Witches are always popular around Halloween, or even just in the fall, for that autumnal vibe. In my part of the world, we’re just entering summer, but in some places, bookworms are staring down the business end of winter. If you’re heading into winter, witch books are perfect for a cozy, it’s-dark-and-stormy-outside feeling.
But you can still enjoy queer witch books in summer! Summertime is an ideal time for witches because of those gorgeous (and magical!) midsummer nights. A lot of witches have strong nature connections, and summer is full of life and growing things.
As a queer person, I feel a connection to people who practice witchcraft in real life (witches, Pagans, Wiccans, etc). Witches have a remarkable parallel with queerness, as, like LGBTQIA+ people, witches have been ostracized and punished throughout history for being different. They are often isolated and friendless, which is how many queer people have felt at some point in their lives. Witches also come in many shapes and sizes, and there are lots of different kinds of witches. There isn’t one kind of ‘queer’; there’s your ‘queer,’ my ‘queer,’ and the person next-door’s ‘queer.’ Whatever ‘queer’ means to you, maybe a witch book will spark your reading up this pride season.
I’ve selected a dozen queer witch books for you to feast your eyes on. There’s everything from comics to short stories, and even a wizard, in this list. Some of these books have queer themes or characters, others were written by queer authors. I was also thrilled to discover a memoir by someone who grew up practicing witchcraft, and who discusses queer feminist themes in her book. Enjoy!
Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
Written by a queer author, Brown Girl in the Ring is about traditional female magic. It takes readers on a journey through a city abandoned by the rich and elite, and left to the poorer people. It has herb lore, body snatching, and fierce feminine bonds down generations of the same family.
Half-Bad by Sally Green
Half-Bad is pretty popular in the YA world. It has some distressing themes, but it is also about a male witch, and there are queer characters. The story follows two factions of witches who detest each other. Nathan, the main character, is an illegitimate child of both sides. If you’re looking for a whole series to get stuck into, Half-Bad is the start of a trilogy, and the author has a few other books out.
Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova
Labyrinth Lost is about powerful witches called brujas. Alex’s family is missing, vanished by her backfiring Deathday magic, and she is left with a brujo she doesn’t trust, Nova.
Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle
Moira Fowley-Doyle is queen of witchy atmospheres. And with Spellbook of the Lost and Found, she has queer themes too! It’s about grief and loss, but also about mysterious missing items and newfound friendship. This one is perfect for reading in the park on a summer night. It follows Olive, who meets three strangers and discovers the world of inkdrawn charms.
Toil and Trouble edited by Jessica Spotswood and Tess Sharpe
Toil and Trouble is an anthology of witch stories, several of which have queer characters or themes. It has some excellent writers, including Zoraida Cordova and Emery Lord. If you’re looking for some shorter, bite-sized pieces to hold your attention, instead of a full-length book, I recommend this one. One of the stories features a girl who can’t kiss the boy she likes without causing a hurricane, another follows a woman caught and accused of witchcraft, by men.
The Brilliant Death and The Lost Coast by Amy Rose Capetta
Amy Rose Capetta has written not just one, but two queer witch books. Her earlier novel The Brilliant Death is about a strega who can turn her enemies into beautiful items, like music boxes. The Lost Coast is about six queer witches, and takes place in the misty redwood forests of California.
Mooncakes by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker
Mooncakes is about a witchy bookshop, demons, werewolves, and New England. The bookshop lends customers spellbooks, and does a little supernatural detective work on the side. This one is for those of you who like horses or wolves too. If the forest is somewhere you call home, you need to pick up Mooncakes!
I’m a Gay Wizard by V.S. Santoni
Not witches, exactly, but I wanted to include I’m A Gay Wizard because, like in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, girls can be wizards and boys can be witches. That philosophy ties into queer issues around gender, and the cover makes me think of Pride. The book seems to include a female wizard, but I haven’t read this one myself yet. It’s about a couple of young people who accidentally cause an earthquake in Chicago, whilst casting spells.
This Coven Won’t Break by Isabel Sterling
With distinct lesbian themes, This Coven Won’t Break is the sequel to These Witches Don’t Burn. Burning witches is a direct parallel to the persecution LGBTQIA+ people have suffered, but this series has a lighter feel and will take you away from the bleakness into a world of candles and girlfriends. This Coven Won’t Break weaves a tale of witches fighting for their lives and bringing down witch hunters.
Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey
Magic for Liars is an adult book, containing many adult themes. It has a lesbian couple in it, and is written by a queer author. Magic for Liars is like Hogwarts if you were the teacher, and if it was more like an American high school. The main character is a non-magical woman with a magical twin sister. The magical twin teaches at the school, and the non-magical twin ends up forced to run an investigation there following a gruesome discovery.
Content Warnings: teenage sex, teenage pregnancy, abortion
Initiated: Memoir of a Witch by Amanda Yates Garcia
A nonfiction book to round off the list. This one’s a memoir written by someone who grew up Wiccan. It discusses the intersection between witchcraft and feminism and covers queer topics.
Looking for more witchy goodness? Check out Book Riot’s 100 Must-Read Books About Witches or this list of 20 Witchy Books from 2019. If you’re after more queer fantasy, try 50 Must-Read LGBT Fantasy Books.