In this very idiosyncratic work, English novelist Sara Maitland and poet Wendy Mulford examine the lives and works of 45 women saints through the ages. However, the emphasis here is not upon virtues or moral perfections but upon magic — "their power to disrupt and explode traditional causal connections, accepted contexts and criteria." The authors have come up with a twofold response to each person: one section contains useful background information, commentary, texts, and references while the other probes the life of the women through poetry, story, sermon, or quotation.

The range of saints includes biblical women (Martha, Mary Magdalene, Lydia, etc.), visionaries (Joan of Arc, Hildegard of Bingen, Julian of Norwich), ethical activists (Clare of Assisi, Edith Stein, Quaker Mary Fisher), and unheralded souls (the nineteenth-century Protestant Saint Amanda Berry Smith, Christian feminist Josephine Butler, and Montanist prophetess Maximilla). Virtuous Magic is tailor-made for feminists with a broad interest in spirituality.