Published by Disney Hyperion on August 2nd, 2011
Genres: paranormal, young adult
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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 strangeróa boy who seems to fade like smokeóappears 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.
It was high time I read a me book, and I had The Near Witch sitting on my shelf for quite a while. Obviously, I had heard a lot about Victoria Schwab from blogger friends, some of it good and bad, so I knew I needed to read one of her books. Since this was her debut, I started there. And wow was it a good one.
First thing I need to praise is the writing. It’s poetic, flowy, quotable, and it almost has a cadence to it that carries throughout the book. There are certain writing styles that just speak to me and that I feel compatible with, and I felt it with this book. Oh, and you guys, the descriptions and imagery in this book are just out of this WORLD. It feels like the moor is a character all its own and you have the wind and the hills and the moon, and it’s just oh so atmospheric and brilliant.
So this book review wouldn’t be complete without some mention of the title and what that is all about. Let me just say that this book is super creepy. I wouldn’t call it scary per se, but it has its moments. There are witches, storms, children disappearing, and some really creepy townspeople that had me reminiscing about M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village. There are seriously some comparisons to draw from here because you have no idea where this town is, what time period it is set in, and why these people are the way they are. AND…I loved it. I loved the mystery of the whole thing. And they behaved so weirdly and rigidly. This village in the middle of nowhere that is plagued by a witch and children disappearing. It was spooky. But unlike The Village, it does not have a crap ending. Oh no, the ending lived up to my expectations completely.
Lexi was a pretty bad ass character too. You will not find any weak female characters here! Lexi’s mother was pretty weak but with the way her family is, it’s kind of understandable. But Lexi herself, she’s amazing. She never takes no for an answer, and she fights her ass off to get the outcome she wants. This book made me ANGRY, you guys. So angry. Lexi’s uncle and the rest of the men in town are a bunch of bumbling idiots that try to hold Lexi and the other women back, and it is nauseating. For that reason, I pictured this setting as a historical one, and it completely worked. The way the men treat the women is frustrating sometimes but I just made myself have patience and it worked out for me.
Sometimes standalone novels are the best. Sometimes you don’t need a trilogy or a series to tell a tale, and it is at this time that I would like to remind YA authors that not EVERYTHING needs to be a series. This book was fantastic. And frankly, I am tired of having to wait for book after book to come out. Victoria Schwab did it all, and she did it well in this book. Take note.