The Near Witch by V.E. Schwab

Posted April 15, 2020 by Amber in Reviews / 2 Comments

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The Near Witch

The Near Witch

by V. E. Schwab

Publisher: Hyperion on August 2, 2011
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal
Target Age Group: Middle Grade
Rating: ★★★★½

Check out this book on 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.

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.

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 found The Near Witch to be incredibly aesthetic and darling… but I can also see why Victoria did not go viral with this one.  To borrow her own words, this is a small book.  And loves, there’s nothing wrong with small books.  They can be the sweetest, most beautiful stories.  They are some of my favorite escapes.  But they do not typically turn into television shows or sit on the New York Times bestseller lists for a long time, especially when that small book is a debut.

However.

That does not mean The Near Witch or other books like it are not worth your time.  On the contrary, this was a wonderful read.  I found myself swept away to the moor with Lexi.  Schwab has this absolutely beautiful writing style that intrigues and haunts and illustrates, lingering for a moment on all the senses then wisping away as the story winds on.  I love her writing style, and having now read something YA, MG, and Adult by her… I love how they are all different, and yet, all the same.

Lexi isn’t the type of badass female heroine we get used to seeing in adventure stories.  She is quiet, smart, and one of the most stubborn characters I have seen.  Lexi was fantastic because she was a formidable heroine without sarcasm, sword fights, or because of the romance.  I loved Lexi as our protagonist because I feel like she’s such a good example of the different kinds of strong women out there.  Also, because she just seemed like a normal person who got tired of being told she couldn’t do what the boys were doing, and who wouldn’t accept that she couldn’t make a difference.  And she made a difference because of it.

If I were to criticize one thing, I think I would say the characters were a little undershared.  I toyed around with the word “underdeveloped” in this context, but I don’t think that’s accurate.  Lexi, Cole, Wren, everyone… they were full, round characters.  But I feel like there were walls around so many of the characters that we say only a sliver of each and I was unsatisfied.  And maybe that was part of their characterization, and that’s okay.  But I want so much more from each of them.

My favorite character, for the record, was Mrs. Thatcher.  I want a story about that woman, she feels like she has a story to tell.

Otherwise, the world here felt like something real.  Even with the inclusion of the witches, this felt like it could be a piece of tucked away Scottish history.  I cannot say how much I loved the aesthetic.  I’ve seen the word “creepy” thrown around in reviews, but for me… it wasn’t creepy.  It was witchy.  The most perfect, foggy day, ominous wind through the trees, witchy.

If you are looking for a good read, an easy read, and something with the best aesthetics, The Near Witch is a great book.  I will flat out tell you that I ordered a copy to add to my library after finishing because I know this is a book I can fall into.  The audiobook was… okay.  I wasn’t a huge fan of Heather Wilds, who narrated this one.  I don’t feel she was a good fit for this book and she didn’t bring it to its full potential.  But I have so much faith in V. E. Schwab and the story itself, I know this is one I’ll want to read again.

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★★★
Plot: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Writing: ★★★★★
Pacing: ★★★★★
Narrator: ★★★ 1/2
Personal Enjoyment: ★★★★ 1/2

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Have you gone back and read an author’s debut?  It’s something I do from time to time, particularly when I know I like the author’s other works.  Which debuts have you read after falling for the author?  Let me know in the comments!

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2 responses to “The Near Witch by V.E. Schwab

  1. I actually bought this when it was rereleased and V.E. Schwab was doing a book signing in London last year. It definitely feels like a writer who has the potential to evolve. I do have to say I found it a bit slow, especially towards the end – possibly because it is a quieter book than say, A Darker Shade of Magic, but I also felt like she needed to get her groove in terms of pacing. Definitely beautiful writing though – my favourite part of reading her books!

    • Amber

      Quieter books are usually slower, and the pacing feels a lot different than ADSOM or Vicious. It also only has the one POV, which may add to that pacing. You’re right though, she’s definitely found her groove since then! Her writing is practically flawless – even her less remarkable books are gorgeous, couldn’t agree more!