The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin
Finally, I can share this gorgeous, visual YA fantasy by author Rachel Griffin. The Nature of Witches is an absolute delight, set in an alternative universe where witches control the weather. I could definitely see this book translated the big screen, too, as it has such gorgeous imagery.
I received an advanced copy of the book from the Sourcebooks Fire via Netgalley; all opinions are my own. This post contains some affiliate links that may earn me a commission if you purchase through them.
The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin
Synopsis for The Nature of Witches
on June 1, 2021
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Contemporary, Wizards & Witches, Girls & Women
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One of the Most Anticipated Young Adult Debuts of 2021!
From a stunning new voice in YA comes the fierce, romantic story about a world on the brink of destruction, the one witch who holds the power to save it, and the choice that could cost her everything she loves.
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.
"A bright, fresh read from a glowing new voice, THE NATURE OF WITCHES is both timely and stirring. Griffin's emotional writing that cuts to the heart will make her a new YA favorite."--Adrienne Young, New York Times bestselling author of Fable
"The forces of nature and magic blend perfectly in this masterfully told story... I couldn't love this book more."--Shea Ernshaw, NYT bestselling author of The Wicked Deep and Winterwood
My Thoughts (a.k.a. where I rave about this book)
The Nature of Witches is a YA fantasy book that I absolutely devoured. Rachel Griffin has created an imaginative take in her alternative world, where witches control the weather and work with regular humans – referred to as shaders to keep the weather systems under control.
But shaders have become greedy and are developing more and more of the earth, and it’s made the atmosphere unstable, in turn overwhelming witches across the globe.
Witches are categorized by season: Autumns, Winters, Springs, and Summers. Their strengths are strongest in their own season, and their magic reflects characteristics of their season. But Clara is an Ever – she possesses the magic of all seasons, using the magic of each season as she rolls into it. She’s the first Ever in over 100 years, and doesn’t know how to use or control her magic. What she does know is the cost of it.
Paige looks at me. “The game has changed, and if a few people have to die in order for you to help, it’s worth it.” She says it like a true winter, but the smallest hint of sadness softens her words.
“I’m not sure Nikki would agree with you.”– The Nature of Witches, Rachel Griffin
Other things I loved
I love the unique magic system that Griffin has devised. Each season of witches have their own distinct traits, so well depicted that you could almost feel them yourself. I appreciate that in this alternative universe, witches live openly and work with humans (shaders) – so called, I think, because witches draw their power from their connection with the sun.
This is a beautiful story filled with lovely imagery and interesting characters, along with a sweet (slow-burn) romance. Griffin’s writing is both precise and lyrical.
The plot moves at a quiet, steady pace, that pulls at the heart. It has moments of tension and moments of beauty. Interestingly, Griffin somehow manages to maintain a quiet, steadily unfolding story with a “race-against-the-clock” element as Clara is pressured to master her powers before the next catastrophic weather event.
And speaking to that, the story’s incorporation of climate change issues into the plot was unique. Ordinary humans are destroying the environment, which is causing some serious weather issues, and have become over-reliant on the witches to keep everything in balance. It sheds light on current issues but never feels preachy.
I have a love-hate relationship with Chosen One tropes. I enjoyed how Griffin handled this trope. With a twist: while everyone was awaiting the next Ever Witch, it has been so long since the last one that no one knew what their powers actually did, or how they worked. So not only do you have a Chosen One of sorts who doesn’t know if she wants the job, no one truly understands her magic, only that she is desperately needed.
So…elemental magic, LGBTQ themes, climate change issues, a sweet, slow-burn romance with a lovely romantic interest, and beautiful writing.
Clara is a complicated character. She struggles to understand and accept this gift she has that is so rare her teachers aren’t really sure WHAT it is or how it works, and all she knows is that it has taken so much from her that she fears it. However, there are moments when her character needs a good shake, and I wish her interactions with her other classmates was a little deeper (particularly Paige.)
I also liked Sang’s character. He is sturdy and gentle and kind, and brings a calming thread to the story. He’s probably more patient with Clara than I would be.
While Clara faces increasingly dangerous situations with the weather in each of the seasons over the course of a year, this is really a story of Clara’s journey to self-discovery and self-acceptance, and finding her place in the world. Does she keep her magic that will force her to live her life devoid of close relationships, because her magic is drawn to those she loves (with terrible consequences)? Or does she give up her magic for a chance at a normal life?
What I would have liked a tiny bit more of
Ok, so I know this is more of a character-driven piece than an action-driven piece. But the really cinematically dramatic opening scenes made me CRAVE more of it because they were so visual. And while I liked the ending, I would have loved an even MORE action-filled ending. GIVE ME ALL THE WEATHER CHAOS.
(That said – I did love all the moody, atmospheric, and visual descriptions of the storms. Someone pick up this book and turn it into a movie, PLEASE. I still haven’t decided who I would cast at Clara, though…)
Summing it up
With the quiet feel that fans of Practical Magic would enjoy, beautiful prose, a fascinating elemental magic system in an interesting alternative world, I really adored this story and look forward to more from this author. I happily would give it six stars if I could, so five will have to do.
Premise: In an alternative world where witches have the power to control the weather in a particular season (and governments have pushed them to their limits while destroying the environment), a teen with long awaited powers that she’s not sure she even wants (the Everwitch can control the weather in every season) struggles to learn to control them in time to prevent a cataclysmal weather event and with the choice to live as a witch – or give them up forever and live as a normal human.
Perfect for: fantasy lovers, readers who love creative magical systems, readers who love swoony, slow-burn romances
Or, might want to take a pass: people who don’t hate chosen one tropes, people who like fast-paced action
Genre(s): YA, fantasy, romance