Witch of Wild Things by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland
September 12, 2023- Berkley
Review by Angela
Legend goes that long ago a Flores woman offended the old gods, and their family was cursed as a result. Now, every woman born to the family has a touch of magic.
After eight years away, Sage Flores is finally returning to Cranberry and her Aunt Nadia’s house. After the death of her sister Sky and the aftermath of anger and resentment from her sister Teal, she ran and never looked back. She shut away her gift and focused on her work teaching silversmithing and gem setting at Temple University. But after losing her job, she’s returned home with nothing left but her gift as a plant whisperer and Sky’s ghost, who only seems to come around when she cries. Now she’s back at her high school job, working at the Bowen’s farm, Cranberry Rose Company, and trying to avoid Tennessee Reyes, the boy who broke her heart years ago.
This was such a vibrant, imaginative story. I’ve heard it compared to Practical Magic on social media, and I partly agree. There are similarities, but this is a unique story that drew me in and kept me turning pages well into the night. Witch of Wild Things is a book about relationships- with family, lost loves, and with yourself. It’s a book about strong women with gifts many people don’t understand. But it’s also about reconciling with those you love and letting go of secrets. I would categorize it as Magical Realism with romantic elements, as I believe the main focus isn’t necessarily on Sage and Tenn, but rather on Sage reconnecting with Teal, figuring out why Sky is haunting her, and letting go of past hurts caused by her aunt and Tennessee Reyes.
The worldbuilding is well-developed, easily capturing my attention from page one. I enjoyed the magical elements, well rooted in folklore and Sage’s family’s cultural history. I think Sage is a character readers will root for, I know I did. There were times her honest reactions and inner thoughts about certain people and events made me laugh out loud.
The romance is slow-going, as Sage is still harboring feelings for Tenn, but mad at him for events that happened back in high school. Readers quickly learn that they communicated over IM back in the day, growing a friendship, but never meeting in person. Those communications are slowly revealed before the start of every chapter before the BIG thing that happens at the end when everything plotwise comes to a head. It’s a sweet romance, not really spicy, but there is an HEA.
The ending made me smile. It was wholly unexpected and I liked that. Now I’m hoping to get more books in this series, there are more stories to tell. Especially Teal, a certain bar worker, and a kiss that could have been more.