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11 Deliciously Witchy, Supernatural, and Magical Books Perfect for This Spooky Season



by Ashley Dickson-Ellison (@teachingtheapocalypse)


Hi! This is a 2023 update for this blog post with several new recommendations for you! The titles with the asterisk next to them are new for 2023.


Longtime listeners know that these days, I'm not usually big on spooky reads or horror books. However, I do love atmospheric reads, and I (perhaps contradictorily!) am a big fan of seasonal reads for the fall. The books I included here, many of which are middle grade or YA lit, are perfect for readers who enjoy a great seasonal book but who aren't looking for the kind of story that gives you nightmares. If you're looking for more recommendations, don't miss our Spooky Reads episodes from the past few years (episode 198, episode 147, and way back to episode 97!) where we give lots of spooky book recs.


B. B. Alston's Amari and the Night Brothers (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm) - After the disappearance of her beloved older brother, Amari's life drastically changes. As a hidden world opens up to her, she finds herself becoming a magician in training at a secret elite training school, all in a desperate attempt to uncover what happened to her brother. Amari faces all kinds of challenges from snobby students who are used to their legacy status putting her down for her natural talent to coping with the absence of her brother in her life. She is courageous and resilient in the face of so many obstacles. (Check out my full review here.) I absolutely loved both book 1 and 2 of this brilliant middle grade series.


Darcy Little Badger's Elatsoe (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm) - In an American setting reimagined with supernatural components, Elatsoe has powers that allow her to see (and raise!) the ghosts of dead animals. Although her America has a lot in common with our world, it is also full of magical, mystical creatures. After the suspicious death of her uncle, Elatsoe must lean into her heritage and embrace the legacy of her Lipan Apache family and specifically her connection to her "Six-Great" grandmother to face everything coming her way and to solve the mystery at the center of the story. We read this one as an Unabridged Buddy Read and Book Club and had great discussions! (Check out our book club episode here!)


Shea Ernshaw's Winterwood (Bookshop.org) - I love Ernshaw's work, which is always atmospheric and full of fascinating characters. In Winterwood, Nora Walker is rumored to be a witch. She is a finder and can find things that are lost and missing. Coming from a long line of strong women, she is grieving her beloved grandmother and does not relate well to her rarely there mom. What Ernshaw does so well is create a rich winter tapestry framed within a spooky, slightly off kilter setting. I also love her commentary on witches, strong women, and the way boys in groups can behave. A tender budding romance, an unlikely friendship, and a mysterious event are all at the core of this haunting tale. A boy is missing and another boy is dead, and Nora Walker will find herself at the crux of this grisly mystery, doing her best to keep herself from unraveling. (I also loved The Wicked Deep but felt like Winterwood challenged some of the more mainstream witchy tropes in ways I appreciated.)


Sophie Escabasse's Witches of Brooklyn (Bookshop.org) - My daughters and I are in love with this graphic novel series. Book 3 just came out in September, and we already finished that one, too! (Bookshop.org does have a nice boxed set of all three, Thrice the Magic.) Effie is a witch in training, learning from her aunts and the larger international witch community that she learns about as her powers begin to present themselves. These witches are care takers who promote peace and harmony with nature. Effie's problems range from relatable struggles with friends and school to how to manage major disasters through using her powers. Love it! *Note that this series has a new book in 2023, Spell of a Time (Bookshop.org), that just came out in September!


*Jennifer Givhan's River Woman, River Demon (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm) - Full of suspense, twists, and surprises, this psychological thriller keeps readers guessing and waiting to find out what actually happened. When Eva finds her husband Jericho, a university professor, at the river near their home holding a dead woman's body, she struggles to unravel what led to that moment. The woman, Cecelia, was a friend of theirs who worked with Jericho at a magick shop. She died in a way that echoed the loss of another dear friend of Eva's who drowned when they were young.


Suddenly unable to disentangle the threads of those traumatic events, Eva finds herself increasingly unable to trust her own senses as she tries to figure out how to help her husband without incriminating herself. Haunted by ghosts, experiencing blackouts, and troubled by her dreams, Eva tries to find her way back to the spiritual brujería she practices to guide her through this time.


