Victoria Schwab The Near Witch
282 pp. Hyperion (Disney Book Group) 2011 ISBN: 978-1-4231-3787-0
Interest: 2011 Debut Author
Summary (From Goodreads): 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.
Prior to and during the week of The Near Witch‘s release, almost all of the blogs I follow had glowing reviews for this debut. After reading all of those reviews, and being in an odd mood on the day of the release, I decided to buy my own copy.
I think all of the reviews spoke of Schwab’s beautiful, lyrical writing and I completely agree. She created an atmosphere of mystery and magic, very much like a fairy tale. The imagery is fantastic and painted an easy to imagine setting. Overall, the writing is gorgeous and impressive.
My only complaint is that the story is too plot-driven. It was while reading this book that I realized how much more I enjoy character-driven stories. I never felt connected to Lexi or anyone in the story. I was interested in the mystery behind who’s kidnapping the children. And I was interested in the lore of the Near witch. My lack of connection with Lexi made the story drag on. I got to the point where I just wanted to know what happened. Despite the writing, and how much I was enjoying it, I found myself skimming the last couple chapters because I was growing weary and wanted to be done.
Honestly, it makes me feel down writing this review because I wanted to love this book. I did like it and will recommend it to my students. Reading is subjective and not every book is for every person. I already know which of my students will most likely love this book as much as the reviewers I follow did. I’d love to get some comments from those of you who read The Near Witch and loved it or feel the same as I do.