant neurosurgeon Rowan Mayfair. It just gets freaky from here. Discovering her legacy with the aid of her husband Michael, she learns of an evil spirit named Lasher. We can’t really reveal how Lasher becomes manifest, but we will say that you’ll first be up at night reading this book and then you might be up for a few nights after thanks to the book’s delicious creep-out factor.

‘Practical Magic’
By Alice Hoffman
(Berkley Trade)
Orphans Sally and Gillian go to live with their wacky aunts who are purported to be witches. Seeing women traipse through the house looking for love potions from the aunts, Sally and Gillian vow never to marry. This doesn’t exactly go as planned, as Gillian plows through a series of unsavory men and Sally finds herself widowed with two daughters of her own. When Gillian shows up with a dead boyfriend in her car, Sally has to work her magic and access her innate skills to get rid of an evil spirit and capture the heart of a curious cop.


‘The Witch of Blackbird Pond’
By Elizabeth George Speare
Many a girl has read this Newbery Award-winning book about a sixteen-year-old girl in 1687 who travels from Barbados to Connecticut. As you can imagine, Kit—a free spirit—chafes against the Puritan community and soon gravitates toward a widow who’s first ostracized for being a Quaker and then suspected of being a witch. When an illness sweeps through the village, townsfolk accuse the two outsiders of being witches. It’s Kit’s perseverance and generous personality that win the day and win over the rigid community.

New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Worick has published more than 25 books. Also a publishing consultant, she can be found at The Business of Books.

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