Publisher: Hyperion Books
Format: eGalley (courtesy of Netgalley)
Genre: Paranormal, Young Adult
Publication Date: 08.02.2011
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.
The first thing I noticed about The Near Witch, is that Victoria Schwab's storytelling skills are superb. She writes beautifully, and the old tales told in the town of Near for ages feel like something Hans Christen Anderson could have come up with. When it becomes apparent that these tales might have some truth to them, the story dives into a chilling story of disappearing children. And boy, did it freak me out! Word to the wise: do NOT read this book at night. Especially if it is windy outside. The Near Witch was able to successfully make me feel like my eight-year-old self who is afraid of windy nights. The story definitely has a haunting sort of feel to it.
I wanted to give this book a higher rating, but I just couldn't. The love interest is a flat character, who we get to know almost nothing about. Even after he tells his story, I still felt like I had no idea who he was; what made him tick; what he felt passionate about. Along the same lines, I didn't believe the love between them was real at all. They fell in love almost instantly, and it seemed to happen out of a mutual understanding that at a later point in the book, they would need to be in love to move the story forward. It just didn't work for me.
It also seemed that the MC never got any sleep! She is out every single night in the story, and then out every day from sunrise to sunset. There were only a few times when we are told that she actually slept, and even then it was only for a couple of hours. Being out for so long meant that she also skipped most meals, which just added to the fact that this girl should not have been able to function!
The passage of time also seemed to fluctuate throughout the story. In one scene, the MC gets up early in the morning to walk to the witches' house, is there for a few minutes, and makes it home just before the sun goes down. In another scene she is able to make it to the witches' house, back home, and then far out of Near before the sun even starts fading (no, this is not a spoiler). These inconsistencies happened quite often, although I admit that I might not have paid so much attention to them if it weren't for the no-sleep/no-food thing. And who knows? Maybe she did eat and sleep, and maybe she was just a fast or slow walker, depending on the need. Whatever it is, these things weren't mentioned in the book enough to make it believable.
Despite the above, Lexi is a character with strong determination and good sense of self worth. I like that. She doesn't let the men in her town push her around, and she doesn't let their threats make her stop her search for answers, either. Go Lexi! Aside from Lexi, there were some other strong characters, like the uncle and the witches, who I really liked. They were each consistent, and acted according to their situations.
As a standalone novel, The Near Witch is a good read. The pace is a little on the slower side, allowing the haunting atmosphere to really set in, and your mind to be thoroughly freaked out. Don't say I didn't warn you.
...you are in search for a haunting story, you aren't afraid of the dark, and think you can keep your ears from listening to the wind.
*This section may contain some spoilers about content!*
A clean read, but definitely for the older ones who don't scare easily. :)