Fall is here, which means we’re just mere weeks away from the most wonderful time of the year: Spooky season. From 31 Days of Halloween on Freeform to scary movies at the multiplex and stories about ghosts and witches at the local bookstore, ’tis the season to embrace the things that freak us out a little bit. But sometimes those spooky things can turn out to be the very things we’re drawn to at the same time. Because let’s face it, we’re all drawn to darkness sometimes.
The Witch Haven, the debut novel from author Sasha Peyton Smith, hit shelves at the end of August, a surprising late summer delight that mixes a dark historical murder mystery with a feminist fantasy, adding a dash of romance and betrayal for spice before dropping everything in a magical boarding school full of young witches who are just discovering what it means to claim their own power. This book is really like nothing else on shelves right now, is what I’m saying.
The story follows seventeen-year-old Frances Hallowell, a sweatshop seamstress in early twentieth-century New York struggling to make ends meet after the death of her brother. But when her lecherous boss makes a pass at her, her inborn magic awakens and the evening ends with him dead, her sewing scissors in his neck.
Swept away to the mysterious Haxahaven Academy before she can be arrested for murder, Frances learns that she is a witch with a chance to rewrite her story. While there, her continuing investigation into her brother’s death introduces her to his Irish friend Finn, part of a mysterious magical gentleman’s club who offers to teach her forbidden magic. Because Finn has his own special abilities – he can enter the dreams of others – and access to the resources to learn much more.
Author Sasha Peyton Smith shares her 5 favorite spooky literary crushes
Dreamy and kind of dangerous? Of course, he’s the boy we’re rooting for to win Frances’ heart, even when maybe we shouldn’t be. But Smith is herself no stranger to loving dangerous, haunted boys, the sort of boys with dark secrets and tortured souls, the ones that maybe we should walk away from, but can’t quite manage it.
Keep reading for her five favorite spooky literary crushes and see if maybe you share a fave. (Spoiler alert: Yes, The Darkling is on this list.)