Toil and Trouble: A Women's History of the Occult (Hardcover)

Toil and Trouble: A Women's History of the Occult By Lisa Kröger, Melanie R. Anderson Cover Image

Toil and Trouble: A Women's History of the Occult (Hardcover)


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​​A celebration of magical women and nonbinary people in American history, from Salem to WitchTok.

Meet the mystical women and nonbinary people from US history who found strength through the supernatural—and those who are still forging the way today. From the celebrity spirit mediums of the nineteenth century to contemporary activist witches hexing the patriarchy, these icons have long used magic and mysticism to seize the power they’re so often denied.

Organized around different approaches women in particular have taken to the occult over the decades—using the supernatural for political gain, seeking fame and fortune as spiritual practitioners, embracing their witchy identities, and more—this book shines a light on underappreciated magical pioneers, including:

Dion Fortune, who tried to marshal a magical army against Adolf Hitler
Bri Luna, the Hoodwitch, social media star and serious magical practitioner
Joan Quigley, personal psychic to Nancy Reagan
Marie Laveau, voodoo queen of New Orleans
Elvira, queer goth sex symbol who defied the Satanic Panic
✦ And many more!
Lisa Kröger is the coauthor of the Bram Stoker and Locus Award winning Monster, She Wrote. She holds a PhD in English and her short fiction has appeared in Cemetery Dance magazine and Lost Highways: Dark Fictions from the Road (Crystal Lake Publishing, 2018). She cohosts the Know Fear podcast (

Melanie R. Anderson is the coauthor of the Bram Stoker and Locus Award winning Monster, She Wrote. She is an assistant professor of English at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi. Her book Spectrality in the Novels of Toni Morrison (Tennessee Press, 2013) was a winner of the 2014 South Central MLA Book Prize. She cohosts the Know Fear podcast (
Product Details ISBN: 9781683692911
ISBN-10: 1683692918
Publisher: Quirk Books
Publication Date: October 25th, 2022
Pages: 336
Language: English
A The Mary Sue Book Club Pick

“A charming book full of fascinating historical figures.”—BoingBoing

“A rich collection of short biographies of women and nonbinary people who were involved with an influence in the occult.”—The Feminist Book Club

“A fascinating and at times infuriating look at the ways in which women have gained power through the occult, been persecuted by it, and forged relationships with one another through it.”—GeekMom

“Anyone who has dabbled in the craft by way of #witchtok will deepen their knowledge immensely by reading this book. And with a final chapter titled “100% That Witch,” you know you’re going to learn a lot and have some fun.”—BookPage

“Does an excellent job of exploring the cultural and racial differences concerning occult practices between women and nonbinary people”—Book Riot

“Reclaims and celebrates forgotten foremothers..enjoyable, re-readable references.”—Horror DNA

“A fun and informative read for anyone with an interest in women’s history, supernatural topics, or anyone who likes witchy romance and wants to go a little deeper into the world of witchy women.”—Smart Bitches Trashy Books

“A thorough and efficient study of those who have come before.”—Chapter 16