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
The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.
Lexi is a great heroine. She loves her family and feels the need to protect them at whatever cost there might be. Cole is simply beautiful. The mystery surrounding him makes him that much more enticing.
I don't think this is a book you will want to rush through. Take the time to read it and enjoy it.
Lexi is an amazing lead female character. She is strong, courageous, daring, cares for her family, and does what she thinks is right, even if it's dangerous. Ms. Schwab gives us a great female lead for young adults to look up to. I found myself wanting her courage! Her love for her family just jumps out of the book and you can't help but love her family, too. Cole is mysterious and I could not wait to find out more about him. The relationship building between Lexi and Cole was written superbly. I could not put the book down because I wanted to find out more about him. Right now I can't even find the words to describe how much I loved his character and Ms. Schwab's writing style. Seriously.
This book was hauntingly beautiful. I mentioned early that I had goosebumps and I also got the heebie jeebies a few times. I don't want to give anything away because I don't want to ruin the book, but if you love a good scary story, go pick this book up NOW. You will not be disappointed. I cannot wait to read more by Victoria Schwab. Beautifully done. 5/5 stars
I've heard everybody rave about how awesome Lexi is, but I wasn't quite feeling it most of the time. She proved herself in the end, but while I applaud her for wanting to help, she just seemed majorly stubborn in the beginning to me. Cole wasn't anything swoon-worthy for me either. Mostly he was just neither here nor there. I could take him or leave him. And Helen. Her placement in the story was just kind of odd to me. Lexi seemed to be more of a loner so I don't really think she needed a best friend in the story. Also, Helen was barely there at all. In fact, she's only in three scenes. I feel like she was just this weird add-on.
Then there's the romance. I really wasn't a fan of this romance at all. There was just no lead in at all. It was like he wasn't there, then he was there, then they were all in love and stuff. I can understand being interested because he's new, but the emotions all felt like a little too much.
Final Thoughts: Despite the complaining, I really did enjoy the story. The writing was fantastic and eerie. It has a sort of fairy-tale vibe to it, but it's completely original. The stories and rhymes sprinkled throughout were a wonderful touch to a world all its own.
So begins the beautiful and beautifully lyrical The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab. This reader was immediately mesmerized by the intoxicating poetic prose in which this enchanting fairy tale/paranormal love story was written. Schwab’s debut novel is a fast paced charmer destined to be a classic. Her storytelling prowess, combined with her excellent ability to mash the best elements from the Gothic horror novel with those from modern YA romance and paranormal novels, and, remarkably, those from the latest wave of dystopian YA, leaves the reader hooked from page one to the end.
The town of Near seems trapped in a near trance of fear and suspicion as they live their lives deep inside a whirlwind undercurrent of fairy tales, rumours, truths and half-truths swirling around the presence of the witches on the town’s outskirts…both living and dead.
One of the best aspects of The Near Witch is the headstrong and independent main character, Lexi Harris. Lexi lives in a small secluded town dominated by its male citizens. But Lexi doesn’t accept her station in her male dominated society; and she certainly doesn’t take no for an answer. When the rest of Near gets up in arms over the arrival of a new stranger—something the isolated town doesn’t usually deal with—Lexi is the only one capable of keeping a level head. It is her determination to do the right thing that propels this story forward at such a galloping pace. And the first person present tense voice of our protagonist puts the reader right at her side, cheering her on along the way. Schwab picked the perfect voice to tell her story.
When the town’s youngest children begin to disappear, Lexi will do anything to prevent her little sister Wren from becoming one of the missing. She will also do anything to save those who are already gone. But the men of her town, led by a Council of three and her own Uncle Otto, do whatever they can to prevent her intrusions and interventions.
This story is so well written, the reader will want to devour it in one sitting. But it’s also one of those books they will want to take their time with, so they can cherish the ride. Every character is well drawn, from the stranger Cole, to the sisters Thorne (Magda & Dreska), to Lexi’s jilted paramour Tyler Ward.
This was a remarkable adrenalin spiked read. Schwab is a master storyteller with a beautiful lyrical style readers will fall in love with immediately. The Near Witch is marketed as a YA, but it is absolutely a story for all ages. I look forward to seeing the next offering from Victoria Schwab. And the next and the next. A writer who can tell such a tight fast-paced story in such a lovely voice is definitely a writer to watch.
"It starts with a crack, a sputter, and a spark."
There are many fine things about THE NEAR WITCH, but the first thing you notice is the prose. Victoria's prose is delicious, filled with just the right words for the job. It is beautiful, but it never gets in the way. It simply evokes the perfect images at the perfect moments. There are passages in this book, particularly about the wind, I could read over and over again for the pleasure of it.
The cover copy says, "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." This. This is what I want you to know about THE NEAR WITCH. It fits just right in the corners of my mind reserved for fairy tales and stories I grew up with. It is new, but it lives in my thoughts as though it's always been there.
I'd love to tell you about all my favorite parts of this book -- the weight of history, the father's lingering presence and influence though he died years ago, and the mysterious witches living on the edge of Near -- but honestly, you could open the book to any random page and that would be one of my favorite parts. I love the way the wind and the moor are characters too, and the way the magic slips into the story--familiar but surprising. I loved that the town of Near feels like a real small town with its history and superstitions and gossip.
THE NEAR WITCH is a story about love, trust, and doing what is right. It is fierce and beautiful, and Lexi is a strong heroine everyone can relate to. I'd recommend it to everyone, but particularly fans of Robin McKinley and Patricia McKillip.
I really believe that a well-loved folk or fairy tale has to have a certain level of darkness in it to be good. And The Near Witch starts with just that -- a story which scares you with its possibilities, a story that reminds you when you hear an unexpected knock, knock, knock that it just may be true.
Also, Victoria Schwab is THAT writer. You know the one that will keep you guessing, wondering and all the while you will be hypnotized by her gorgeous choice of phrasing. Here’s an example with her protagonist, Lexi, and the mysterious boy, Cole, who shows up just as the disappearances start (from page 86):
I pause a moment, leaning against a rock. The world tips dreamily.
“You’re tired,” he says.
I shrug, but linger another moment.
“I’m fine,” I say, straightening. “Tell me a story.” I yawn as we continue walking along the narrow dirt lane, the wind-blown path always to our left. “It’ll help keep me awake.”
I didn’t want just any story, I want his. I want to know the world beyond the Near and the way they speak and the stories they tell and why he is here, in his singed gray cloak, and why he is keeping his words close.
“I don’t know any,” he says. His eyes wander over the field to the grove in the distance, sitting like a knot of shadows.
“Make one up,” I say, glancing back now at the blue-black world that falls away behind us. Cole looks back, too, frowning as if he sees something different, more troublesome or alive than the simple landscape, but he says nothing, seems to grow thinner before my eyes.
“All right,” I say at last. “I’ll start, then. Any requests?”
The silence is so long that I think he hasn’t heard me. The wind around us hums. Finally he speaks.
“Tell me about the Near Witch.”
Victoria is a masterful storyteller who will amaze you with a fairy tale so visceral and real that you will want to leave the light on at night. Having said that, she will also leave you smiling with her to-die-for romantic moments. Lexi and Cole experience the kind of love that makes sense in its spontaneity.