Anyone that has known me for awhile knows that the only thing I find more interesting than magic is the people who practice it. Therefore, the graphic novel, “Witches of World War II” by Paul Cornell with art by Valeria Burzo was too juicy to pass up. Although a work of fiction, Cornell shows some genuine occult nerd bona fide with his creative use of actual history and well-established magical lore to tell the tale of the greatest magicians of the era coming together to battle Nazi Germany. Shall I introduce you to our colorful cast of character?
The leader of the team is Doreen Valiente, who is best known today as one of the founders and shapers of Wicca. Valiente lost her husband in the war, and although has never officially been found to have served in the war effort, she did spend extended periods away from her family during the war and never spoke about what happened. Next is Gerald Gardner, founder of Gardnerian Wicca. Gardner was an ARP Warden during the war and with his New Forest Coven facilitated the famous “Operation Cone of Power” to keep Britain from being invaded. Another magic practitioner known to have undertaken magical workings to help Britain during the war was Dion Fortune, a well-known British occultist and one of the founders of The Fraternity of the Inner Light. Her letter writing efforts of magical operations undertaken during the war have been cataloged into the book “The Magical Battle of Britain”, a book that drifts in and out of print. Aleister Crowley certainly needs no introduction as he founded Thelema with its assorted organizations and had a penchant for publicity. There is much lore, and some fact, around the idea that Crowley aided Britain during the war, whether in an official capacity or not is up for debate. It is true he corresponded with Rudolf Hess, a Nazi big wig with an interest in the occult. Last is Rollo Ahmed, he wrote about magic as well as his experiences being a black man in Britain.
Cornell takes this band of magic makers on a fantastical wartime journey filled with intrigue, heroics, a cameo from Winston Churchill, and Valiente punching a Nazi. Along the way you see magic and scams, learning that the line between magician and conman can at times be thin, and that both can be effective in times of war. Burzo’s artistic style worked well with the story and did an excellent job rendering these characters.
I cannot stress enough how much I enjoyed “Witches of World War II.” It appealed to my occult nerd tendencies, my love of reimaging history, and adventure. Do yourself a favor and get yourself a copy asap!
You can preorder your copy here! (This is an affiliate link to my Bookshop, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.)
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