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Reflections on the #AtoZChallenge

by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I discussed different book genres/categories. Each day, I gave a few details about the genre/catego...

April 17, 2024

O is for Occult Fiction #AtoZChallenge

by Donna Huber

#AtoZChallenge 2024 letter O

For the A to Z Challenge, I'm discussing different book genres/categories. Each day, I will give a few details about the genre/category and an example or two. I would love to know your thoughts on the genre/category and if you have any reading suggestions. Be sure to check out all of my A to Z posts.

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According to the Book Genre Dictionary, occult fiction "touch[es] on the adversary of good, the enemies of the forces of righteousness as expressed in religious philosophy." These stories often feature demons, witchcraft, sorcery, voodoo, and necromancy. The central theme of occult fiction is good vs. evil. 

Often occult fiction is considered horror, but in my search on occult fiction, I ran across occult detective fiction which, according to Wikipedia, is a subgenre of detective fiction and combines elements of horror, fantasy, and/or supernatural.

Since I don't read horror, I tend to stay away from occult fiction. Though at the Book Genre Dictionary, they listed Harry Potter as an example of occult fiction and I did read that series. If we consider the central theme of occult fiction to be a story about good vs. evil using supernatural elements then it doesn't necessarily have to be horror. The Left Behind series could be considered occult fiction.

On Goodreads' list of Best Occult Fiction, you will find Good Omens by Terry Pratchett, Dr. Faustus by Christopher Marlowe, Dracula by Bram Stoker, Paradise Lost by John Milton, The Screwtape Letters by C.S Lewis, The Sandman by Neil Gaiman, and The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain among others.

From this list you can see that occult fiction has been around for a long time. Dr Faustus was published in 1588.

Today's featured example of occult fiction is a book I read and enjoyed. It is not horror. I considered it to be more of a paranormal women's fiction story.

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna 

book cover of occult fiction novel The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witched by Sangu Mandanna

As one of the few witches in Britain, Mika Moon knows she has to hide her magic, keep her head down, and stay away from other witches so their powers don't mingle and draw attention. And as an orphan who lost her parents at a young age and was raised by strangers, she's used to being alone and she follows the rules...with one exception: an online account, where she posts videos pretending to be a witch. She thinks no one will take it seriously.

But someone does. An unexpected message arrives, begging her to travel to the remote and mysterious Nowhere House to teach three young witches how to control their magic. It breaks all of the rules, but Mika goes anyway, and is immediately tangled up in the lives and secrets of not only her three charges, but also an absent archaeologist, a retired actor, two long-suffering caretakers, and...Jamie. The handsome and prickly librarian of Nowhere House would do anything to protect the children, and as far as he's concerned, a stranger like Mika is a threat. An irritatingly appealing threat.

As Mika begins to find her place at Nowhere House, the thought of belonging somewhere begins to feel like a real possibility. But magic isn't the only danger in the world, and when a threat comes knocking at their door, Mika will need to decide whether to risk everything to protect a found family she didn't know she was looking for...

Read my review.

Do you read occult fiction? Are you like me and thought occult fiction was just horror novels? 

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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  1. I much prefer the term 'supernatural' to 'occult' because the latter connotes evil. Supernatural or paranormal are words which are much less weighed down with negativity imo

    1. I see that but I also think the term Occult gives weight to battle between good and evil which is central to the genre. In supernatural or paranormal books, the central plot of the novel isn't the good vs. evil. There may be elements of good vs. evil but there are other things like romance or discovering/excepting who you are that are more central to the story.

  2. To me, occult isn't a fiction genre. It is related to the life of Aleister Crowley and the like. Creepy. It is difficult to differentiate some sub-genres from others.

  3. I think a lot of the time I prefer reading occult fiction as it has this heavy undercurrent of good vs evil, no matter what kind of magic who is wielding. I've added your book recommendation to my TBR :-)

    Ronel visiting for O: My Languishing TBR: O
    Treacherous Obayifo