Monday, November 19, 2012

Review: The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

"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. 
Hardcover, 282 pages
Published August 2nd 2011 by Hyperion Books CH 
(summary grabbed from GoodReads)
When I started reading The Near Witch, I thought I was getting into a scary mystery type ghost/witch story appropriate for Halloween.  Ha…well, I was surprised.  The Near Witch takes place in a imaginative and fairy-tale-like middle Earth world where witches and humans live together, though not always happily.  Witches basically are people with special abilities and are feared, but not directly persecuted.  The two witches in the town of Near prefer to isolate themselves than deal with the fear of the townspeople.  The town of Near itself is an isolated village surrounded by moor and newly shaken by the appearance of a stranger. 

Our heroine, Lexi, is one of the strongest female leads I have ever read.  She strives to be like just like her father, a brave hunter who trusted the witches in town and wanted to learn from them.  Her bravery and intuition make her a great tracker, much to the dismay of her uncle who has taken over as man-of-the-house with her father’s passing.  He wants her to be a normal girl doing normal girl things -- get married, stay in the kitchen, and have babies.  I greatly enjoyed how the author had the character deal with these expectations.

Victoria Schwab’s prose and world building created this whimsical dreamy land for the town of Near.  It added to the experience of reading the story and gave it that little extra something.  The novel had a very different feeling than any other that I’ve read.

Lexi and Cole’s relationship had very little build up.  Her initial intrigue made sense, as she’d never seen a stranger before, but their feelings escalate very shortly after meeting.  In other words… insta-love.  It didn’t seem completely out of left field and wasn’t twu wuv at first sight, but it was rather sudden.  I forgave it, as I usually do.  Ultimately, I felt that there was room for growth in the love department.

Everything aside, I feel that The Near Witch is worth reading for the prose and main character alone.  That said though, the story was pretty good, but not totally amazing.  The mystery of the book was pretty easy to figure out, honestly.  I’d recommend it for light reading for when you’re feeling mysterious…

Final Thought: 33 out of 45 toadstools

This review is also posted on GoodReads


  1. Ah, insta-love. Still sounds pretty cool, though. :)

    By the way, I _love_ your rating system! "Toadstools" is adorable, but making it out of a higher number is genius. I don't know why almost all other book reviewers keep it at 5. So much more room for nuance this way.