Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Review: WILD IS THE WITCH by Rachel Griffin


Rating: 3.75/5 stars

Wild Is the Witch was exactly what I needed right now. I wanted something light and fun, a soft fantasy that didn’t take too long getting used to. This contemporary fantasy romance novel is about Iris, a witch who has a strong connection with animals. She works at her mother’s animal refuge in the Pacific Northwest along with the college intern, Pike, who constantly gets on her nerves. The two of them must come together to go on a mission to rescue an endangered owl out in the forest. 

The Pacific Northwest setting was my absolute favorite aspect of this book. I used to live in the lush forests of western Washington, and this book really encapsulates the vibes and atmosphere of that area. I desperately missed my home while reading this book, and that might be part of the reason why I liked it so much. Almost the entire book is Iris and Pike hiking through the damp green woods of Washington while trying to find a missing owl that holds a secret that could change the world. I felt like I was there with them. 

I loved all the characters in this book. Our protagonist, Iris, has a special bond with a wolf named Winter. She’s so compassionate toward others and toward animals. She also experiences anxiety and panic attacks, and I appreciated that they were accurately represented. There were moments when her anxiety consumed her, and I felt that personally. Iris’s mom is super cool, fun, easygoing, and relatable. I liked her a lot too. Pike was a great love interest. The way he irritates Iris and gets on her nerves without ever being mean to her was so much fun to read about. Even the animals in this book had distinct personalities, too. 

Wild Is the Witch has lots of positive commentary about helping animals and helping the earth, and there’s no one better to do that than the witches. There are three kinds of witches: solar, whose magic is strongest toward animals; lunar, whose magic is strongest toward plants; and stellar, whose magic is strongest toward people. I thought it was very neat how Rachel Griffin created different kinds of witches in each of her books so far, although we really did not learn as much as I would have liked about the different kinds of witches in this book. 

While The Nature of Witches is more about the magic, Wild Is the Witch is more about the romance—it’s a hate-to-love romance that includes the “only one bed” trope. If you enjoyed Rachel’s debut novel, however, you likely will enjoy her sophomore novel as well. They have a very similar feel to them, and both are about a girl coming of age in the PNW while learning about her witch powers while simultaneously falling in love for the first time. I love her style and I look forward to reading her future books. 

I absolutely flew through this book and physically could not stop reading late into the night. It was very compelling. But the plot was also a little contrived. The mom lets her teenage daughter go off into the woods alone with a boy she doesn’t like to find an endangered owl without the help of any professionals or mature witches. The fate of Iris’s and Pike’s lives and the lives of many others rests with them finding this owl. 

This book is fun and comforting in the same way that Twilight is fun and comforting. I liked it. I liked the characters and the atmosphere and the story. Is it the best thing out there? No. But will I reread it? Yes. Sometimes you just need those light and fun fantasy books that aren’t too heavy with the magic and with the focus primarily on the romance and aren’t top quality but are still like candy, where you can’t stop eating them up, just one more chapter. That’s how I felt about this book. I had a fantastic time reading it; I really enjoyed it. But when I look at it objectively, I start to squint and tilt my head to the side and think, was it really as good as I thought it was? Probably not. And I think a lot of that has to do with the audience. It’s very hard for me to give out five stars to a young adult book these days because I have read so much more intricate and detailed plots and magic systems in adult novels that I just prefer. That doesn’t make YA any less valid, but my expectations have been skewed, and there are always plot devices used in YA books that I never see in adult books that I roll my eyes at and just have to ignore. For what this book was trying to do, it accomplished it. It was angsty and melodramatic and had high stakes without having any action, which I loved. Would it hold up to an adult fantasy? Not at all. But for young adult it was pretty good. I recommend it to those interested in witchy stories and romantic fantasy. I like Rachel Griffin’s writing and I will continue to read all the books she writes. 

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