‘These Witches Don’t Burn’ by Isabel Sterling is the Queer Content We Need in 2019

In an effort to build a space for queer people like myself, every Tuesday I’ll be posting opinion pieces, listicals, reviews, and more focused on the LGBT community (and occasionally about the Latinx/WOC community since I am Latinx.) Welcome to Queerly Not Straight! And for the month of June we’ll be posting an EXTRA dose of LGBTQ+ goodness on Thursdays!

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling, a tale of witches, friendships, and second loves, is living proof that including LGBTQ+ people in our stories isn’t a hardship. For too long we’ve been told that our stories as queer people are too complicated. Our stories have “too many letters”; looking at you LGBTQ+. Our stories expose kids to unnecessary elements “that they should only be exposed to when they’re grown up.” Our stories just take so much effort. Our stories aren’t what people want to see or read about. It’s been lie after lie to make us sit back and be patient.

Sterling has no time for that nonsense and is absolutely done with anyone telling her what she can and can’t include in a human story. Because that’s what these women/characters are at the end of the day; despite the witchcraft goodness that is at the center of These Witches Don’t Burn. It doesn’t matter if they like kissing girls, are married with a kid, or live a trans proud life. They are humans looking for love, laughter, and companionship in the midst of everything else they are experiencing while living on Earth. And it blows my mind and makes me feel so grateful that Sterling is showing us that in These Witches Don’t Burn.

This normalization of queer lives like mine made me fall in love with this book more than I expected. Seriously, the little rough spots that I experienced here and there (and which we all experience in any book we read), I braved them because I loved the work that Sterling was doing in These Witches Don’t Burn. I trusted her. And that right there can be so dangerous when reading anything. But I’m glad I gave my trust to her because Sterling told a story full of family, hope, love, and magic.

Most importantly, These Witches Don’t Burn made me feel seen. I felt it in the way our female lead fell for another woman after the disaster that was her breakup with her ex. I felt it in the way our female lead cared for, wanted, and desired another. And I felt it in the way that our female leads family cared about her in the midst of witches, relationship drama, and possible witch hunters or Blood Witches out to get their daughter. That is why These Witches Don’t Burn is THE book you should pick up this Pride Month or summer to read and fall in love with just like I did. 

Trust me, you won’t regret it.


Isabel Sterling has been dreaming up new worlds since childhood, but she didn’t commit any of them to paper until graduate school. A Syracuse University alum, Isabel is the program coordinator at an LGBTQ Center, where she provides educational training’s and support groups for her community. When she’s not working, Isabel writes about magic and murder, looking for the smallest hints of the supernatural in this world, too. She lives in Central NY with her wife and their brood of furry children: cats Oliver and December and a beagle-mix named Lily. These Witches Don’t Burn is her debut novel.

These Witches Don’t Burn is available to purchase HERE.

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Queerly Not Straight posts every Tuesday (AND THURSDAYS FOR PRIDE MONTH) with opinion pieces, listicals, reviews, and more focused on the LGBT community (and occasionally about the Latinx community since I am Latinx.)

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