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  • Writer's pictureThe Fiction Fox

Review: The Nature of Witches - Rachel Griffin

Genre: Fantasy

Published: Sourcebooks Fire, June 2021

My Rating: 1/5 stars

“Never let anyone make you feel bad about the things you’re capable of. Some will insist you step into the shadows to make them more comfortable. But I’ll tell you a secret: there’s enough light for us all.”

I still struggle with DNF’ing books, let alone rating them if I haven’t finished (or skim-read the rest, like I did in this case). On the other hand: life is too short to waste your time and if I dislike a book so much that I can’t even push myself to finish it, it deserves a one-star rating from me.

I was excited for The Nature of Witches: elemental magic weather, an environmental message and a stunning cover, had me really rooting for this book. Unfortunately, none of what it set out to do worked for me. Slight spoilers ahead...

Our story is set in an alternate version of modern day America, where people born at the night of the seasonal equinoxes are imbued with the magic of said season. Their powers are linked to this season and its elemental characteristics, and together they form a powerful society that controls and protects the weather and the climate. 17-year old Clara is a special type of witch; the first of her kind in centuries. Not only is she more powerful than any regular witch her age, as an Everwitch, she has year-round control of all 4 types of seasonal magic. With the world at the brink of environmental destruction, Clara is the only hope to save the climate. Unfortunately, this interferes with her budding romance with her tutor, spending time with her friends and general whining about “just wanting to be a normal teenager”…

As you’ve probably gathered from this description; this is another take of the Chosen One trope, where I absolutely detest the main character. Clara is a whiny, immature and bratty teen with little regard for anything outside her own little world. I can absolutely empathise with the anxiety that comes with external expectations and pressures. Where I draw the line is in constant self-pity and taking zero responsibility or agency in the face of crisis greater than yourself.

Add to that:

- a beat-by-beat Chosen One plot that offers little to no surprises

- a weak romance that takes centre stage wáááy too often, even though the characters have absolutely subzero chemistry. Also the classic, “choice” between being with the lover you’ve known for a few months and saving the literal world, which for some reason is a difficult one for our protagonist…

- being told over and over again how powerful Clara is, to the point where people sacrifice literal years of their career to train her. To the point where she needs to control her power everyday or she'll hurt her loved ones *cue the humble-bragging, wish fullfilment power fantasy...* But never seeing any of her power…

- The pretence of an environmental message that’s ultimately as empty as the protagonists head.

- and of course an amount of miscommunications-melodrama and angst that could eclipse the sun and drain all these witches at once…

Overall, I truly tried to like this book, but it made for one of the worst reading experiences I’ve had this year. Perhaps if you’re on the upper side of middle-grade or the younger side of YA, or if you’re truly interested in ”The Teenage Angst of Witches”, you might enjoy it. For me, this just brought nothing to the table I haven’t seen done before, or better. On to the next one…


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