Synopsis: 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.
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
**I credit my love for Victoria Schwab’s The Near Witch, to the lovely and talented ladies of Swoontini.**
Victoria Schwab’s The Near Witch is a fairytale within a tale, with the perfect marriage between fantasy and paranormal. Near is a town, mostly secluded from the rest of the world, safe and protected in the moors, right on the edge of the forest. While no strangers dare wonder to Near, the townspeople are still afraid of what they fear the most. The old tales of the Near Witch have been told from family to family, echoing like a haunted song. A visitor appears, late one night, and disrupts the peace of the town of Near. Children disappear, all while fear and truth begin to surface.
While the rest of the town cowers in fear, Lexi becomes a natural heroine. Lexi is her father’s daughter, respects nature, and fears nothing. Before his passing, he taught Lexi to understand nature, listening to the wind, and watching the trees. Lexi was brave, loyal, and pure in heart. It is these qualities that allow her to face the visitor. It is these qualities that allow her to seek help from the sisters. And it is these qualities, that allow her to confront The Near Witch.
I don’t want to spoil anything, if you haven’t read it, so I’ll say this. The romance is genuine. Like a whisper in the wind, the romance is soft and slow, leaving a memory in the heart. The love compliments the story that is The Near Witch, and enhances the characters in play.
Schwab’s world is amazing, entangling me into every detail of Near. It erased the lines of reality and fiction, allowing me to be immersed in every single image that I read. The setting is perfect for this story. It is beautiful and filled with vivid and figurative words to accompany the beautiful imagery. While some of these words filled me with fear and terror, other words warmed me with an ineffable feeling. Regardless of which it was, they were like a soothing song, comforting me as I read The Near Witch.
Victoria Schwab is a literary genius. She takes prose and dresses it to become this beautiful story, filled with the perfect words. The Near Witch took my breath away, from the beginning of page 1. The first two sentences immediately grabbed me: “It starts with a crack, a sputter, and a spark. The match hisses to life.” The emotions that I felt varied for each page after that.
I loved every single character, no matter what role they played in the story. Each character had their own story, but it didn’t take away from the integrity and purity of the main plot. Schwab knew just how much to tell, and how much to leave to the imagination. Can I keep gushing about how much of a genius I think she is? The relationships between Lexi and the various characters left long-lasting impressions. They were familiar, but new and refreshing to take in. And while I had my favorites, you will definitely meet yours.
The history, the tales, the magic that belongs in The Near Witch compares to no other. The eerie tale of the Near Witch was beautiful and creepy at the same time. It’s fitting to say that what I felt about The Near Witch? It’s pure feeling, pure emotion.
Can you tell that I love the story? Well, I do. If you haven’t read The Near Witch already, I urge you to do so.