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.
This was a beautifully written story that combined all of my favorite aspects of a fairy tale into one magical twist. The Near Witch was an incredibly unique concept and the events played out in an intriguing and captivating way. Every moment left me breathless and I can't begin to say how much I enjoyed reading this book. Considering The Near Witch was a debut novel, I know Schwab has an extremely promising writing future.
To begin with, the premise of The Near Witch was something new and fresh to the YA world. Start with a mystical, isolated town, add a powerful heroine, throw in some magical romance, and top it all off with a mystery that will have you checking the locks and listening to the wind and you have one awesome book. I loved all the lore and history tied into the novel and all the stories that the different characters told. The setting was also very interesting. Near wasn't in the present or the past, but somewhere in between. It was an isolated town and the citizens were all complex and intriguing characters. Each of them reacted differently to what was happening and I loved watching the story unfold.
Lexi Harris, our protagonist, was a strong and determined teenager. She always stood up for what she believed in and didn't let anyone tell her what to do. Lexi did what was right and used good judgement in sticky situations. I also loved her little sister Wren. Wren was a sweet and smart young girl and I loved her from the start. There were so many intriguing characters in this book with mysterious backstories and each one had some role in Lexi's life and the mysteries surrounding Near.
The plot was the best part of The Near Witch and every twist and turn left me eager to find out what would happen next. Fairy tales have always had a special place in my heart and The Near Witch was an alluring tale. Schwab made The Near Witch entirely her own and the fast paced plot had me glued to the pages. Who was the mysterious stranger? What was happening to the children? What actually happened to the Near Witch? Each time one of my questions was answered a new one sprouted up and I never knew what was going to happen next.
I was expecting a lot out of The Near Witch and I got everything I had hoped for. Each time I turned the page it was like unwrapping a present- I wasn't sure what was going to be inside, but I was so excited to find out. Lexi, Cole, Wren, the witches... all of the characters added so much to the story and were interesting in their own right. This was a fabulous debut and I will definitely be recommending it. The only reason I knocked this down .5 was because I felt the ending was a little rushed. I would have loved to have a little more resolution, but other than that I think the story ended well.
In addition, the wind, magic, witches... all of it was so interesting and Schwab has such an imagination. I can't wait to see what she writes next, I'm sure it will be just as beautifully written and original, if not more!
Overall: 4.5 out of 5 stars
August 2, 2011/Disney*Hyperion/288 Pages/Young Adult
Source: Publisher (ARC)