Rachel Griffin's The Nature of Witches (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm) - In this fascinating witchy story, the young witches attend training schools to strengthen their natural abilities to support and control nature. Most witches are seasonal, meaning that their powers are strongest during a particular season of the year. Protagonist Clara discovers that she is an extremely rare Everwitch, who has optimal power during all four seasons of the year. This power has consequences, though, and she wants nothing to do with it because of the damage it can cause people she loves. However, as the natural environment grows more unstable, witches struggle to protect people and the planet, and Clara's unique powers become more important. This is a perfect read for the season!


*Deborah Harkness's A Discovery of Witches (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm) - I'm behind the times on the All Souls trilogy but am so glad that I dove into this one for the spooky season. I did not realize how long it was because I borrowed the e-book, which was a good thing because the long length might have been a deterrent, and I'm so glad that I dove into it! This one centers on Diana Bishop, who is a witch from the long lineage of Bridget Bishop of Salem, but who made a decision at the age of seven when her parents died that she would not use her powers. And yet she finds that she uses them on occasion, making small exceptions when it feels necessary.


During one of these rare moments of using her power, she is spotted by vampire Matthew Clairmont, who witnesses her accessing a manuscript he has been trying to find and view for literarily hundreds of years. But Matthew is not the only creature who notices Diana, and suddenly she finds herself surrounded by curious, and often aggressive, witches, demons, and vampires who all want to know how she did what she did and who want to see the book. In Matthew, historian Diana finds an unlikely ally as chaos unfurls around her.


Elizabeth Lim's Six Crimson Cranes (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm) - This was one of my favorite reads of 2021, and I'm eager to read the sequel, which just came out in August. In this story, princess Shiori discovers a dragon hiding at the bottom of the lake in her palace home. As the forbidden magic latent within her begins to present itself, she soon after finds herself cast out of the palace -- penniless, nameless, and cursed with a bowl on her head and an inability to say anything about her situation. Check out my full review of this one here. (*2023 update - I read the sequel, The Dragon's Promise, and I loved it as well, though I was more enchanted by the first book.)


*Erin Sterling's The Ex Hex (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm) - This witchy romance is perfect for readers looking for an atmospheric read with no scary moments. There is suspense, playful spookiness, and a lovely bit of steam, but there is nothing that will keep you up at night. In this one, it's been nine years since Vivienne got her heart broken and in the midst of a vodka haze decided to curse her ex, Rhys Penhallow. When Rhys comes back from Wales to her small town in Georgia for the first time in almost a decade, all hell breaks lose, and Vivi is forced to confront the uncomfortable reality that she might, indeed, have cursed him for real. And that the feelings that they once had might not be as far from the present reality as she wanted to believe. I loved this one and am excited to read book 2, The Kiss Curse, soon!


Aiden Thomas's Cemetery Boys (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm) - This book is perfect for those looking for ghosts as major characters during their seasonal reading, but it's also just an all-around outstanding read! In this story, Yadriel finds himself determined to prove to his family, a long line of brujx, once and for all that he is a brujo (rather than the bruja they believe him to be). He decides to perform a traditional ceremony to raise the spirit of someone who recently passed to prove his gender to them. And it works! But suddenly he finds himself stuck with the ghost of Julian Diaz, a recently dead student from his school that people don't even realize has died, and Julian is not ready to come to terms with his death. Despite this heavy premise, this is a heartfelt story full of humor and passion, and it invites readers to think in new ways and to question the traditions we often passively accept. I loved this one! Check out our book club discussion of this one here.


*Angie Thomas's Nic Blake and the Remarkables: The Manifestor Prophecy (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm) - This brilliant middle grade book is a fun magical story that will not disappoint. In this one, Nic Blake is turning twelve and is eager to become a powerful Manifestor like her dad, whom she adores. Although she and her dad are Remarkables with magical abilities, they maintain low profile lives within the Unremarkable world. But there are all kinds of secrets that have been kept from Nic, and her decision to sneak out to see an author she loves at a local bookstore unexpectedly pulls at the threads of these secrets in a way that shakes the foundation of her life, leading her on a wild and desperate quest to make things right.


(A note to our readers: click on the hashtags above to see our other blog posts with the same hashtag.)


Interested in what else we're reading? Check out our Featured Books page.


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