Every few years, we hear that witches are having a moment, that they’ve made a resurgence in pop culture. Let’s decide something here and now: witches are always having a moment because witches are powerful, intriguing, and awesome.
And what’s better than one witch? A whole mess of them—a coven. They don’t all wear black and pointed hats or ride together through the night on broomsticks, but our favorite covens share a few things in common:
• They’re magical, in every sense of the word.
• They’re powerful, beyond the abilities of any individual.
• They’re complicated, with some good and some less good.
• They’re listed below.
Akata Witch, by Nnedi Okorafor
Sunny is an American-born 12-year-old who has moved with her family to Nigeria, where their roots lie. Sunny also has albinism and has always struggled to fit in. The opening story of Okorafor’s duology is steeped in West African mythology and finds Sunny just on the verge of discovering something else exceptional about herself: her magical powers. As it turns out, Sunny is a Leopard in a world of Lambs. After meeting friends with powers like her own, Sunny joins together with them to form an Oha Coven, through which they will uncover and fight through a world full of dangers. As you do, at all of 12.
The Midnight Witch, by Paula Brackston
When Lady Lilith Montgomery’s father dies, he leaves her something to remember him by: the title of Head Witch of the Lazarus Coven. Naturally, that new job comes with hefty responsibility and inherent danger. Lilith will lead the coven in its charge to guard the Elixir against the shadowy Sentinels who would reclaim it. Things are complicated when she goes and falls in love with a non-witch—a fact made more awkward by her engagement to someone else.
The Secret Circle series, by L.J. Smith
It’s an oldie, but a goodie. Smith had a corner on ‘90s supernatural series — she also brought you The Vampire Diaries books— and here she focuses on Cassie, who moves from sunny California to fire-and-brimstone New England. There, she falls in with the in-crowd, which just happens to be the coven that rules New Salem. Honestly, the high-stakes high school drama is scarier than any of the witches’ brew here.
The Tiffany Aching series, by Terry Pratchett
Pratchett’s long-running Discworld series had several standout sets of characters, one of them being his feisty, take-nothing witches. Trainee witch Tiffany Aching spun out of that series into her own five novels because she’s as strong-willed as any of the other more mature witches she hangs around. (No offense to Granny Weatherwax, of course.) As early as age nine, she led a rescue mission into the land of the Fairies. So there’s a nice complete feel to Tiffany’s adolescence when in the final Discworld novel, The Shepherd’s Crown, she and her fellow witches stand poised to fend off a fairy invasion.
Born Wicked, by Jessica Spotswood
The coven in the Cahill Witch Chronicles is mostly focused on three sisters—Cate, Maura, and Tess—which lends it a Practical Magic flavor that is sorely missing from the world at large. Before her mother died, Cate promised to take care of her sisters, not only because they’re young. All three sisters are witches, a fate that would spell death if they were found out by Brotherhood priests. But Cate must soon make decisions about her path forward, and any decision she could make is fraught with peril.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, by Ann Brashares
Well, the pants are certainly bewitched. You can’t deny that. Nor can you deny the power of a girl gang, which this sisterhood has in spades.