“So You Want to Read About…” is a new feature here at Bibliophilic Monologues where I will come up with six books dealing with one theme/species/stuff. It should be fun and it leads me to discover new books which is always cool, right? Right. Anyway, so today’s subject/species are witches. Fascinated by covens? Want something in depth and engrossing to take you away from your maudlin (and non-witchy) life. Here are six suggestions, not including Harry Potter, which…you know, is a given. You might have heard of them or not but they are all books I’ve read and enjoyed so…
Series: The Hollows
Currently 11 volumes out
Estimated number of volumes: 13
Author: Kim Harrison
Genre: Urban Fantasy
The main character in this novel is a witch called Rachel Morgan whose escapades are so entertaining that you will be left a bit bemused as you try to work out what is happening, who is happening and why you are craving slightly illegal cookies. Harrison creates a splendid world that was torn apart by the very innocuous (but apparently deadly) tomatoes, artificially engineered tomatoes, that killed off more than half the humanity and let the supernatural creatures come out to play. There are vampires, elves, pixies, werewolves, demons. You name it, the book has it. The romance aspect of this book is meaty as Rachel lives in a church with a female vampire who would like to bite her in more ways than one. The problem isn’t that Rachel doesn’t like vampires or biting but that she prefers the vampire to be of the male variety. There’s Jenks, the world’s most fouth-mouthed pixie and his gajillions of children. There’s Trent, the entirely too delicious Elf and demons galore. Each installment in the series is like riding a rollercoaster. I happen to love rollercoasters.
Series: Wicked Years
Currently: 4 volumes out
Author: Gregory Maguire
Publisher: Regan Books
What Maguire does is take the rather simple tale of The Wizard of Oz and rework it into a splendid vibrant world where Elphaba, who will eventually be known as The Wicked Witch of the West, shines with her passion for the world and the people she lives in. Maguire’s recreation of Oz is so minutely detailed, his characterization of Elphaba is so exquisite that despite the common tale insisting that Elphaba is the bad guy, you will not be able to help relating and empathizing with who Elphaba is and the troubles she struggles with. There are, and I recently learned the official literary term for this, splendid sections of stichomythia (which is rapidfire exchange of dialogue, repartee, think Gilmore Girls and their fast dialogue exchange) that expresses Elphaba’s character so beautifully. I also loved how Glenda is portrayed and how the minute differences in each character is worked out. If you want a witch story that takes some of the old but makes up a lot of the new and presents it to you on a yellow brick road, then this is the book for you.
Series: Lives of the Mayfair Witches
Currently: 4 volumes out
Author: Anne Rice
What can I say? You either like Anne Rice or you don’t. My own feelings about her writing range from fascination to abject apathy. Lives of the Mayfair Witches is an epic series that involves a dynasty of witches and some very complex characters with some crossover by the vampires from her other, much loved series. There are weird characters and forgive me, because it has been some time since I read these but there are also some very Anne-Rice-esque sexytimes that involve a ghost and an invisible lover and well, weird is weird. However, despite the potential ick factor, I remember being really engaged by this series. The characters were complex and the stories were intricate and layered often to the point that I only got it once the book was over. If you want something really complex and quite darker, and a bit more of an intense read, I’d recommend this one. If you want something lighter and not as difficult to stomach, then you might like the next few suggestions better.
Currently: 3 volumes out
Author: James Reese
Publisher: Harper Torch
Okay, so I lied. This one is just as disturbing, perhaps maybe even more than, as Anne Rice’s series. The series is about Herculine who is a hermophrodite and also a witch and very involved in character development and obscure history that somehow falls into place later on during the narrative. This is even more complex than Lives of the Mayfair Witches simply because Herculine is not an easy character to characterize or understand. She or He, as suits his/her physical self, is often contradictory. The reason I suggest this is because it’s a historical novel and it really is fascinating, the gradual cohering of the main character. This one is not easy reading at all so only into it if you are ready to read some convoluted but interesting stuff.
Currently: 16 volumes out
Author: Cate Tiernan
I was obsessed with this series like you wouldn’t believe. I saved and saved and saved to get all the titles in the series. I begged the school librarian to buy the new installments – it was just a sickness. And the series that may seem like a lot but at about 200 pages/book is not so much, delivered in all the ways that I wanted it to. Except for the last two books in the series but I ignored them and remained happy with what I got. The series, while very typical YA fluff fair, nevertheless retains this sense of gravitas that perhaps has a lot to do with the epigraphs before each chapter that situates the books in a context, in a history that is so much more important than the supernatural romance we’re in for. The epigraphs are particularly important in the telling of the history of the witches and I love the way Tiernan so sneakily “told” without really telling. Also, her love interests are swoonworthy, particularly Hunter. And the main character does not annoy me, yay. If you want something light yet something totally addictive, this is for you.
Currently: 2 volumes out
Author: Carolyn MacCullough
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
I really, really liked this duology. At least I think there are only two books in this series though I would not at all complain if there were more than two. The characterizations are complex, the plot is intriguing and intricate and the love interest swoonworthy. The main character is very likable and the reveal at the end of book two makes things so much more substantial. The writing is gorgeous too. The prose flows like silk. This may be a more personable Lives of the Mayfair Witches without the weird sexytimes and weird creatures. It’s just really good and if you want something that leaves you with a glow at the end, definitely try this out.