The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin

The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin. Sourcebooks Fire, 2021. 9781728229423

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3

Format: Hardcover

Genre: Fantasy, romance

What did you like about the book?  In Clara’s world, witches control the weather, but that task has become more difficult as the non-magical Shaders exploit the Earth’s resources. Each witch is most powerful in their appointed season, but Clara is the first Ever witch in 100 years. Her abilities never ebb and may be exactly what the Earth needs to bring the weather back into balance. However, following the violent deaths of her parents, her friend Nikki, and a beloved teacher, Clara fears her power. A new, stern teacher appears at the Eastern School of Solar Magic where she trains, accompanied by an enormously handsome and sweet spring witch named Sang. Hopefully Clara’s lack of connection to Sang will ensure his safety. As the two work together to control her powers through the 4 seasons, they fall in love and Clara toys with giving up her magic completely in order to keep Sang safe, even though that would leave the witches, the Shaders, and the Earth at the mercy of increasingly dangerous storms. I thought the premise of the book was promising: the combination of real-life fears about climate change fused with a magical school and witches. The romance between the two main characters was sweet and passionate and I was relieved that the book seemed to wrap up at the end, with no hint of a sequel.  Clara is bi, having had a prior relationship with a cool winter witch named Paige. She and Paige are White, while Sang is described as Asian with golden-bronze skin.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  Griffin spends an enormous amount of time describing weather phenomena to the exclusion of world-building. I would have liked to have learned more about the state of the environment, the relationship between witches and Shaders, and about the magical powers taught at the school. Clara has the memoir of the most recent Ever witch, Alice Hall, but it’s consulted rarely and doesn’t provide much useful or interesting information. 

To whom would you recommend this book?  Teens looking for a romance with some fantasy elements. It’s gently dystopian, so teens looking for story that’s more upbeat may also appreciate this book.

Who should buy this book? High schools and public libraries

Where would you shelve it?  YA fiction, fantasy if you genre-fy

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: August 19, 2021

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