Haven’t we met before?
Yeah, we have. I’d recognize that wild tangle of hair and quirky disposition anywhere.
Why are you shaking your head?
No, no. We’ve definitely met before. In fact, I can prove it.
You’re a witch, right? Ah, see, you paused. You are a witch.
No, that’s not an accusation, but don’t look so surprised. It’s one of the first things I learned about you.
Anyway, I remember you say these odd phrases that sound just a little off, like… <Snapping my fingers, I try to remember.> Oh bat wings or flying broomstick. I can’t remember the exact phrase, but it’s some twisted cliché. What else do I remember? <I tap my chin. > You’re powerful, but you have trouble with your craft sometimes so much so that the local authorities or magical government trouble you often. And you just solved another crime—a murder or conspiracy, right?
What?! No! I’m not a stalker. It’s just that, well, you witches are all alike.
Yeah, yeah. You claim every paranormal species has its areas of comfort that I call stereotypes. The werewolves—or shifters as they’re now known—are lovers; in most novels, they have three goals: claiming their mates, protecting their packs, or fighting over territory. Whereas vampires and elves tend to cause the problems. They seek political power and sometimes world domination.
Still, witches–no supernatural character is more stereotypical than the modern witch. They look alike, they talk alike, they work alike. They have the same hang-ups.
I’m not exaggerating. Ever since Hermione Granger flounced into the witching world, a novel’s lead witch (our protagonist) has had wild bushy hair (like Hermione) and brown or reddish-brown hair (like Hermione). Sure, Charli Goodwin of Southern Charms Cozy is a blonde, but her hair’s still bushy. Yet witches somehow appear like every girl, remaining average—neither tall nor short, neither attractive nor ugly, neither genius nor stupid. But every protagonist witch has underappreciated intelligence, unrivaled skills or powers, and an a-dork-able attitude that is neither abrasive nor off-putting.
I can’t blame Hermione though. Even before Granger influenced witchy appearance, witches fell into a common female stereotype: women’s work. Most witches cook or work around food. They work at a bakery or a coffee shop. A few witches garden as well, but only as a hobby as they grow herbs and brew special foods for their customers.
Yes, you’re right. Food and cooking have obvious connections to witchcraft. Cooking and witchcraft share that whole standing over a bubbling pot thing, but so does chemistry. Where’s the chemist or botanist witch? How about a zoologist or veterinarian witch since most witches have familiars? (Wouldn’t gathering eye of newt or tongue of toad be easier if a witch worked with animals? Or better yet, why aren’t witches environmentalists, geologists, even weather people who are in tune with nature? And I say “weather people”, but let’s face it, if a witch is a protagonist, then it’s a she, not a he. That’s a stereotype for another time.)
Yes, some witches evade this stereotype. Rachel Morgan (of The Hollows series) is a bounty hunter, and Ivy Wilde (of The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Magic series) is a taxi driver. But it’s a rare witch who earns her living without a stove nearby.
Fine, fine. Deny the cooking career stereotype if you must, but you can’t deny the most consistent stereotype among witches is their distrust of police. I suspect this distrust, quite reasonably, hails from the Salem Witch Trials and the various Inquisitions. Witches have become society’s problem solvers since if a witch is in the story, then she’s valiantly trying to solve a mystery—a murder, a conspiracy, or some other crime—because they don’t trust the police to handle it.
Witches make their distrust seem so reasonable. You need to help your friend or relative because the police suspect the wrong person. But, Katie of Magical Bakery Mysteries, the investigation began yesterday. Can’t the police have a day or two to gather some information or evidence? Besides, the police chief is a trusted friend, Katie, or your brother, Charli (of Southern Charms Cozy Mystery series). The police department could be corrupt, but can’t you trust your friends and family to investigate a situation thoroughly before they convict the wrong person?
I get it. The police can be corrupt like Cincinnati’s Inderlander Runner Service (The Hollows series). If given an hour, those vampires will have the suspect handcuffed, railroaded, and six floors underground in a magic-proof jail cell. So if a witch wants to help a friend out, she may need roll up her sleeves and pull out the truth potions or transformation spells.
But that doesn’t change the sad facts: if you’ve read one witch, you’ve read them all. . . sorry Rachel and Ivy. I love you guys.