From spells to rituals to potions, witches have a list of ingredients for every task they embark on. But, what about the stories of witches? What are the ingredients that make a perfect witchy read? Or even better, a witchy listen? It’s a combination of multiple things: fierce protagonists, of course, magical elements ranging from fabulist to augmented realities. And lastly, I think, a sense of anarchy that pervades the narrative. The feeling that at any given time, the world could go up in flames. When all of this comes together on audio, it becomes an unforgettable experience, maybe even going so far as to become a part of your subconscious. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself adding frog legs to your stew! The list that follows is a selection of such listens that range across all genres — romance, fantasy, mystery — and feature stories of characters who are not afraid to take matters into their own hands.
The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman, Narrated by Jennifer Ehle
This is the fourth and final book in The Practical Magic series. I won’t lie, with every book that has come out in this series, I have found myself wondering if that part was needed. Every time I read each new release, though, all I have wanted is more. So, it breaks my heart a little that this will be the last we get to see of the Owens family.
The Owens family is cursed in matters of love. This is a curse that goes back 300 years, when their ancestor Maria Owens first dabbled in the forbidden art. Now that their aunt Jet Owens has sighted the death watch beetle and only has seven days to live, the family decides to do something about the curse once and for all. As this journey takes them from Paris to London to the English countryside, secrets come to the surface and all the Owenses have to decide between love and legacy once and for all. Jennifer Ehle, skilled at bringing magic on-page to life, is the perfect narrator to see off this conclusion.
Sistersong by Lucy Holland, Narrated by Robyn Holdaway
If you have read and loved works like Circe and Ariadne that are grounded in mythology but from the perspective of those whose stories go unheard, then this is one to watch out for. Set in Ancient Britain in the year 535 AD, three sisters — Riva, Keyne, and Sinne — are determined to pave their own paths forward, in a world that won’t let them. When fate brings a magician and a warrior amidst them, they find a weapon they had never been used before suddenly at their disposal: magic. Robyn Holdaway, known for their role in Sex Education and Dr. Who voiceovers, is exactly who you want narrating this tense and atmospheric read.
Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart, Narrated by Nicola Lambo and Tamika Katon-Donegal
This one is for everyone who is tired of witches having to be covert in their practices, and is right about ready to see them in a world of their own. It tells of Iraya, who is heir to the throne but has spent life behind a cell. Then we have Jazmyne, who has been promised the throne, but the only thing in her way is the woman sitting on it. When Iraya and Jazmyne decide to join their witchy forces to take over, their plans come to a halt when the only enemy they have left is each other. This Jamaican culture–inspired read is perfect for your fantasy and witchy fix. A multiple POV requires multiple narrators, and actors Nicola Lambo and Tamika Katon-Donegal make the perfect duo to capture the action and fantastical elements.
The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling, Narrated by Caitlin Davies
A witchy romcom? Where do I sign up? To read it and to live it, am I right? This tells of Vivienne, living in the small town of Grave Glen, Georgia. Her boyfriend, Rhys, broke her heart, and she did what any witch would do: she hexed him, lightly. Or so she thought. When Rhys returns almost a decade later, Vivienne realizes her hex might have done more damage than she had realized, and it’s up to her to sort it out before it ends up destroying Rhys and her town. Expert at narrating the tensions that make up a romance, the House of Night series narrator does a fantastic job at balancing the whimsy with the witchy.
The Witch Haven by Sasha Peyton Smith, Narrated by Piper Goodeve
What if I told you that you could get your fix of Gilded Age New York, witchcraft, and found family all in one read? Set in 1911, Frances Hallowell spends her day caught in her work as a seamstress. When she is attacked in her shop, moments later, her attacker is found dead with her scissors in his neck. Intercepted in the middle of her confusion, two nurses immediately appear under the guise of taking Frances away to a sanitarium, which is actually a school for witches. There, Frances learns about her powers, about the mysterious death of her brother, and what it means to have to choose between power and those you love. With multiple genre narrations in her arsenal, from romance to horror, you are in good hands with Goodeve’s narration
Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood, Narrated by Nneka Okoye
Do you know what makes for a listen that will have you over stirring the pudding you are making? A witch taking down evil. Our protagonist, Andromeda, is a debtera, or an exorcist practiced in the art of removing evil spirits. She doesn’t have many options to survive in the world when Magnus offers her a job to exorcise his castle, so she agrees. By the time Andromeda realizes that Magnus hasn’t been transparent about all that roams the cast, it’s too late to leave. This is narrated by Nneka Okoye, one of the fantastic narrators of Love in Color by Bolu Babalola. Hers is the voice you need when witnessing a witchy takedown.
The Lighthouse Witches by C.J. Cooke, Narrated by Eva Feiler, Lesley Harcourt, Jess Nesling, Joshua Manning
This is a wild one. It’s a mash-up of gothic, mystery, and fantasy all in one. When Liv is commissioned to a remote Scottish island to paint a mural, she feels that it’s the fresh start she and her daughters have been looking for. Once on the island, two of her daughters go missing. She learns that she has taken up residence atop an ex-prison for women who were accused of witchcraft. Twenty-two years later, we follow Luna, the sole sister left behind, who is still searching for her family. One day, Clover — one of her missing sisters — reaches out to Luna. But Clover hasn’t aged a day beyond 7 years old. Luna finds herself wondering exactly what happened to her family and if this girl is even her real sister, or a darker, deadlier version of her? Told from several perspectives, the quartet of narrators does a perfect job at making chills run down your spine.
This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron, Narrated by Jordan Cobb
Witches are more than just hex-ers, they are healers and helpers. This tells the story of Briseis, who can grow plants from tiny seedlings with a single touch. When her aunt dies and her parents decide to move away from Brooklyn, they hope it will give Briseis a chance to manage her gifts. But their new house is stranger than they imagined; an old school apothecary, a walled garden, and a set of instructions come with it. What’s more, people show up at their door looking for tinctures and potions to solve their problems, along with a troublesome group who puts the family line in danger. Now Briseis must learn not just how to manage her powers, but also how to allow them to manifest as well. Jordan Cobb — the co-narrator of fantasy series like A Song of Wraiths & Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown and Dread Nation by Justina Ireland — is who you want to take in this battle.