Release date: August 2, 2011
Age Group: Young Adult
Overall: 5/5 stars
Summary from Amazon: 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.
The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab is a novel I have been eagerly waiting to read. I just had this feeling that Victoria Schwab's writing was going to be absolutely beautiful. Well, after finally reading it, The Near Witch did not disappoint.
I was instantly hooked by the creepy and mysterious themes throughout the story. I haven't read many witch novels, but this one really intrigued me. Near is a town where everyone knows everyone and everyone knows what's right and what's wrong. Everyone is intrigued by the idea of witches, but deathly afraid of them at the same time. Victoria Schwab created a beautiful world with her talk of witches and lonely wind that you should be careful not to listen to.
I very much enjoyed the Salem Witch Trial effect Victoria creates in The Near Witch through her input of superstitions, fairytales, and her excellent mix of characters. She gave us the strong female character and protagonist, Lexi, a teenage girl determined to protect her family and find out the truth. Then she gave us Cole, the mysterious yet comforting stranger who was determined to help set things right in Near and protect Lexi. But then you had the villagers and the ones in charge of protecting them. Otto, Lexi's uncle and the Protector, who always seemed to do what was "necessary", and then the Council, who were too wrapped up in tradition and duty to see outside the obvious. The overall mix of characters and events in The Near Witch caused a witch hunt that ended up going far beyond just protecting the children.
Aside from the interesting mix of characters, Victoria also had some of the most descriptive and beautiful writing I have seen in a long time. In the Near Witch, everything was about the scenery and the moor. If you live in Near, the moor and everything that is a part of it is a part of you. Victoria described the scenery beautifully. From the rich, steady earth to the haunting melody of the moor wind, Schwab drew you in as a reader so that you felt the icy but ever changing feeling of the moor all the way down to your bones.
Victoria also did an impeccable job writing the relationship between Lexi and Cole. Both of them had a strange connection to the moor (for different reasons) and you could see that in their relationship. Cole and Lexi's relationship was complicated, as he had some interesting secrets to hide, and Victoria portrayed that well in her writing. Cole constantly seemed like he was a part of the wind, about to drift away at any second, but for Lexi he was more solid and whole. Amidst all of the problems Lexi and Cole encountered throughout the book, the fact that they clung to the newest and strangest thing of all, their relationship, said a lot about their characters. I am frequently disappointed by relationships in YA novels, especially fantasy ones, but Victoria Schwab did an excellent job of adding depth to Lexi and Cole's relationship.
Victoria Schwab payed attention to every miniscule detail in The Near Witch, creating a story that is both beautiful and scary, nerve-wracking and breathtaking. If Victoria Schwab can write a debut this good, I can't wait to see what she does next.
This review was both long winded and a little vague, but I hope you got something out of it.