Wild is the Witch Book Review
Updated: Oct 21, 2022
After reading Rachel Griffin's debut novel The Nature of Witches, I had a feeling I would love this author. The suspicion was confirmed upon reading her newest release, Wild is the Witch.
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Category: Cozy Read
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RATING: 5/5 Stars
Plot: 5/5 stars
Characters: 5/5 stars
World: 5/5 stars
Pairings: Blackberry scone + London fog tea
Before we get into it, I wanted to leave a CONTENT WARNING for anyone who may be sensitive to certain topics. This book contains mentions of blood, animal death, cancer/terminal illness, and child death. If any of these topics are difficult for you, please take care or simply pass on the following review.
When a magical accident claims a life, Iris must stand trial for her involvement. After the Witches' Council finds her innocent, Iris and her mother seek a fresh start by moving to Washington and founding a wildlife refuge. But the past still haunts her, and Iris does everything she can to keep her identity as a witch secret—including not practicing magic openly and avoiding people as often as possible.
But it's impossible to always avoid Pike, the witch-hating aspiring ornithologist interning at the refuge. When one of his comments hits too close to home, she takes out her rage by creating a particularly cruel curse for him, though she has no intention of casting it. She tries to destroy it, but before she can, an owl steals it and flies from the refuge.
As luck would have it, this owl is an amplifier and not ready to return to the wild. If Iris cannot find it, return it safely to the refuge, and dispel the curse, it will affect people all over the region, not just Pike. Forced to work together, Iris and Pike trek through the forest searching for the owl. But Pike doesn't know his life is in danger or that Iris is the cause, and she's determined to keep it that way.
Of course, nothing goes as planned. Anything that can go wrong does. Storms, wild animals, and a budding newfound respect for each other throws one curveball after another at the duo. For a book that leans heavily on the characters and their evolving relationship rather than action-oriented plot points, there is still excitement to be found.
The characters in Wild is the Witch are relatable and easy to adore. Iris and Pike's banter is cute and fun, and her mom is great—something we don't see much of in YA. They all have love and deep respect for nature and the animals they look after, which automatically makes them good in my book.
I can connect to Iris as someone who spends too much time in her head worrying about anything and everything, as well as someone who loves forests and is heartbroken by their decline, who is more comfortable in nature and with animals than people.
I love that Iris’s mom is so supportive of her and values her input, even when she doesn’t agree with Iris’s opinions or decisions. When it comes to her own life, she includes Iris, asking how she feels about it. She also tries to push Iris out of her comfort zone so she can relax and enjoy being in the moment.
But it’s Pike who's able to do this by introducing Iris to new things: music she ends up loving, chips on her sandwich (which I enjoy, so I geeked reading that part), etc. He can definitely be an arrogant, picky ass—witches should burn, and if it’s not done his way then it isn’t right—but he’s also adorable in his geekiness and thoughtful kindness.
I like how Iris and Pike are polar opposites yet have so much in common—losing loved ones, hiding pain in their own way, etc. I adore how they see each other’s rough edges and force one another to confront their struggles while inspiring growth.
And of course we can't forget Winter the wolf and MacGuffin the owl! Winter is Iris's loyal best friend, who I wish could have tagged along for the journey, but I completely understand why that wasn't possible. And MacGuffin's stubborn cuteness is what keeps the story going.
There is LGBT+ representation in a female/female relationship, though they are not major players and it didn’t have a big impact on the story.
As someone who lives on the west coast and loves the Pacific Northwest, I loved the setting of this book. Flying over said landscape while I devoured this adorable story added an extra layer of coziness to this atmospheric read. Griffin does a great job building a vivid setting, specifically naming the types of trees and animals encountered.
I liked Griffin's magic system and that witches were integrated into society. While it isn't especially prevalent in the story aside from the inciting incident, the magic was never confusing or ambiguous. It was much like in her first novel, except the magic system was different. Here, witches are grouped into categories based on who their magic works on rather than their season.
Wild is the Witch is a cute, cozy, sweet book that's easy to read and enjoy. It’s not action-packed, but there are still moments of excitement. I don’t normally read contemporary novels, especially if there isn’t a big fantasy factor, but I love how this book is about magic and the everyday struggles of being human. It's about hope and fear, honesty and secrets, anxiety and vulnerability, grief and forgiveness. It’s about responsibility and how magic—like any other tool—can be used to harm or to help.
If you’re looking for something that’s witchy without being spooky, you might love this beautiful, magical book. I would also recommend it to fans of enemies-to-lovers, hidden identity, forced proximity, and/or only-one-bed tropes.
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