August 2nd 2011
The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.
If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.
And there are no strangers in the town of Near.
These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.
But when an actual stranger—a boy who seems to fade like smoke—appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.
The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.
As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know—about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.
Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won’t soon forget.
The Near Witch is an amazing book. I don't think I've read a book this beautifully written in a while. It's romantic and atmospheric and the sort of book you want to savour. It draws you in and before you know it it's 4 in the morning and your ten pages from the end. Yes. It really is that good.
Lexi was such a great character. Most of the time I find that in books like this, where they're sort of fairy-taley and creepy, that I always have a sense of detachment from the characters, and I struggle to relate to them, but Lexi was awesome! She was headstrong and tough, but no so much that she travelled into BAMF territory, and not so little to push her into Bella territory. She just seemed quite natural to me, despite where she lived and how they lived. She's also bloody brave, I'll tell you that! Traipsing around the moors at night.. How she didn't just freeze up and run home I don't know. Plus she was brave in always believing in Cole's innocence despite what the rest of the village thought.
I also really loved her mother, and the witches Magda and Dreska. I liked how strong her mother was, despite her not really seeming it, and that she believed her daughter over Otto and Bo and the men of the village. And I liked the witches because... Well, because I like witches, I guess... No, but I liked their stories, and that they weren't bad people, and how old they were! I really liked the whole idea behind witches in this whole book though, really. How they're born that way, and the tale of The Near Witch and how she created a fear of witches in the town of Near... I loved all the stories in it.
And I loved Near itself. Even though most of the people who lived there were rather small minded in blaming the first stranger they see without evidence or trial... But I loved the whole village small mindedness and general ignorance to the idea that the Near Witch could have come back. And the descriptions of it and the moors and the moor winds all made it so clear in my mind. Another great thing about it was the ambiguity as to when and where the story was really set, like, what country and whether it was modern times and they were just very behind or whether it was further back or whether it was just a fantasy place...
The only real qualm I had with it was the romance between Cole and Lexi. At the time when the romance began, I couldn't really see any basis for it as they'd rarely spoke and only seen each other a few times. I felt that by the end of the book, I could see why they would've got together, being that they'd spent a few nights out on the moors together searching and also getting to know each other a lot better (not even being sarcastic there... ;) Get your mind out the gutter! ;p) and I felt in would've been more believable for me if they'd got together at the end, but it might not of been the same. I mean, the romance worked for the book, but I just couldn't buy into it completely for a while.
The Near Witch is a stunning debut novel which I really, really loved and thought was beautifully written with some really great characters and an inventive and slightly creepy plot. Go read it. Like, now. ;)