The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab
Released: August 2, 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.
Victoria Schwab writing in The Near Witch reads like a seasoned professional. It's filled with lovely, descriptive imagery that brings Lexi's story to life and by the time you've finished it, you wonder if this is an old fairytale you've only read now for the first time. Yet it still brings to mind familiar stories, like the Pied Piper which lend it a sense of nostalgia most newly published books are missing.
The Near Witch is a classic, timeless piece and it is just as enchanting as older tales. The old stories which intoxicate Lexi so much to draw her in to the ancient mysteries of Near work just as well on the reader, if not better.
That being said, this novel is short, yet it didn't feel that way until I was finished reading it. Schwab's development is patient and well-timed, although I did find the first 50 pages or so to be slower than the rest in the buildup it took to create the setting of Near (which was well worth it).
I really did have some problems with Lexi's choices as well, but they stem from my experiene as an older sister. With everything happening in Near and Lexi's close proximity to the events, the last thing I would do is leave my little sister on her own, which frustrated me with Lexi as a character.
Besides that, however, The Near Witch is a stunning, captivating tale and Schwab does not disappoint. She lives up to every expectation, and will clearly develop excellent books in the future.