The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages (Hardcover): 288
Source: Secondhand ARC
Author: Twitter | Blog
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 intriguingly dark mystery that surrounds the town of Near. Victoria Schwab has written a beautifully intense story with the most artistic prose. The quote in the blurb "entirely original, yet achingly familiar" sums up this tale brilliantly.
Schwab wraps her words around the concept of the main heroine, Lexi, giving her full depth and solidarity; the voice of the writing ages Lexi in a way that at first made it hard to fully construct the character. But as I drifted further into the writing and the story, Lexi's character became defined and her strength, her resolution was so profound. Her rebellion against the norms of Near set her aside and help identify her as the protagonist, the hero of the town of Near.
In addition to her, Cole is the stranger, the one who isn't supposed to exist. But he arrives in Near and changes Lexi's life forever. I was hoping for a deeper plot, perhaps that the two were destined to be together. Sadly, that isn't the case and the emotions of love are interesting yet painfully stereotypical, as the story takes place over the course of only days.
Other characters like the Thorne sisters were brilliantly crafted. The addition of the sisters, their knowledge, and their quirks were entirely entertaining and they were the only place we seemed to gather new cryptic information or history on the witch.
Throughout the story, we are uncovering the facts of the life and death of the Near Witch, the trails to the children, clues hidden in ancient stories, etc. The combination of the mystery and the careful craftsmanship of the prose held the story together through the redundancy of the days in the life of Lexi.
Victoria Schwab has crafted a wonderful story with a thoughtful set of characters and the most intriguing villains. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a haunting fairy tale, it is a beautiful read.
Rating out of 5: