So it’s the first day of March. Not a particularly remarkable date as such – unless, of course, you’re interested in witches!
As you might know, the 1st of March, 1692, was the day when the infamous Salem Witch Trials began in Massachusetts, USA. Poor Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne and Tituba were put on trial for witchcraft, found guilty and hanged. 27 people lost their life to this superstitious based mass hysteria, and the event is a potent example of what can happen if isolationism, religious extremism, false accusations and lapses in due process come together to create one big clusterfrak.
Luckily, we are all much more open-minded less superstitious when it comes to witches, and (in most places) we don’t hang or burn people anymore. If anyone claims to be a witch, we either politely ignore them or we give them a nicely cushioned room of their own where they can sit and snack on a whole range of interesting pills until they feel better.
Sarcastic remarks aside, witches – and magic in general – have become pretty popular in today’s society – something which is also reflected in literature! Whilst some books still portray witches as evil beings like Roald Dahl’s famous The Witches, more and more books are featuring non-child-eating female protagonists with magical abilities.
To celebrate the fact that we will hopefully never hang or burn another witch, I have compiled a little list of five books which show that witches aren’t all evil, child-eating women with deadly claws!
1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
One of the most popular books about witches (if not THE most popular book), Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is absolutely packed with awesome witches: Hermione Granger, Professor Minerva McGonagall, Molly Weasley, Helga Hufflepuff and Rowena Ravenclaw to name but a few. J. K. Rowling even refers to the witch burnings in one of the books and gives them a humoristic and child-friendly spin. If you want a big dose of witch love, this is the book (and series) to read!
2. Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
A book about sisterhood, family ties and, of course, magic! The sisters Sally and Gillian are both witches, and though they can’t really be described a normal, none of them eats children! You may have seen the movie with Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman, but the book is quite different. It still incorporates a lot of love, though, so if you’re into romantic novels with a magical twist, this might be something for you.
3. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
This is a book about an alchemical history professor at The University of Oxford who gets her life turned upside down when she stumbles upon a magical manuscript. She is compelled to embrace her magical powers which only makes her life much more complicated. Oh, and she’s got a vampire boyfriend.
4. Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison
Have you met Rachel Morgan? A bounty hunting witch who lives in a church with her vampire friend and her pixie sidekick. She is a bit of a disaster, but she means well – she’s even fighting to take down an elf drug lord!
5. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
The story about the wicked witch who maybe isn’t so wicked after all. If you’re a fan of the world of Oz, you probably already know about this little background story which features Elphaba’s life. It is the perfect story to round this little list off as it shows that there are always two sides to a story – and that even the most wicked witch may be a good human being!
Which book about witches is your favourite? And have you read any of the books above?