Author: Victoria Schwab
Publish date: August 2, 2011
Genre: YA, fantasy
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.
I really enjoyed the mystery and intrigue of this book! It was a short book, and only took place over the course of a week or so, but a lot happens in that week: a stranger appears, children disappear, the wind comes alive, witches share secrets, the townspeople converge, and sneaking around happens.
Lexi is a strong character. She’s another MC who has lost her father, and it makes her stronger as a person, and more courageous (or reckless). She doesn’t listen to her uncle, who is the man of the family, and her mother is a shell of a person since her father died, so she doesn’t pay much attention to what she does. So when the stranger appears, Lexi is out tracking him on her own to get answers. And when the kids start disappearing, she’s out tracking them, using the skills her father taught her in order to find them and bring them home.
The relationships in this story were really well developed, especially those Lexi has with the stranger, her uncle, and the sisters. Each has its own feel and was consistent throughout the book. I trusted in Lexi and the relationships she had. I trusted her instincts, and it’s a good thing that she did, too. She wasn’t unsure of much. And this shows what a strong character she is.
It was frustrating reading this book, only because so many things kept going wrong for Lexi. There were so many roadblocks. She would decide, “Ok, this is happening tonight,” and then something would go wrong or someone/something would get in the way and prevent things from happening. It made the story seem realistic. You’re not always going to succeed on the first try. Things will go wrong and you just have to remember to try and try again no matter what stands in your way. If you believe in yourself and in what you’re doing, then don’t stop trying. This is definitely the mind frame that Lexi was in for the majority of the book. She never stopped fighting, and I loved that about her.
Victoria has an awesome way of writing. It’s so fantastical and lyrical. I really felt like the wind was whispering and the grass was swaying because she’s so great at describing these things in a magical way. I like that The Near Witch is a stand-alone, and it ended really well. But I’ll definitely be looking forward to V’s next book, The Archived, and having the opportunity to take in more of her beautiful writing.