I’m going to be a witch this Halloween. I’ve got the hat and the black dress, and I just need to figure out my makeup.
Witches have always been one my favorite paranormal beings. Maybe it’s the spells and potions or the feminist undertones. It could also be a side-effect of growing up reading Harry Potter. Or maybe it’s just the aesthetic.
Anyway, if you can’t get enough witches, either, here are five short stories about them that you can read online. They all have different tones and fall under different subgenres, but each one is spellbinding in its own way. (See what I did there?)
The Witch of the Will by Aaron Perry
This story is epic. It feels like reading one of those six-inch thick high fantasy tomes. The scope encompasses the lifetimes of a few characters, and the setting spans different lands, but it’s all packed into one short story. The main character is known only as “the witch” until almost the end. Things kicks off with her deciding to steal the will of a king, and when she accomplishes that, and you think the story is over, that’s when things get really serious.
With thoughts about free will and consequences of choices, this story lingered in my mind for a while after reading it. Find it here in Issue #287 of Beneath Ceaseless Skies.
“When the Hedgewitch of Feckless Lovers’ Lane turned one hundred and five, she decided she did not fancy brewing potions for the rest of her life.”
Space Witch by Richaundra Thursday
I love the title of this story. I love that the story delivers exactly what its title promises. There’s a witch. It’s set in outer space. And it’s every bit as fun as that sounds.
Space Witch is a quick read and shows why you should never mess with a witch, whether she lives in a dark forest, a haunted house, or a spaceship. It’s got righteous vengeance, a bit of horror, and a great voice. Read it here in Issue #35 of Luna Station Quarterly.
“All the best hexes are specific, ya float me?”
The Practical Witch’s Guide to Acquiring Real Estate by A.C. Wise
I went into this story thinking I would get a cute, witchy take on house-hunting that would entertain me, since I recently went through the process myself (normal house-hunting, not the witch version). The story gave me that—and then blindsided me with some powerful emotions while dazzling me with lyrical prose.
The Practical Witch’s Guide to Acquiring Real Estate is funny and horrifying at times, but above all, it’s beautiful. Read it here in Issue 4 of Uncanny Magazine.
“As suggested by the title, this publication is meant to be a useful guide for witches at all levels of expertise and encompassing multiple styles of practice, who are interested in the acquisition* of real estate.”
Quest for the Improbable by Sandi Leibowitz
Witches show up in lots of fairytales, usually as the villain of the piece. This story has a definite fairytale feel. Its witch is ugly, mysterious, and lives in a hut in the middle of the forest, but she has a very different role than that setup usually implies.
I could guess where the story was going about halfway through, but like all romances, the point is the journey, not the destination. And Quest for the Improbable is a lovely journey indeed. Find it here in Issue 21 of Mirror Dance.
“The slow dance of the flurries mesmerized the prince.”
A Man and a River by Megan Tilley
This may be cheating a bit, because the being in this story clearly states, “I am not a witch,” though that’s how it’s referred to throughout the story. Whether its character is technically a witch or not, A Man and a River is too good for me to leave off this list.
It’s wonderfully atmospheric and is about FRIENDSHIP, which is one of my favorite themes. It also ends in a way that warmed my heart and made me want to have a good cry. Find it here in Issue 2 of Bracken.
“The witch that lived near the river was not to be messed with.”
Who are you favorite fictional witches? Are you dressing up for Halloween this year? Let me know in the comments!