The Witch's Daughter: My Mother, Her Magic, and the Madness that Bound Us (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Orenda Fink tells the story of her upbringing in various rural areas of middle and north Alabama. The second daughter of three, Fink and her sisters grew up in a family tormented by generational trauma, mental health issues, and addiction. This story describes how she was affected by, dealt with, and ultimately survived childhood to blossom into an acclaimed indie musician and songwriter. Filled with fascinating information on borderline personality disorder and anecdotes to satisfy any indie music fan, I would recommend The Witch's Daughter to almost everyone I know. While I wouldn't call it a happy story, it is an inspiring story of choosing your family, overcoming impossible situations, and protecting your peace. — Tori, Snail Readers Circle


Acclaimed indie musician and songwriter Orenda Fink delivers a lyrical and moving memoir of a tumultuous childhood with a mother who battled mental illness and addiction.

From her perch on a kitchen stool each night, Orenda Fink’s darkly charismatic mother spins family lore and tells tales of the supernatural powers she wields, insisting that both she and Orenda are magic. By day, Orenda’s childhood is marked by instability and uncertainty. Her family moves from town to town, chasing a fresh start whenever the money runs out. Orenda’s mother insists that she is a witch, and magic is their means of protection from the world outside of their family. Orenda encounters her mother’s magic in all its forms: a crisp $20 bill materializes from nothing when money has run out and a bottle of congealed blood lurks in the closet for unspoken reasons.

When her mother’s substance abuse and controlling behavior crescendo, Orenda escapes to pursue a music career in Birmingham, Alabama, and then storied Athens, Georgia, forming bands Little Red Rocket and Azure Ray. She orbits the family home, always drawn back by her mother’s dark powers and her own need to solve the mystery of whether that claim of magic—or any magic—is real, or merely an expression of mental illness. Orenda’s journey takes her from churches in the American South—eager to exercise the demons out of her—to even more mysterious practitioners of country magic in the Southeast and beyond.

Finally seeking refuge in California’s high desert, Orenda works to knit together her divided worlds with the help of a Jungian psychotherapist. She is stunned to learn that her mother fits many of the criteria associated with borderline personality disorder, including a sub-type identified by famed thought leader Christine Ann Lawson, known as “The Witch”—an aggressive, dominating figure who operates by fear-driven control, sometimes claiming to wield magic.

Told in spellbinding prose, this memoir of music, self-discovery, and compassion is for anyone who has had to conjure a safe place to call home.

About the Author

Orenda Fink is a musician, songwriter, performer, and writer whose work has been profiled in by NPR, Pitchfork, and more. She has been writing, recording, and touring for critically acclaimed records since 1997. Orenda got her start in Birmingham, Alabama, with the pop rock group Little Red Rocket. In 2000, she formed the lauded ethereal folk duo Azure Ray with longtime friend Maria Taylor in Athens, Georgia. Azure Ray has cowritten with Moby and collaborated with Bright Eyes, Sparklehorse, and the Faint, among many others, with their music regularly featured in film and television programs. The Witch’s Daughter is her first book. She is originally from Alabama, and now resides in California’s Mojave Desert with her husband, Todd Fink of The Faint, and their dog, Grimm. The experiences described in this book prompted Orenda to become a certified Jungian Depth Coach with a specialization in shadow work and dream interpretation. Find out more at 

Praise For…

“A story of power, family, and struggle, [The Witch’s Daughter] is a captivating look at growing up in the shadow of a dominant, unstable parent…. With rich imagery, thoughtful reflections, and compelling prose, Fink’s memoir will resonate with readers of Tara Westover's Educated.”

“Riveting…Equal parts cutting and compassionate, this tale of hard-won peace will resonate with readers wrestling with their own complicated families.”
Publishers Weekly

“[A]n emotional memoir of [Fink’s] long struggle to wrest herself from her manipulative, destructive mother….A memorable book of raw, unvarnished recollections.”

“When you finish this book, you will turn around and give it to someone who needs it. This is a master text on surviving trauma as a child and an adult. I couldn’t put it down.”
—Phoebe Bridgers

“Orenda Fink's captivating memoir cascades with life and loss. Part detailed description of a gnarled family tree, part rock n' roll tell-all, part exorcism of the many demons that her and us can recognize in ourselves but do not understand. I have been a longtime admirer of her art and have been fortunate enough to call her a friend for many years. Still I had not known much of what is contained in this book.  We have all touched some kind of madness.  We have all cast our own sorry, desperate type of spells. This book is a testament to those things which make us scared and brave and magically human all at once.”
—Conor Oberst

“’The past is never dead and not even past,’ the great Southern novelist William Faulkner wrote. In her evocative, elegant memoir, the great Southern songwriter and performer Orenda Fink is like a descendant of one of his characters transported to our time, surviving terrible circumstances and finally thriving.”
—Anne Kreamer, author of Going Gray

“Orenda Fink’s memoir is un-put-downable—it is a lyrical, compassionate, and complicated telling of the impacts of mental health and antagonism on multiple generations of a family. She brings a realistic and compelling lens to the confusing terrain of guilt, duty, grief, attachment, shame, and love that family members must navigate in these circumstances. It will validate the experience of so many survivors of these family systems.”
—Dr. Ramani Durvasula, New York Times Bestselling Author of It’s Not You: Identifying and Healing from Narcissistic People, clinical psychologist, and professor emerita of psychology, California State University, Los Angeles

“A memoir of great generosity—to herself, to her mother, to all mothers, to her friends and fans, to everyone who reads it.  You don’t have to know Orenda or her music in order to recognize a version of your own life inside of her own.  Plus all the juicy music-scene gossip.  I couldn’t put it down.”
—Alexander Payne

“Every paragraph of The Witch’s Daughter shimmers with a hauntingly precise perspective, and the spirit of the book is a delight, a wonder, even as it addresses turmoil, sadness, heartbreak. This is a riveting book about defiance. As Orenda seeks explanation for her mother's twisted magic and vindictive spells, she finds wisdom and serenity and music. The minute I finished the book, I wanted to start right over at the beginning.”
—Timothy Schaffert, author of The Perfume Thief, The Titanic Survivors Book Club

“Orenda Fink’s band Azure Ray may have been deemed ‘whispercore,’ but The Witch’s Daughter builds to a howling, feral scream. Tracing her hand-to-mouth itinerant childhood through years of enduring a narcissistic abuser, Fink renders the surreal horror of life with her mother so potently, the reader yearns for each escape: She enters a collapsing world of major labels, becomes an indie star, and finds solitude in the desert. Her odyssey is intertwined with famous cameos, mounting tragedy, unraveling familial lies, and urgent questions: Is the difference between the spiritual and the scientific primarily semantic? And how can we unweave our abusers’ threads from the fabric of ourselves?”
—Chris Harding Thornton, author of Pickard County Atlas

Product Details
ISBN: 9781668047460
ISBN-10: 1668047462
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: August 6th, 2024
Pages: 304
Language: English