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Book Matters: Wicked-good witch books

Book Matters: Wicked-good witch books

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SALT LAKE CITY — When I was about 12 years old, I read "The Witch of Blackbird Pond." My mother, with clear insight into her daughter's mind, handed me this perfect book and so began my love of witch books. I can't get enough of these strong female characters who have an intimate knowledge of the earth, who wield tremendous power with grace, and who beat the odds no matter what trial is placed before them.

Every October, I look forward to decorating my house with witch-related trinkets, throwing a ridiculously extravagant witch party — to see footage from this year's epic party and to get some fabulous ideas for a witch-themed book club party, check out my latest Studio 5 segment — and, most of all, reading a new witch book.

So for all of you who also believe that "there's a little witch in all of us," this list is for you.

If you know what movie that quote is from, head over to my Facebook page, Book Matters – Teri Harman and leave a comment for this column with the answer. You'll be entered to win a copy of "The Witches" by Roald Dahl. Happy Halloween!

1 – "The Witch of Blackbird Pond" by Elizabeth George Speare

I recently re-read this Newbery Medal winner for our book club and remembered exactly why it's one of my favorite books of all time. First published in 1958, this beautifully written book has timeless themes of love, friendship and staying true to the heart. All the reasons I enjoyed this book as a girl still resonate with me now as an adult.

Kit is one of my favorite female literary characters. She is strong-willed, outspoken, curious and loving, and sees people for who they really are instead of as the labels they have been given by society. The relationship between her and Hannah, the old woman who lives by Blackbird Pond, and who has been labeled a witch by the quiet Puritan town, is touching and memorable. Although there is no fantastical magic in this story, Speare taps into a different kind of magic: life in its purest, richest moments.

2 – "The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane" by Katherine Howe

This book is part historical fiction, part supernatural thriller, and all wonderful. Connie Goodwin is a dedicated scholar. She knows the history of the Salem Witch Trials backwards and forwards. But when she stumbles across a hidden piece of paper while cleaning up her deceased grandmother's house, she discovers a whole new kind of witch history. Not only will Connie discover secrets of the past, but she will also unearth her own unrealized powers and come to understand the strengths of her female ancestors.

Howe's writing, while a bit academic, is vividly descriptive and immediately immerses the reader in the story. The romance is sigh-worthy and the mystery intriguing. Even with a predictable plot, this book is hard to put down.

3 – "The Witch's Daughter" by Paula Brackston

This witch book is creepy, intelligent and magical. Brackston's story follows the life of a hedge witch over many centuries. Elizabeth Hawksmith survives plagues, wars and heartbreak, constantly reinventing her life to stay hidden from the evil Gideon Masters, who saved her from the witch's gallows and first imbued her with magic.

Emotionally driven and beautifully written, this book is also a historical-supernatural mix. I loved the quiet strength and enduring perseverance of the protagonist. The historical element is fascinating and often heartbreaking. And, of course, the magic is wonderfully exciting.

Content note: There are some descriptive sexual references, occasional violence and mild foul language.

4 – "A Discovery of Witches" by Deborah Harkness

Young historical genius Diana Bishop is busy researching ancient alchemy texts when she unknowingly calls a spell- protected book from the stacks. Her brief encounter with this forbidden tome awakens an ancient feud and unleashes dangerous secrets. Soon daemons, vampires and witches are flocking to Cambridge University. But Diana wants nothing to do with the magical world, despite her prestigious witch ancestry and the electric magic flowing inside her. When the mysterious Matthew Clairmont, a well-respected researcher and a vampire, offers his aid, Diana's small, quiet world is tipped upside-down.

Expertly written and well researched, this paranormal novel is a wicked delight that will thrill witch and vampire fans alike. Brimming with sophistication and intrigue, this is an enjoyable read despite its length. Just know that even after wading through the 579 pages the story is not over; this is the first book in the All Souls Trilogy.

Content note: The book has a few tasteful sex scenes, some language and mild violence.

5 – "The Witches" by Roald Dahl

Taking a delightfully playful turn, I couldn't have a witch book list without including this one by my very favorite author. "The Witches" has thrilled children and adults for decades with its clever plot, creative mischief and perfectly creepy witches. In Dahl's imaginative world, the witches hide among the normal people, forever plotting the demise of children. Beneath their wigs and gloves, these witches are scary, scabby and extremely wicked. When a young boy accidentally discovers the Grand High Witch's plan to get rid of all the children in England, he embarks on a thrilling adventure that will change him forever.

This book is a great read-aloud choice, so both you and your child can enjoy the creepiness.

What is your favorite wicked-good witch book? Share your ideas on the Comment Board or the Motherhood Matters Facebook page.

Next week: Scary-fun reads for kids and teens

Book Calendar
  • Children's Book Festival: Oct. 15, Tooele. Brunch with authors, 10 a.m. to noon, and free events, noon to 3 p.m.
  • Park City Library: Friends of the Library Author Luncheon, Oct. 13, 11:30 a.m. Tickets available at the library.
  • Utah Humanities Council Book Festival: Sept. 30 to Oct. 31, multiple events statewide.
  • Dolly's Bookstore: author/violinist Gerald Elias, Oct. 8, 2:30 p.m.; Showing the Love Locals Night, Oct. 13, 7 p.m.; Classic Book Club: "Murder on the Orient Express" by Agatha Christie, Oct. 18, 7 p.m.
  • The King's English Bookshop: author John Price, Oct. 6, 7 p.m.; author Sholeh Wolpe, Oct. 6, 7 p.m. and Oct. 7, 7 p.m.; author Robinson Wells, Oct. 6, 7 p.m.; Heroes of Olympus Party, Oct. 7, 4 p.m.; author James Dashner, Oct. 11, 7 p.m.
  • Romance Writers of America Utah Chapter: The Art of Craft: Heart of the West Conference, Oct. 7-8, The Canyons in Park City.
  • Dr. Volts Comics: 21st Birthday Sale and Signings, Oct. 8.


About the Author: Teri Harman -----------------------------

Teri Harman writes and reads from home amid the chaos of three young children. For book reviews, book suggestions and more book fun, visit book- Find Teri on Facebook (Book Matters-Teri Harmon) or Twitter (@BookMattersTeri).

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