Wild is the Witch by Rachel Griffin. Sourcebooks, 2022. 9781728229454
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or starred review) 4
Format: Paperback, advanced reader copy
Genre: Young adult fantasy (magical realism)
What did you like about the book? (Synopsis) In a society that accepts witches but regulates the use of magic, teenage witch Iris is struggling to move on after her friend’s misuse of magic turns deadly. Iris was cleared of wrongdoing, but the tragedy tears her family apart, forcing her and her mom to start new lives across the country. It leads Iris to hide her magic, especially from Pike Alder, a coworker at her mom’s nature refuge who hates witches and drives her crazy. But in a fit of frustration, Iris casts a spell she never intended to use. The result could mean deadly consequences for Pike and the new life she’s built, forcing them to team up on a mission into the mountains surrounding the refuge in search of an injured owl that holds the key to the miscast spell. Will Iris be able to fix things while still keeping her magical secret from Pike? Or will the worst happen, causing her to violate the laws of magic and lose everything she holds dear? The story is a page-turner that combines magic, nature and romance. The idea of magic as an organic force that can be channeled rather than controlled is refreshingly different from many stories about magic. In addition, there is a positive depiction of a lesbian relationship.
Anything you didn’t like about it? When Iris is casting the spell in frustration, the author explains that it’s a tradition passed down by her grandmother. There’s one section where that’s explained a little too repetitively. But aside from that, the story is fast-paced and engaging.
To whom would you recommend this book? The adventure in nature and Iris’s connection to animals reminded me of books by Gary Paulsen and Jean Craighead George. The relationship between Iris and Pike is typical of many young adult romance novels where enemies forced together end up friends – or more.
Who should buy this book? High school and public libraries
Where would you shelve it ? Young adult/teen section
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? If you like magical realism and nature stories, you’ll want to try this.
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Sue McHugh, Hanover High School, Hanover, MA
Date of review: March 7, 2022