Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Review: The Near Witch

The Near Witch, by Victoria Schwab. The GoodReads 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.
I’m having trouble finding stuff to say about this book, and I have absolutely no idea why. After all, I thought it was quite good. So, as is the case with books I’m having trouble writing about, this review is going to take the form of the trusty ol’ “things I liked and didn’t like” list:

-The witches. I’ve always loved stories about witches, but I haven’t read one in a while, so The Near Witch really hit the spot for me. I especially love the two old witches who live at the edge of the town. They’re just so ridiculously cool.
-The setting/atmosphere. The story takes places in possibly the most insular small village ever—there are no strangers. Ever. At all. So you can imagine that this sets the scene for some crazy paranoia and fear in the town when kids start disappearing. And I just thought the whole setting of the scene—this tiny village against the backdrop of the endlessly wild and mysterious moor—made for a good story. Everything just felt so claustrophobic and eerie . . . and it was awesome.
-Wren. Awesome little sister. And I liked Lexi’s love for Wren—it revealed Lexi’s softer side.
-The writing. The writing in this book is beautiful—I don’t know what it is about the style, but is somehow fits the story so dang perfectly.

Didn’t like:
-Lexi. Okay, it’s not that I didn’t like her as much as I felt like I never got close to her. She’s fiercely independent and confident—which I don’t have a problem with, except that it makes her harder to get to know and relate to. I wouldn’t have minded a few weaknesses and a little humor tossed in.
-The ending. I felt the ending was a bit of a letdown, honestly. The book has an awesome suspense and mystery throughout, but then the second half of the climax and the resolution just felt weak after how strong the rest of the book had been. They’re not bad, per se—they’re just not as good as the rest. They felt too easy, I guess.

Overall, I’m not kidding about liking this book. I’m just having trouble expressing that like. The book reminded me a little of Chime, by Franny Billingsley, which is a very good thing, so if you liked that book, or just witch stories in general, give this book a shot.

Rating: 3.5 / 5  


  1. I've wanted to give this book a try for the longest time. I love that it's a stand alone and and seems to be quite a complete book despite some flaws. I have the opposite issue from you in that I want a strong character all the time. It's so unrealistic of me! Though I am loving Saba from Blood Red Road because of it!

  2. Chime is one of my favorite books ever now, so maybe I will try it, although I think it will probably pale in comparison (Chime was just so flipping good...)

  3. I loved this book :D Have you read the short story Schwab wrote about Cole? It's called 'The ash-born boy' and it's free on the internet! It was very fun to find out more about him.


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