Rachel Griffin does it again with a beautifully-written and poignant tale that twists magic and nature. Much in the same vein as her debut, The Nature of Witches, Wild is the Witch creates a comforting and cozy contemporary fantasy with stunning details that makes the reader want to immediately pack a bag for the Pacific Northwest. Rachel has quickly become an auto-buy author who promises stories rich with lovely characters, fantastic atmosphere and settings, and compelling real-world consequences.
Our story follows Iris, a witch who works with her mother at the Foggy Mountain Wildlife Range, which rehabilitates injured animals or cares for them if they cannot return to the wild. As a witch whose powers can subtly influence animals’ emotions and communicate telepathically with them, she loves her life – but it hasn’t always been so. Iris witnessed firsthand what magic can do when her best friend tried to turn a boy into a witch. Ultimately, the spell backfired causing the boy to die, and her best friend was stripped of her magic after a tribunal of witches found her guilty of recklessly using her magic.
After the incident, Iris is forced to pick up her life with her mom and start over in a new place, but the impact of those events cannot be escaped. Iris is left to grapple with the guilt of not saving the boy and her best friend from their fates and the implications of being a witch in a modern world that not only does not understand but may fear her and her power.
While Iris is slowly healing, she is constantly prickled by the Foggy Mountain Wildlife Range’s intern, Pike. Pike is a foil to Iris in many ways, not only in personality and work ethic but also because he deeply dislikes witches. To work through her emotions and fear of Pike, Iris decides to perpetuate a ritual she learned from her grandmother – creating a curse and dispelling it to the earth. Only, at the last second, an owl flies in front of her spell and absorbs the curse, a curse designed to turn Pike into a witch. The owl, also a magic amplifier, flies away which holds huge consequences not only for Iris and Pike but also for the region. If the owl dies, the curse will be set loose and could cause fires that would devastate the area in addition to likely killing Pike in the process.
Iris must set out to recapture the injured owl and dispel the curse once and for all without anyone knowing what she’s done – but it of course is not that easy. Pike must help her track the owl and Iris is keeping the importance of their quest a secret which could cost Pike his life. Can they put their differences aside long enough to find common ground to save the injured owl, Pike, and the Pacific Northwest?
Rachel is a writer who has no problems creating immersive worlds, ones that truly put the reader in the shoes of her characters and their experiences. Every emotion felt by Rachel’s characters and every anxious moment is felt deeply by the reader. Without a doubt, Wild is the Witch transports you to the Pacific Northwest with Iris and Pike, traipsing after their cursed owl (aka MacGuffin). Every time they experience a devastating setback you truly feel just as let down. And as time starts to run out for Iris and Pike, it is like the heat on the stove is being slowly increased and the water begins to boil.
The tropes included in this book were also very enjoyable. Readers can expect loath-to-lovers and one bed (hm, tent rather) which of course leads to a lot of banter and tension throughout the book. The romance in Wild is the Witch develops very naturally and the reader is left with a sweet and realistic take on a budding romance.
Wild is the Witch also does a fantastic job of including undertones of climate change and endangered species, which are very real threats in our world today. And still, in what could easily become a “doom and gloom” take, Rachel, manages to flawlessly weave magic in a way to give us hope and leave the reader feeling uplifted about the future and how we can positively impact our real world.
Lovers of The Nature of Witches will find Wild is the Witch to be a lovely follow-up that further proves Rachel’s talents in the genre and is a must-read!