The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin is a unique contemporary fantasy. Clara hates everything about being an Everwitch, but in The Nature of Witches, she learns to change.
The quotes in this review are from an advanced reader copy. They may not reflect quotes in the published copy.
For centuries, witches have maintained the climate, their power from the sun peaking in the season of their birth. But now their control is faltering as the atmosphere becomes more erratic. All hope lies with Clara, an Everwitch whose rare 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.
“I have loved magic more deeply, more wholly than I could ever hope to love another person, and magic has loved me back.”
It’s hard to put into words how I felt about this book. The world-building was sensible and fantastic. I understood how the magic worked, and it was all simple enough to understand. However, the blurb about the book implies that Clara will be fighting climate change or love. That is not what the book is about. If you’ve read my reviews before, you know that I love a good character growth story. There is a structure around what makes that a story worth reading, though, and it requires a plot that leaves you satisfied. Unfortunately, that’s where this book lost me.
“If people I care about are going to die because of me, I ‘m going to make damn certain my magic is worth something.”
Clara grows immensely in this story and you get a chance to see it. She never actively solves the climate change issue. She never is approached with an earth-shattering, high-risk situation. In fact, Clara is only ever faced with her own selfish defeatism. This made her a frustrating character read. With the plot being more of an afterthought, it also made the relationships feel unrealistic to me. I didn’t emotionally connect to any of the other characters, specifically because Clara keeps them at arm’s length. When a story is told in the first person, you want to feel for the people in that person’s life. Clara resents everyone who enters her life, even when she loves them. This is mind-numbing after 50% of the same exact behavior.
“You look at him as if he’s magic.”
I will say, this was a quick read. The pacing is quick and consistent. The peak resolution was more or less satisfactory as a character development-driven plot. I wanted more from it all. There is no external conflict. I still have questions about this world, and the way nature is reacting. It seemed as though the “witches fight climate change” was just an easy sell point to make. I wanted to like this book, it has all of the elements of things I love, but the execution missed the mark.
“You’re my sun.”
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.