Top Five: Sexy Witch Books (NSFW)

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Supernatural erotica has been as big as a great huge cock in publishing recently, and I’ve got no problem with that. Personally, though, I favour the romantic b-plot — and the active protagonist. If I’m reading heterosexual romance, and I usually am, I need the woman to retain a sense of self and some assurance of agency. Yes: it should go without saying. An easy rule that works for me is, “if the heroine is a witch, I’m listening”. Witches have magic, magic is power, and witch magic is power controlled. Witches — magical girls’ final forms — are a secure enough template that the book won’t, probably, play havoc with my nerves. In the name of supportive community, I’m sharing some of my positive discoveries with you.

The Top Five Sexy Witch Books I read in 2013 or Thereabouts

Incidentally, these are all titles I picked up in charity shops! Never think you have no choice, just because you can’t buy new on the regular. And always take a chance on an iffy cover and a trashy blurb. They hide gems.

Season of the Witch Natasha Mostert Dutton, 2007Season of the Witch

Natasha Mostert

Dutton, 2007

The protagonist of this book is a man named Gabriel. He spends a lot of the novel reading the diary of one of his two erotic-love interests. That’s pretty shady, but as he’s introduced as a hacker before any of this happens — and the diarist in question later recounts an early experience of accidental sexual voyeurism — I figure the book’s gently flagging itself for privacy kink.

The two potential partners are sisters, and they’re pretty fantastic. They’re physical “opposites” (one slim, dark-haired, tall and muscled, the other shorter, red-haired and voluptuous) and they spend their leisure time in different ways, but both push themselves to similar limits, expend effort and energy in the living of their lives, and are expressly categorised as highly intelligent. One is celebrated quite straightforwardly as a genius, by an expert in her subject. The women are eroticised for their accomplishments far more than for their physicalities. Gabriel is something of a chump, but that’s OK.

The sisters are alchemists (it is a far more considered, intellectual alchemy than one might expect), the book includes murder, and their house felt so well described I could smell it.

If you like: Organic artisanal beauty products, looking at people with your chin raised, vague claustrophobic nausea, Sherlock (I guess)

A Discovery of Witches All Souls trilogy, book one  Deborah Harkness Headline, Sep 2011A Discovery of Witches

All Souls trilogy, book one

Deborah Harkness

Headline, Sep 2011

Have you ever found yourself reading piles and piles of Mills & Boon, unable to enjoy yourself but unable to stop? I have. And that’s one reason I found A Discovery of Witches so compelling. It reads like a Mills & Boon, but… good.

Imagine a Mills & Boon novel where the characters are all established, there’s a supporting cast with names, motivations and histories, an actual plot outside of “will they have sex, and not go to jail or die?” — and it’s much, much longer. I’m troubling over what makes it so Mills-ish, and basically it’s very grownup. Not “adult”, or “mature”, but: the heroine-protagonist wears fleeces (in a novel with witch-vampire sex, how dare you) and trainers and goes rowing in the early mornings, and the 300 year old vampire hero love interest has a favourite cafe, owns a yoga mat, and wears, I haven’t read it for a while, but probably chinos. What’s a chino? Something Giles from Buffy wasn’t preppy enough to wear. It’s all very un-luxe, and with witches and vampires and other magical human-alikes and alchemy and fate and destiny and prophecies and long scenes of finger-banging in French castles — that’s quite remarkable.I have a favourite character, and it’s the love interest’s mother. His mother! What’s a mother-in-law doing in a sexy witch book??

But speaking of mothers, the heroine has three. The one who birthed and began to raise her, before being mysteriously (ritualistically? Trilogy plot slow-burn!) murdered along with her husband. But then this first mother’s sister, the heroine’s aunt, raised our girl to adulthood with the help of her woman life-partner. Domestic lesbian witches in New England? Beloved by their community? That’s got to be a comforter to many readers.

Anyway. I’m yet to find the second book, and I haven’t looked too hard, but I’ll surely pick it up if I see it.

If you like: the thought of Academic Oxford, yoga pants, biscuit selection boxes, archery (magical)

517kmw9WL6LDaughter of Smoke and Bone

plus continuing series’ titles: Days of Blood and Starlight, Dreams of Gods and Monsters

Laini Taylor

Hachette Book Group Sep 2011

I’ve written two essays about this book that nobody will ever read, because I was so! Excited!! after thinking all the thoughts it made me think. Daughter of Smoke and Bone, so good I had to wordvomit.

If Discovery of Witches is for the sensible woman with battened down hatches, Daughter is for the dream-horny teenager desperate to save up enough self-direction to live her desires. This book is MAXIMUM boheme aspiration; if you have any qualms about presenting a romanticised Prague you should leave it on the shelf.

