THE NATURE OF WITCHES, by Rachel Griffin, Sourcebooks Fire, June 1, 2021, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 14 and up)
A young witch holds the fate of the world in her hands in Rachel Griffin’s debut novel, The Nature of Witches.
For centuries, witches have maintained the climate, but now their control is faltering as the atmosphere becomes more erratic; the storms, more destructive. All hope lies with Clara, a once-in-a-generation Everwitch whose magic is tied to every season.
In Autumn, Clara wants nothing to do with her power. It’s wild and volatile, and the price of her magic — losing the ones she loves — is too high, despite the need to control the increasingly dangerous weather.
In Winter, the world is on the precipice of disaster. Fires burn, storms rage, and Clara accepts that she’s the only one who can make a difference.
In Spring, she falls for Sang, the witch training her. As her magic grows, so do her feelings, until she’s terrified Sang will be the next one she loses.
In Summer, Clara must choose between her power and her happiness, her duty and the people she loves… before she loses Sang, her magic, and thrusts the world into chaos. —Synopsis provided by Sourcebooks Fire
I never know what to think going into fantasy novels: Will the world make sense? Will I be able to relate to the characters? Will I care about the characters? Etc.
In the case of Rachel Griffin’s The Nature of Witches, the answer to all of the above is, yes.
The beauty of The Nature of Witches is that it’s almost a contemporary YA setting, only the main characters are witches that keep the climate in check. Each witch is born on an equinox or solstice and their powers are tied to that corresponding season.
Every witch, that is, except Clara, whose abilities change to match each season but never diminish. Clara’s the great hope. But she doesn’t want to be. As she faces new challenges, her fear practically drips off the page. It’s not until she discovers the root of her fears and embraces them that she is able to find the balance she so desperately seeks. This turmoil makes for a strong character study.
The Nature of Witches is divided into the seasons, and with each new section comes a new set of challenges. It’s a clever way of pacing the novel, allowing the action to ebb and flow just as weather does in real life. Griffin’s imagery is strong throughout, but excels when it comes to weather itself. Even small moments where leaves encircle someone shine bright.
I wasn’t completely blown away by The Nature of Witches, but it is still worth reading. The story is unique, and you’ll find yourself thinking about the world around you a lot more after reading it.