In 2017, Sirens examined those who work magic—witches, sorceresses, enchantresses, and more—with Guests of Honor Zoraida Córdova, N.K. Jemisin, and Victoria Schwab (and in our 2018 reunion year, Guest of Honor Leigh Bardugo represented magic workers). While the foundation of our 2017 theme was witches—and how, even in the wholly new worlds of speculative spaces, the word “witch” is still a slur—we sought all examples of magic-working in fantasy literature by women, nonbinary, and trans folks, and focused on how magic in speculative spaces is so often an analog for power.
In 2017, we suggested a number of books that portrayed this wide variety of magic workers. For Sirens at Home, though, we want to feature 10 books that we think have something to say about magic and power, especially across axes of oppression. Here are those books, as well as their opening words—and we’ve included links to those works at Bookshop in the titles. Bookshop supports both Sirens and independent bookstores, so if you’re looking to purchase any of these titles, they’re a great option!
1. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
|“Kell wore a very peculiar coat. It had neither one side, which would be conventional, nor two, which would be unexpected, but several, which was, of course, impossible.”
2. Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
|“The second time I saw my dead aunt Rosaria, she was dancing. Earlier that day, my mom had warned me, pressing a long, red fingernail on the tip of my nose, ‘Alejandra, don’t go downstairs when the Circle arrives.’ But I was seven and asked too many questions.”
3. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
|“Joost had two problems: the moon and his mustache. He was supposed to be making his rounds at the Hoede house, but for the last fifteen minutes, he’d been hovering around the southeast wall of the gardens, trying to think of something clever and romantic to say to Anya.”
4. Snapdragon by Kat Leyh
|“Our town has a witch. She fed her eye to the devil. She eats roadkill, and she casts spells with the bones. That’s the kind of bull the dumb kids at school say. Witches ain’t real. She’s just an old loony. But…they also say she eats pets.”
5. Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Möira Fowley-Doyle
|“Daylight is only just touching the tips of the trees when the bonfire goes out. I am leaning against a bale of hay upon which someone I don’t know is sleeping.”
6. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
|“Let’s start with the end of the world, why don’t we? Get it over with and move on to more interesting things.”
7. The Lost Coast by Amy Rose Capetta
|“The first time I saw a redwood, I had a brand-new feeling—like discovering a color you’ve never seen before, or smelling snow for the first time if you were raised in a world without cold. Mom and I were driving up Highway 101 in a mostly good mood. We’d called Dad from the airport, and he hadn’t sounded tragic, even though I knew he missed me. And I’d seen a dozen rainbow flags between San Francisco and this stretch of wildness. Every single one felt like a welcome sign.”
8. The Memory Trees by Kali Wallace
|“Beyond the window, the morning was bright and glittering, the sky a breathless blue, and the hotels on Miami Beach jutted like broken teeth across the water, but all Sorrow could see was the orchard. There were trees whispering behind the walls of the office, and she almost believed if she turned—if she was quick—she would glimpse their sturdy thick trunks and rustling dead leaves from the corner of her eye.”
9. The Queer Witch Comics Anthology edited by Joamette Gil
|“We banished darkness outside the walls.
Inside our walls, the people followed Așa and worshipped light.
‘Where there is light, there is growth.’
‘Where there is light, there is truth.’
As future Așa, I was eager to learn.
Especially from her.”
10. We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry
|“Two minutes into the second half, Masco’s #19 took an indirect shot on our goal. For a moment we lost sight of the ball in the scrum of players huddled in front of the net, the air blurry with sticks as if a hundred defenders were trying to clear it and a hundred others were trying to score. Considering how the first half went down, there really wasn’t any reason for those of us on offense to keep watching, our defense porous as a broken window. True, our opponents, the Masconomet Chieftains, hadn’t officially put it in the net, but it was a foregone conclusion, the ball already as good as in, another Masco goal adorning the scoreboard. Girl Cory turned and started the humiliating trek back to midfield. A few of us began to follow.”
For more information about our 2017 conference, including the programming presented that year, please see our 2017 archive page.