It’s been a year since Clara lost control of her powerful magic and accidentally killed her best friend, and she still lives in fear that her powers will hurt someone again. Her magic just seems drawn to the people she loves—with disastrous consequences.
Clara is an Everwitch, a rare witch who can access the magic of all four seasons. While her peers at the Eastern School of Solar Magic are at their most powerful in spring, summer, fall or winter, Clara’s powers rotate and change with the seasons, and her fear of her own magic is starting to cause her to fall behind at school.
In The Nature of Witches, witches are key players in the global fight against climate change and atmospheric disruption, especially since shaders (people who don’t have magic) insist on developing and exploiting places on the planet that should remain wild. As an Ever, Clara should be a singularly powerful witch, destined to be indispensable in the intensifying struggle to calm the raging atmosphere. But Clara is stuck, too scared to train the way her teachers want her to but conscious of the grave responsibility an Ever holds.
The environmental situation is worsening, and Clara must decide whether to join the fight for the planet or take the drastic step of relinquishing her powers forever. When she’s paired with a new training partner, the calm and gentle spring witch Sang Park, Clara begins to see a way to trust herself and her powers again.
Rachel Griffin’s debut YA novel is a fascinating blend of climate fiction, fantasy, boarding school novel and romance. Clara’s trauma and fear are well developed, and her backstory makes her extreme resistance to forging relationships or using her magic understandable. The connections Griffin builds between the natural world and the witches’ magic are fresh and intriguing.
The book’s looming sense of danger comes from the chaotic environment, one in which the climate crisis has worsened significantly, rather than from a traditional antagonist, which leaves more room for Clara’s interiority and growth. YA fantasy connoisseurs may be able to predict a few revelations about Clara’s magic, as well as some story beats along the way, but the near-future setting and the witches’ ancient earth-magic practices are exciting and immersive. Steeped in love for the natural world, The Nature of Witches is a new spin on familiar themes that readers will find inspiring and satisfying.