Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Seven witchy historical fiction reads for Halloween

It's October, and in Illinois this means the evenings are getting darker, the weather's getting colder, and the chilly winds are blowing the fallen leaves all over the place; in other words, it's a good time to tuck in with an atmospheric autumn read.  Witches are trending in historical fiction, along with Gothic-themed novels. Within that group, novels about magical powers that descend through the female line can practically form their own subgenre. Here are seven such novels — seven being a magical number, of course — just right for the Halloween season. (One of these, the Sayers, isn't out until February, but reviewers can find it on NetGalley.)

What Should Be Wild by Julia Fine

In this multi-period historical fantasy set alternately in modern times and the past, a young woman with mysterious powers lives in near-isolation at the forest's edge, not knowing that her female ancestors still live there, unable to escape.

The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox

In a remote pocket of 19th-century New England, a young woman with supernatural gifts passed down from an accused Salem witch comes to terms with her family mansion's creepy history.

The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs by Katherine Howe

Howe's new novel, linked by characters and themes to her debut, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, follows her protagonist, Boston professor Connie Goodwin, as she learns more about a long line of talented women while attempting to banish a curse.

Hag by Kathleen Kaufman

This multi-generational, magical story of the Cailleach, a local deity from ancient Scotland, and the power she instilled in her female descendants, moving forward to modern times.

The Witch's Kind by Louisa Morgan

Along the Pacific Northwest coast in the 1940s, a woman and her aunt find their lives changed after an abandoned baby girl — who turns out to have a mysterious gift — is brought to them.

A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan

Beginning in Brittany in the 1820s and moving forward through the generations until WWII, Morgan tells the story of women who carve out paths in a world that would shun them, or worse, if their secrets became known.

A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers

In this novel of reincarnation, love, and hereditary magic, beginning in Belle Epoque France, a young woman and her lover, a painter, get caught up in the effects of a curse that endures until the present day.  Out in February 2020.


  1. Nice list--thanks!

  2. Thanks for the list - I'm going to try to gather copies of "The Witch's Kind" for my next book club choice!

    1. I had my eye on that one also, since I liked Secret History of Witches, and it looked like something other than the usual setting/storyline. Hope it's a hit with the book club!