Stories about witches have captivated literature for hundreds of years, and today YA novels about witches are as popular as ever. In this list of witchy YA books, you’ll find magical stories that are endlessly inventive, drawing on the power of the imagination to whip up an enchanting story.
Although sometimes classified as a Middle Grade read, it’s impossible to talk about inventive witchy YA reads without mentioning The Chronicles of Narnia, a classic in the genre. Over the course of the 7-book series, C. S. Lewis created a truly extraordinary world where a cruel and evil White Witch reigns as Queen in a land condemned to winter. The children who enter through a magical wardrobe believe her at first to be kind and caring, only to later discover her true evil nature. Ultimately good triumphs over evil, leading to a satisfying conclusion to this epic collection of swash-buckling adventures full of talking animals and all sorts of imaginative magical twists.
Akata Witch is a feel-good read for anyone who has ever felt a little different from everyone else. In this magical realism novel, Sunny feels like she doesn’t quite fit in because she is an albino and she was born in America (an “Akata”). Now 12 years old and attending school in Nigeria, Sunny faces bullying and negative remarks from her peers as she struggles to fit into two worlds. When she starts to notice she possesses certain… abilities… Sunny is welcomed into the magical world of the Leopard people and taught how to harness her powers as a witch. This novel is an uplifting and powerful story about finding a community and recognizing your gifts and should be on your list of witchy YA reads. Okorafor published a sequel in 2017.
I fell in love with this book by its cover alone. It perfectly captures the feel of this witchy thriller. Like everyone in her town, River has been fascinated by the Grace sisters. There’s something so hypnotic about these mysterious young women, an air of elevated elitism with a supernatural vibe. Are they really witches, as the rumors suggest? River gets pulled into their world unexpectedly and has to learn the limits of magic and reality, and how the two often intersect. Some have characterized the novel as “Twilight with witches,” but I don’t think that’s a bad thing as witchy YA reads go. Atmospheric and sophisticated, The Graces will make you feel like you’re in a stylish film where anything’s possible—even sitting at the cool kid’s table.
Some of these books add the supernatural to the ordinary world, but Truthwitch is definitely a high fantasy novel. In the first novel in the planned five-book Witchlands series of breathtaking magic, Truthwitch focuses on two best friends, Safiya and Iseult, each a witch with a different prized power. Safi is an extremely rare Truthwitch, a gift and a curse that many would kill for. As their land threatens to erupt into war, the besties find solace in the royal court when they become allies of young Prince Marik. I love Dennard’s—dare I say it—bewitching world building. The Witchlands Series is one of the most exciting witchy YA reads in a fantasy series in years. Check it out today.
The Salem Witch Trials have fascinated America for more than three hundred years since the wave of trials in 1692 and 1693. They are as much a part of our history as any other supernatural occurrence. Katherine Howe is a direct descendent of three of the accused witches during the Salem trials, and that heritage is often incorporated into her books, like Conversion, which is a modern interpretation of Salem’s epidemic of accusations. Conversion looks at how suspicion and mass panic can spiral out of control in a tightly wound environment, in this case the elite St. John’s Academy ready to dissolve into paranoia thanks to the enormous pressure these students face in a competitive environment of wealthy perfectionists. When a mysterious outbreak of fits, seizures, and weird behavior spreads through the school, the students and community must find a way to decipher fact from fiction, truth from rumor, and stop the episodes. This mystery-thriller with a supernatural bent was praised by Publishers Weekly as “…thrilling….A chilling guessing game of a novel that will leave readers thinking about the power (and powerlessness) of young women in the past and present alike.” Howe has also written the witchy YA novel, The Appearance Annie van Sinderen, and several novels for adults.
What are some of your favorite witchy YA reads?