Book Review: The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

Posted August 26, 2013 by Kara in book review, Kara / 27 Comments

Book Review: The Near Witch by Victoria SchwabThe Near Witch by Victoria Schwab
Published by Disney Hyperion on August 2nd, 2011
Genres: paranormal, young adult
Pages: 288
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four-stars

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.

27 responses to “Book Review: The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

  1. I agree with you on the writing! I haven’t read this book, but I did read the ARCHIVED, and her writing is SO atmospheric and gorgeous. After reading the first chapter in the Strand, I bought TNW simply because of it. Still have to get to the novel, but all the same…

    I believe you on the creepiness – I do remember the feel of the story, how there was no one specific time period. I haven’t watched the Village just because horror movies creep me out, but it’s good to know that the ending doesn’t disappoint, and I imagine all the world-building elements make the story that much more compelling.

    As for Lexi, even in that first chapter, I think I do remember something patronizing about the way the men treated the women. Grrr. It’s nice to know that she holds her own though.

    AHHHH I want to read this so badly, but the only time I can read an older title nowadays is if someone recommends it via my version of ‘reader’s choice.’ And it’s a standalone too! Best thing out there now for a nice read. Glad you enjoyed this one! Hope your next read is just as awesome :).

    • I agree about her writing. I think it is fantastic. The men were awful in this book. It was hard to read at times. Thank you! And that’s why I don’t do reader’s choice. That way I get to pick my own. 😀 But it’s fun for readers when blogs do that, so…

  2. I loved The Archived so much, so I was planning on reading this eventually, but this review just shot it WAY up the list. It sounds brilliant! Schwab’s writing is absolutely phenomenal. Atmospheric is totally the right word.

  3. Great review, Kara! I’ve had The Near Witch on my to-read list for a LONG time and have never picked it up. I really should get to it soon, as it sounds like something I’ll really like.

    ~Merin @ Read and Reviewed~

  4. I’ve been hearing so much about Victoria’s newer books but I do want to read this and I’m glad to know you liked it and that it’s a standalone – I enjoy single books, too!

  5. Amy

    I’m so glad to see that you liked this one!! I have had it since pretty much right when it came out and still haven’t read it yet, but your review makes me want to get to it sooner. I love creepy books, and books about witches. I’m happy to hear that the writing is great too!! Fab review hon!!

  6. Lovely review, Kara! Very happy that you enjoyed it.
    This remains to be one of my favorite books. The writing and story and characters are perfection. Cole is such an adorable love interest and Lexi is one badass mothafucka.

  7. I’ve been meaning to read this book for quite a while now myself. I’m glad to hear that you believe it didn’t disappoint! I love the idea of it basically being a dark fairy tale. And I agree. I love my standalones, so I’m always on the lookout for wonderful stories I can read and be done with, without all the waiting and anxiety that comes to play in series reading. Lovely review! I can’t wait to read this myself!

  8. I loved that this book was standalone fantasy-esque but the writing really didn’t work for me-I remember finding this so boring. Glad it worked better for you!

  9. Hey, I started reading “A Bruxa de Near” or “The Near Witch” (I’m brazilian, and I’m reading it in portuguese) on monday, and some questions came to me. I started to look for information on websites in portuguese, but I couldn’t find much. It was just recentley translated.

    To starters I really enjoyed your review. I’m used to reading literary blogs, and I am always angry when the writers spoil the endings, and even more angry when they think that reviewing is the same as summing up the whole thing.

    (I’m sorry if I make some english mistakes on the way, by the way)

    Anyway, I wanted to know. Is “The Near Witch” going to be a series of books? I’m not finished reading yet, but I searched for info on book 2 and nothing. The website I always go to for this kind of info (www.skoob.com.br) is similar to GoodReads and it says The Near Witch 01, but I’m not very convinced.

    Quoting you: “Sometimes standalone novels are the best.” Is it REALLY a standalone novel?
    I am also tired of waiting for the sequels… (When I’m too anxious I buy them in english, to practice the language and not to die in curiosity, but usually I wait for the translations).

    Well, I hope you can shed some light on my doubts, and I hope I didn’t bother you.
    Thanks in advance,
    Anne.

    • As far as I know, this IS really a standalone novel. It also doesn’t seem to me like a book that would HAVE a sequel.

      The author has a few other books though that you can read! Vicious by V.E. Schwab, and The Archived and The Unbound.

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