Karou is an art student at an art school so perfect I’m not even jealous, and she was raised by somebody magical enough that she’s rewarded for good behaviour with solid, physical wishes. Hold one, make the wish, the object vanishes and the wish comes true. Karou’s hair grows in blue, and nobody believes her when she tells them that she wished it so. Karou goes on errands for her foster father; around the world via magical doors, buying teeth for a purpose she’s kept ignorant of. Karou has an ex-boyfriend and every scene with this beautiful douchebag is a finely tuned masterclass in glorious agony.

The new boyfriend is the real deal, though. He’s got wings, baby! And tattooed fingers. He tries to kill her once in the course of his duties (where did he come from? Which duties?) but, you know, he apologises.

If you like your star-crossed lovers to have political perspective, if you ever thought it might be nice to watch the sun come up from the roof of a Cathedral, if you want a heroine who sparkles but is flawed, knows it, apologises, and hangs on to her best friend because she matters to her as a person… Boom. Laini Taylor’s on a UK signing tour for the last entry in this trilogy currently; catch her if you can.

If you like: Saga, YA fiction, the art direction of Baz Luhrman’s Moulin Rouge

Poison Princess Arcana Chronicles book one Kresley Cole Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, reprint Jul 2013Poison Princess

Arcana Chronicles book one

Kresley Cole

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, reprint Jul 2013

First up, the love interest here is a hot Cajun. Gambit fans, wail no more.

Did you ever spend time with a crush you’re too nervous to touch? Our heroine is stuck relying on hers for survival after the apocalypse hits. Hard to deal with. Then the motorcycle-based accidental dick-touch happens! Woo!

This is the first in a series of Tarot-based post-apocalyptic “teens with powers battle to save the future”novels, and I am 300% more down with it than I expected from the cover. I’ll be honest: I bought it because the cover was so bad (job done, I suppose). The Major Arcana each have their avatar walking the earth after some sort of disaster has turned America into a wasteland, and if you’re big into Tarot this might cause you some discomfort because the interpretations of the card-children’s powers are pretty literalistic. Protagonist Evie, for example, is the Empress, and she has the power to make plants do her bidding. There’s some toying with Reversed readings, in Evie’s memory-dreams of an evil predecessor (…or is she), but turning Tarot cards into X-Men is a dicey project.

I’m so into the book I don’t even care. The world pre-disaster is established solidly; Evie’s popular at school, her boyfriend wants to have sex, she doesn’t but she can’t admit that her feelings are valid, thinks she should bargain with him about it, won’t admit that if she DID have sex it would totally be with the new motorcycle punk in school, doesn’t understand why this new boy reacts so badly to her sniffy attitude — and all this while dealing with some severe mental health problems.

Even before the world ends Evie and Jack Deveaux are making baby steps towards understanding how to navigate the intersectional privileges and disempowerments they’re making eyes at each other across. There’s a massive class divide and continuing economic differences between their families that put him at a disadvantage, and he’s got all of the “strong, powerful man” traits that she’s had programmed out of her by her white-blonde-rich-nice-girl socialisation.

And theeeeen the apocalypse happens.

If you like: Tarot cards as a fixed motif, The Tribe, Remy LeBeau

The End of Mr Y Scarlett Thomas Canongate Books, Jun 2008The End of Mr Y

Scarlett Thomas

Canongate Books, Jun 2008

Three out of five of these lean heavily on alchemy. Alchemy’s pretty sexy though, right? Mixing fluids, chemical changes. I’m improvising, it’s just something I noticed now.

The End of Mr Y is not a book likely to be marketed as supernatural romance, but that is because the publishing industry has many shortcomings. The protagonist discovers a book that describes how to perform a magic, she buys the herbs and essences necessary, she does the magic. She communicates with an animal. She visits the minds of other humans. She visits her own mind. She meets a man, they shouldn’t have sex, but they do. There’s also another man and some other sex. I can’t describe this book, it’s too impeccable.

If you’ve ever enjoyed being bored and alone, in real life, then you will understand this book and it will understand you.

(It is not a boring book)

If you like: drinking alone, stained glass, uncomfortable memories

Bonus round! Genre scramble!

Tallulah Rising The Last Werewolf trilogy, book two  Glen Duncan Canongate Books, reprint Feb 2014Sexy Werewolf Novel: Tallula Rising

The Last Werewolf trilogy, book two

Glen Duncan

Canongate Books, reprint Feb 2014

This book is BRUTAL. The protagonist is a coward, but at least she isn’t a hypocrite. I had nightmares.

If you like: Werewolves, duh

Keeping It Real  Quantum Gravity series, book one  Justina Robson  London: Gollancz, 2006Sexy Cyborg Novel: Keeping It Real

Quantum Gravity series, book one

Justina Robson

London: Gollancz, 2006

What If Cool People Are Secretly Rubbish At Making Friends? Plus: a cyborg has sex with hot elves.

If you like: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Ghost in the Shell, World of Warcraft probably, glam rock
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About Author

The rock that drops on your head. WWAC Features & Opinions Ed. Find me at claire.napier@wwacomics.com

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