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A Witchy Read for a Fall Night

There's nothing like a good witchy tale to get in the mood for Halloween. The best witches have a practical head on their shoulders and a good sense of humor, and make for interesting and exciting stories. Here are a few favorites.

Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon
Also available in: e-audiobook

When little, twelve-year-old Molly arrives at Castle Hangnail to fill the vacancy for a wicked witch, the minions who dwell there have no choice but to give her the job and at first it seems she will be able to keep the castle open, but Molly has quite a few secrets that could cause trouble. Molly is sweet and spunky, but will she be able to overcome her faults?

Traces the story of dancer-turned-magician Adelaide Herrmann, placing her achievements against a backdrop of period conventions about women in the arts and her determination to continue her work after the death of her husband. This is a true story of a woman determined to make it in a magician's world.

Which witch? by Eva Ibbotson

Deciding that he must sire a child to carry on his tradition of loathing light, and blighting the beautiful, the Great Wizard Arriman announces a competition among the witches of Todcaster, one of whom will marry him. At first, Belladonna doesn't impress with her fluffy white magic, but if she works very hard she believes she can become a dark witch. 

The girl who drank the moon by Kelly Regan Barnhill
Also available in: e-book | audiobook

An epic fantasy about a young girl raised by a witch, a swamp monster, and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, who must unlock the powerful magic buried deep inside her. Xan is the witch in the forest, a woman with a powerful mythology around her, of which she knows nothing. Xan merely rescues abandoned children and delivers them to adoptive families. But one day she rescues a child who accidentally drinks the moon, and the regular order of things begins to fall apart.

Also available in: audiobook | video | large print

Rescued from the outrageous neglect of his aunt and uncle, a young boy with a great destiny proves his worth while attending Hogwarts School for Wizards and Witches. He is helped along the way by the greatest witch of his age, Hermione Granger. Their adventures continue in a total of seven books.

Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers

Two English children's new nanny arrives on the East Wind, slides up the bannister, carries an empty carpet bag with all kinds of things in it, and introduces Jane and Michael to some delightful people and experiences. Is she a witch? Convince me she's not.

The witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
Also available in: audiobook

In 1687 in Connecticut, Kit Tyler, feeling out of place in the Puritan household of her aunt, befriends an old woman considered a witch by the community and suddenly finds herself standing trial for witchcraft. 

Dealing with dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
Also available in: audiobook

Bored with traditional palace life, a princess goes off to live with a group of dragons and soon becomes involved with fighting against some disreputable wizards who want to steal away the dragons' kingdom. She befriends a no-nonsense witch, Morwen, after borrowing some cookware. Morwen features more heavily in some of the following volumes in The Enchanted Forest Chronicles.

The apprentice witch by James Nicol

Sent away in disgrace after failing her witch's assessment, Arianwyn learns that the remote community where she works as a magic apprentice is under the shadow of a dark hex infestation.

Howl's moving castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Also available in: audiobook | video

Eldest of three sisters in a land where it is considered to be a misfortune, Sophie is resigned to her fate as a hat shop apprentice until a witch turns her into an old woman and she finds herself in the castle of the greatly feared wizard Howl. 

Akata witch by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu

Twelve-year-old Sunny Nwazue, an American-born albino child of Nigerian parents, moves with her family back to Nigeria, where she learns that she has latent magical powers which she and three similarly gifted friends use to catch a serial killer.

Baba Yaga's assistant by Marika McCoola

The fearsome witch of Russian folklore mentors a brave teen who draws on her grandmother's wisdom to pass a series of tests, outfox a territorial bear, and make dinner for her child-eating host.

Also available in: audiobook | e-audiobook

A young witch-to-be named Tiffany teams up with the Wee Free Men, a clan of six-inch-high blue men, to rescue her baby brother and ward off a sinister invasion from Fairyland.