I have always found witches fascinating. They have powers over nature, over the physical and metaphysical, communing with magics that can be both dark and light depending on the way they are used and the nature of the user. This is why I tend to write about witches in my paranormal novels. They are endlessly intriguing.
So, to celebrate the upcoming witchy Netflix series The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, are my top ten most intriguing witches in fiction, in no particular order.
Willow Rosenberg from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
A normal girl who finds she has a talent, a talent that goes awry when she suffers a loss and embraces her full dark self. It takes her best friend, Xander, to bring her back from the edge and then she struggles to find a way to come to terms with the good and the bad and the veiny inside her. A truly worthy witchy journey and played out so well by Alison Hannigan.
Agnieszka from Uprooted by Naomi Novik
An ignorant girl whose journey into knowledge of power and what she can do is as riveting as it is epic. The only disappointment about this witch and her story is that there was no follow up book.
Hermione Granger from The Harry Potter Series
Seemingly perfect, she shows herself to be something far more nuanced. Right from the start, she lived large on the page, far more powerful than Harry and Ron, and yet she uses her intelligence and her empathy to guide her powers to help Harry win the day. She makes mistakes, and despite her smarts, can be clueless, but if she didn’t have me before, she had me the moment she punched Draco Malfoy in the face. She is a witch for all young girls to look up to.
Morgan Le Fay from Merlin/King Arthur mythology
Whether painted as ultimate evil or a benevolent helper depending on which iteration of the myth you are reading, this witch is always fascinating in her depth of character and the way she lives by her own code. Often depicted as a victim, she never allows herself to be victimised.
Bonnie Bennett from The Vampire Diaries
She took me a while to warm up to, (a bit like Hermione Granger, a bit too goody-two-shoes and sweet and interested in always doing right), but then she showed that she was as capable of being bad as the other characters in the series. I like characters with duality – to be tested and to show a full understanding of the implications of holding such power and what it means. Bonnie stepped up and certainly had her dark moments.
Regina Mills from Once Upon A Time
Seemingly a true baddy, Regina (otherwise known as The Evil Queen from Snow White), has a backstory with depth and pathos that make it very difficult to shove her in the ‘she’s just evil’ basket. She battles herself as much as she battles those she wants revenge against, and the ultimate result is a character whose path to redemption is full of fantastical highs and horrible lows. She does so many things where you think – how can she come back from this? But somehow, in the end, she does.
The Poole witches from Penny Dreadful
The Poole witches represent the traditional ideal of duality – a face of beauty and a face of evil, with the evil taking point in their ultimate character arc. Their journey is memorable because it is set up against the ideas of insanity and sanity, of feminine hysteria against feminist strength mixed with the religious-bound fervour of a more powerful witch who is fighting a battle between the evil they represent and the good she wants to represent. They are a part of a greater question: is it the power that’s evil or the person behind it?
Adalind Schade from Grimm
Like the Poole Witches, Adalind has a face of beauty and a face of evil/ugliness of her Wesen self, the Hexenbiest, which shows whenever her power manifests. There is more to her than simple evil and she goes through a journey of losing her magic, regaining it and then questioning if her magic is good or bad and if it’s something she wants in her life. Despite this introspection, she doesn’t always choose well, which makes her a nuanced witch I can always watch with interest.
Sydney from Richelle Meade’s Bloodlines Series
Brought up to believe that magic is evil, her story is one of fighting her heritage and seeing beyond the black and white of the world she’s been brought up in, to embrace who she truly is. Hers is not a ‘chosen one’ story – which is what I like about it – but she does have to embrace her magical side to truly become who she is meant to be.
Skye, Bron, Shelley and Eloise from the Pack Bound Series
I will finish my 10 by cheekily adding my other favourite witches: Skye, Bron, Shelley and Eloise from my Pack Bound series. There are elements of them in the stories of the witches I’ve chosen on this list – tragedy, pathos, bad decisions, good decisions, and a never- ending questioning of what it means to have power and what one should do with it.
By Leisl Leighton
Leisl is a tall red head with an overly large imagination. As a child, she identified strongly with Anne of Green Gables. A voracious
reader and a born performer, it came as no surprise to anyone when she did a double major in English Literature and Drama for her
BA, then went on to a career as an actor, singer and dancer, as well as script writer, stage manager and musical director for cabaret
and theatre restaurants (one of which she co-owned and ran for six years).
After starting a family, Leisl stopped performing and instead, began writing the stories that had been plaguing her dreams. Leisl’s
stories have won and placed in many competitions in Australia and the US, including the STALI, Golden Opportunities, Heart of the
West, Linda Howard Award of Excellence, Touch of Magic and many others.
Leisl lives in the leafy suburbs of Melbourne with her two beautiful boys, lovely hubby, overly spunky dogs, Buffy and Skye, and
likes to spend time with family and friends. She is addicted to the Syfy channel, and her shelves are full of fantasy and paranormal
books and scifi DVDs. She sometimes sings in a choir, has worked as a swim teacher, loves to ski, can talk the hind leg off a
donkey and has been President of Romance Writers of Australia from 2014-2017.
Do you have a favourite pop-culture witch? Tell us in the comments below.