Publisher: Hyperion Books Children's
Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Summary: 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.
I read this one out of curiosity. I heard things about Victoria Schwab’s debut and it sounded pretty different than what was out there, so I decided to order it from the library.
The town of Near is built on legends--specifically the one about the Near Witch. Lexi loves to scare her little sister with the tale, but when children begin disappearing from their beds, the story is no longer amusing. With the help of a mysterious stranger and three old sisters, Lexi must attempt to solve the mystery before the town turns against her new friend and her sister is taken away.
Victoria Schwab is very obviously a good writer. I found the atmosphere in the town of Near to be very well crafted. I liked that the setting is slightly ambiguous; is Near supposed to be a historical setting or an alternate present? Regardless of the answer, Near was the perfect place for the legend of the Near Witch. The town itself was small, overbearing to Lexi, and definitely superstitious. The folklore was a part of the people in the town.
Lexi was a strong female character that did not cater to her sexist uncle Otto’s demands, despite the fact that he ran the town. She pulled from her love and grief over her father’s untimely death in order to go against her town and discover the real reason the children were disappearing. Also, it seemed like she wanted more for herself than what the town was willing to give her, which was expectations for a relationship between her and one of the boys she grew up with and had absolutely zero interest in.
While I enjoyed this book and the way in which Schwab developed the town, its history, and the legend of the Near Witch, I found it to be a little forgettable. The writing was great, but the story did not stick in my mind for very long. Part of it was the romance between Lexi and Cole--I thought I would have appreciated their relationship more if they had been friends during the story rather than romantic leads.
Victoria Scwab’s The Near Witch was a unique young adult book about the power fear and suspicion have in a small town when its security is threatened. Schwab is a great writer with a good story to tell. I just wish this one had been a bit more memorable for me.
Rating: 3 - fair.