13 Books to Read Now That 'American Horror Story: Coven' Has a New Supreme
Ryan Murphy's American Horror Story is known for playing off Western anxieties: Serial killers, vengeful ghosts, insane asylums, and, most recently—witches—creep across this anthology television series. While poppier than past seasons, Coven still dealt with terrible themes of oppression, torture, resurrection, and betrayal.
Now that this season has ended with Miss Robichaux’s Academy wide open to witches of all sorts—and a new Supreme in place—it’s time to say goodbye to Misty Day, Queenie, Zoe, and the rest of the witchy cast. But...if you are already missing the chaos caused by everyone’s favorite coven in New Orleans, here are 13 book recommendations to feed your love for witchcraft, voodoo, and backstabbing drama.
American Horror Story loves to blend urban legend and local history into a fantastical representation. Want to learn more about the history behind Madame LaLaurie's reprehensible acts? Check out this paranormal road map to all things voodoo and vampire in New Orleans.
Best known for her take on everything vampire, The Witching Hour is the first novel in Rice's series Lives of the Mayfair Witches. If the soap opera element of Coven is what you'll miss the most, dive into this dynasty of New Orleans witches, who will engross you with their family drama.
If you came into Coven missing the extreme horror of American Horror Story: Asylum, then Exquisite Corpse is for you. Not for the light-hearted, this grotesque book set in New Orleans reads like Jeffrey Dahmer's diary: a psychosexual nightmare filled with serial killers and cannibals.
While set in a sister city of equal reputation, this non-fiction work—simply referred to as "The Book" in Savannah—shares similar Southern Gothic themes with its murder plots, kooky cast of characters, and hoodoo ceremonies unfolding in dark cemeteries.
Actress, storyteller, and priestess Luisah Teish dramatically recreates centuries-old African-American traditions in this literary soup of music, memoir, and folk wisdom. If you want to learn about the real New Orleans within which Teish grew up during the 1950s, step into this tome of history and women's spirituality. What went on behind the closed doors of Marie Laveau's house? Read more for all things Yoruban tradition and New Orleans voodoo.
If you're missing the angsty teen flirtations between Zoe and Kyle, Beautiful Creatures is the YA novel for you. Average high schooler Ethan Wate and witchy Lena Duchannes create the perfect supernatural romance to fill the hole in your heart. Set in the fictional Gatlin, South Carolina, Beautiful Creatures has all the witches, Civil War reenactments, and delicious teen drama that you could ever ask for.
Witches have radically changed and evolved over the centuries through the power of storytelling. Go back to the beginning in this exclusive (and free!) Zola Books edition and relive your childhood fears unfolding through famous tales like Hansel and Gretel, Briar Rose, and Snow White.
Vials of tears, curses of eternal life, makeup made of blood—Coven spent its entire season dabbling in the magic of youth and life everlasting. While more pre-Tolkien English fantasy than anything contemporary, Stardust is a wonderful tale of wanderlust—chock-full of power-hungry villains. Read along as The Lilim (three fairytale hags) chase after a fallen star (to eat her heart and regain beauty!) as she hastily tries to travel back to the sky from which she fell.
If other fantasy worlds are of your craving, come to Discworld, inspired by and constantly satirizing an entire canon of mythology, fairy tales, and folklore. Equal Rites is the first novel that introduces Granny Weatherwax, one of Pratchett's most beloved characters—and a prominent witch in the Lancre coven. Follow Granny as she leads the first-ever female wizard to the all-male Unseen University to seek enrollment. One of Pratchett's most entertaining tours-de-force, it flips fantasy tropes around and makes us question our own notions of gender.
Can't get enough of Coven's murder plots and witch hunters? Enter 1950s Paris: full of young love, espionage, flea circuses, and, above all else—a chorus of dazzling spell-casters. As a bonus, check out our Q&A with Toby Barlow, in which he talks advertising and the perceived spaces between "literary fiction" and "genre fiction."
The Magicians follows antisocial teenage magicians as they leave their real world and enter the college of Brakebills University (and beyond). Containing both Narnian parody and a world constructed inside a canon all its own, The Magicians explores what it actually means to possess magical powers in the real world.
If you are looking for the school-of-witches angle but want to read YA, check out this title by Diana Wynne Jones, one of Britain's most beloved authors. This third book in her famed Chrestomanci series begins in an alternate history England where witchcraft is illegal and punishable by the stake. (Reading of the other two books is not required, but helps to understand Jones' multi-universe twists and surprise endings.) At one school, where things are seemingly normal—a note appears: "Someone in this class is a witch."
Coven tackles racial tensions head-on as a war between a sisterhood of primarily-white witches and clan of voodoo priestesses (led by the notorious Marie Laveau) breaks out. Similar themes are explored in Oyeyemi's haunting novel, where fragile family dynamics, mental illness, sexuality, and racial prejudice startle inside beautiful, lyrical prose.
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