Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

Summary: (from
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 Near Witch
By Victoria Schwab
Release Date: August 2, 2011
Reviewed by: Baby Sister Brittany

The Sisters say: Spooky, Startling, Satisfying.  

This whole book felt like a ghost story told round a campfire in the middle of the night (it probably helped that I pretty much read the whole thing in the middle of the night). It was a familiar story in many ways (very Pied Piper), but just different enough to make it feel fresh and captivating.

Cole is intriguing. Silent and Broody, but for a reason. The broodiness is not contrived solely to give him that dark, misunderstood, bad boy feel that is so popular in YA.

Lexi is strong—an attitude to match the combat boots/hunting knife/dress combination of her wardrobe. Though, I did think that she seemed to lose some of her spunk later in the book, and had to rely on Cole too much. There is a point near the end (don’t worry, no spoilers here) that I just wanted to say, “Come on! Just do it yourself! You don’t need him there with you!” But alas, she was still hardcore enough to be awesome in my book.

Despite having very unrealistic aspects, the world of Near felt very real. The community felt clearly defined. I could feel the connections in the village, and the songs and poems seemed like traditions and tales you might really find in a small town (albeit one that is disconnected from the rest of society. Yes, that means no television, cell phones, etc). Now that I bring up the modern things that were missing, I was left wondering when exactly this story took place. I couldn’t decide whether it was sometime in the past or perhaps a future where society has regressed. Or perhaps, it, like the tale of the Near Witch, is just a story. A cautionary tale about fear, and the things it can drive people to do in the face of change—some deceitful and some heroic—depending on the person.

EDIT: Oh! And one more fantastic thing about The Near Witch-- as far as I can tell, not part of a trilogy! That's right folks! Get the whole story in one book! Enjoy!