It's officially spooky season, and I, for one, am excited to celebrate the array of witchy books available. For nonfiction history buffs, look no further than Stacy Schiff's The Witches: Suspicion, Betrayal, and Hysteria in 1692 Salem (Back Bay Books, $19.99), which offers a comprehensive account of the Salem Witch Trials, starting with the convulsions of one young woman and resulting in the execution of more than a dozen men and women.
Alice Hoffman's Magic Lessons (Simon & Schuster, $17) also transports readers back to 17th-century Salem, offering an expanded history of the Owens family that stars in her popular novel Practical Magic (Berkley, $17) and its more modern-day prequel, The Rules of Magic (Simon & Schuster, $16.99).
Nearby Lowell, Mass., provides the setting for C.S. Malerich's The Factory Witches of Lowell (Tordotcom, $14.99), which imbues women on strike in the small mill town with a bit of strength in witchcraft. Danvers, Mass.--where the accusations originated that kicked off the Salem Witch Trials--also serves as the setting for Quan Barry's excellent We Ride Upon Sticks (Vintage, $16.95), as the 1989 Danvers High School field hockey team taps into darker powers to secure a state championship.
That's not to say New England has the corner on witch trial histories: Rivka Galchen draws on historical accounts from Württemberg, Germany, in Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27), which our reviewer called "a vibrant, provocative story" with a "decidedly modern tone."
Never one to miss a good contemporary romance (or a punny title), I gobbled up Lana Harper's Payback's a Witch (Berkley, $16), a queer revenge-gone-magic tale of a handful of witches out to take down the magical bro who's hurt them each in turn. Here's to the magic of the season! --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm