Sunday, November 21, 2021

Review: THE NATURE OF WITCHES by Rachel Griffin


Rating: 3.75/5 stars

This contemporary standalone YA fantasy is perfect for nature lovers and those who appreciate beautifully written atmospheric stories. 

In this book, witches get their powers from the sun. There are witches for every season: spring, summer, autumn, and winter, depending on when they were born. But there is also a fifth kind of witch that has power during all the seasons: an Everwitch. Clara is a rare Everwitch, the first in a century, and as such, her magic and her personality change with each season. Because she has so much power, she is expected to fix the climate problems and accomplish what no other witch is able to. But Clara doesn’t want the responsibility that comes with being an Everwitch, or any witch for that matter, and instead wishes she were a normal person without any magic. 

The Nature of Witches follows a little more than a year in Clara’s life as she studies magic and strengthens her abilities as a witch, trying to decide what path her future will take, and facing climate problems along the way. The atmosphere is becoming unstable as the climate issues worsen, and Clara is hesitant to exert her powers to help calm the abnormalities ever since her powers caused a fatal accident a few years prior. This accident is also the reason she doesn’t get close to anyone anymore—she doesn’t want to hurt anyone else she cares about. But the bond she forms with her new mentor is more than she expected. 

“Realizing you love someone is like noticing you have a sunburn—you don’t know exactly when it happened, just that you were too exposed for too long.”

I thought this book was beautifully written. There were many passages I reread a few times then proceeded to write down because I didn’t want to forget them. This book is beautiful all around because just look at that cover, and then know it has an even more stunning naked hardcover under the dust jacket. 

I was a little worried in the beginning because Clara makes some dumb decisions that were only included to further the plot (I’m specifically referencing how she meets Sang, the love interest). There was also some inconsistent characterization as Clara spends a lot of time refusing to use her powers to their limit during training exercises, but then she goes out of her way to do just that when necessity strikes, and I didn’t understand what caused her change in mindset. I attributed a lot of the book’s flaws to the fact that The Nature of Witches is YA and as such is full of many common YA tropes. Eventually, I put that aside and started to enjoy the story for what it was: a soft and hopeful nature-based fantasy about a witch learning to love herself for who she is. 

This book has a heavy focus on protecting our environment and on stopping climate change. All of the witches here are nature witches, being able to affect the earth and the sky. They can make plants grow, manipulate the clouds, form lightning, etc., and I really enjoyed that aspect. I feel like a lot of witchy books I read are about a darker type of witch, but the witches here are all ones who get power from the sun and are in tune with the earth, which I think I prefer. 

There are epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter that I really loved. They each are a lesson of sorts, a piece of wisdom that Clara learns in that chapter, and I thought that was clever. She has a strong character arc throughout the story so it was nice to see her slowly growing and developing and learning to accept her powers over time. 

“Maybe that’s all anyone really wants: to be seen by another person, to be validated even when we work so hard to hide certain parts of ourselves. Maybe especially then.” 

The Nature of Witches is a quick read. It’s not perfect by any means but I still had a good time reading it. Some of the plot progression happened a little too conveniently and felt too forced for my taste, and the ending focused only on Clara’s growth and didn’t mention anything about the future of the atmospheric abnormalities, which I would have liked to know more about. I also think the story could have used some more concrete character building and magical descriptions as a lot of information about character motivations and abilities had to be inferred. But overall the book was well-written and fun and I would recommend it. 

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