“The Nature of Witches” is a true, and beautiful, YA story featuring a heroine born with a wonderful and strong power that she does not want because of the devastating effects it can have on those closest to her. Clara, as the only Ever in over a century, is desperately needed to hold the world’s atmosphere together while witches and non-witches alike figure out how to reverse the effects of climate change. But Clara feels too out of control, too scared of her own magic to want the responsibility. If she can’t keep her magic from hurting those she loves, she’d rather not have it at all. See what I mean about this being a true-blue YA novel? This book is very much a coming of age, self-discovery novel with the overall message being: love heals, but you have to be willing to let it. It’s a beautiful message, and there were some equally beautiful scenes in this book, too. So why was I kind of “meh” about it?
Ultimately it came down to the main character, I just did not like her. I can appreciate that the MC wasn’t written for me, an actual adult, but even so. When there is a character in the story calling out Clara for being purposefully defeatist and weak, you have to kind of assume that the author knew Clara was being a pill, right? Clara is very wrapped up in her own personal fears about her magic, and while valid, it’s hard to sympathize when she also sees how not using her magic hurts the world at large. A lot of Clara’s seclusion and loneliness is self-imposed, so it got a bit hard to feel bad for her at times. Having a lot of inner turmoil as the driving factor for a book is fine! But only if you like the character, and I had a hard time with Clara for a majority of the novel, but I am trying really hard not to hold that against the book as a whole…
I really loved Sang though, and I loved the magic system that was used in this book. Using flowers to speak through emotions? Yes please! For a book about how the changing climate is only being held together—and barely—by witches tied to the four different seasons, I never once felt preached to. So if you’re looking for a good YA book that discusses the importance of healing the planet without feeling like you’re being yelled at the whole time, this is it! The magic system, while simple, was also really lovely. I thought the idea of a witch only being powerful in their season was clever and I loved how Clara felt all the seasons and their magic, and how the magic responded to her in turn. It made me realize I am very much a late spring/early summer witch, and I am here for that.
But even with how much I enjoyed Sang and the magic, I still felt lackluster to the book as a whole. It could be because the hype train for this novel meant that I would, inevitably, be let down, or it could be that there was no true villain the way you expect in most fantasy books. Most of the conflict came from Clara not wanting to do something, or unable to do something. Sure, there are some bad characters in the book that do very questionable things, but there’s nothing for Clara to defeat, so to speak, except her own fears. I think it also would have been nice to see more of the non-witches in the story. You see a few, but ultimately the whole book takes place at the witch school and the shaders (non-witches) and their involvement with climate change are discussed, but you never really see any of them. Which is why I am giving this 3 stars. For a debut novel, it’s really impressive! I know this author is going to be amazing! But this book just didn’t sweep me away as I thought it would, which is more on me than the book, methinks, but here we are… I’ll definitely be saving this for my niece to read in the future though!
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