Author: Victoria Schwab
Published: August 2, 2011
Genre: YA, Paranormal 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.
Lexi lives in a Near, a town much like any small town. Nestled on the edge of the forest, it offers quaint simplicity, family values and a charm all its own. But Near has mysteries of its own. Stories of the wind and secrets of a dark presence and past linger on the lips of the town, and when they become reality and children start disappearing from their beds at night, reality sets in. The townsfolk want their children back, and when a strange new boy appears in town, it becomes easy to find an unfamiliar face to blame. Lexi isn't sure it's quite that simple though, and she won't stop at anything to find the real truth in Near.
Every so often, there is an author and a book that blows your mind with the elegance and grace in which a story is told. The Near Witch is that book. Perhaps it's not an entirely unheard of idea, and perhaps you might be tired of the same-old, same-old, but Victoria Schwab has proven with The Near Witch that even a familiar story can become something new and improved. With a stunning, lyrical and almost poetic voice, The Near Witch gives a flawless, picture-perfect image of a town lost in the clutches of an unknown force, while ultimately teaching the reader about love, truth and the true nature of fear.
I still have so many thoughts running through my head that it's going to be hard to paint an accurate portrayal of the beauty of The Near Witch. The characters, first and foremost, were probably the most eloquent aspect of the book for me. Lexi was the perfect protagonist - headstrong and honour-bound with a voice she wasn't afraid to raise. Cole, likewise, balanced her with a quiet, honest demeanor and a cross of his own to bear. The Near Witch did an interesting thing with the secondary characters though. Rather than giving us a plethora of well-defined characters, The Near Witch gave us a host of secondary characters that were more like sketches until their actions filled in the blanks and brought them to life. That, in a nutshell, is how the plot wove its way through the story. Effortlessly balancing a creepy undertone that seamlessly blends with a sweet, believable romance, as well, The Near Witch pretty much epitomizes perfection. The most important thing to mention is that The Near Witch resonates with reality despite the unrealistic elements. There is an ultimate basis of the truth of human nature in the story that is real, accessible and (at times) edge-of-your-seat creepy.
All in all, I was completely blown away by The Near Witch. I expected a good read, but this was far better than I'd anticipated, and Victoria Schwab has easily edged into my top ten favourite authors. I give it a 5 out of 5 (6, if I could), and I would highly recommend it to both fans of YA and adult books, especially those who enjoy paranormal, fantasy and contemporary fiction because there are elements of each.
I received this ARC free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.