Book: The Near Witch
Author: V.E. Schwab
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.
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.
My first encounter with V.E. Schwab’s work was her Shades of Magic series, and I immediately fell in love. So when I heard that her out-of-print debut was around the corner, I didn’t hesitate to hit that pre-order button. I knew I was in for a treat and I was not disappointed!
As the blurb says, this story is part fairy tale and part love story. The narrative centers around a young woman who lives in a small town, trapped by the expectations of the men around her, but aching to follow in her late father’s footsteps. She’s wise beyond her years, and living in that special point of adolescence/young adulthood where she hovers between relating to children and wanting to be an adult, taken seriously by her seniors. Add to that that the men in her life are dismissive of her ideas on the basis of her needing to stay in her place as a girl, and that makes for a great heroine with a righteous rebellious streak. Lexi doesn’t care what rules she has to break if it means saving the people she cares about.
The world of this book is one I didn’t want to leave. Its mythos, while simple, was so well-developed and immersive that it felt like it could be real. My favorite kind of fantasy is the kind that feels like it could be happening in real life, and fairy tales that manage to spin magic with a touch of realism are my kryptonite. It made me wish the story was longer, if only so I could spend more time in that world.
I think my favorite part of the story, however, was how the character that should have been the prince in shining armor was more of a damsel in distress. Lexi was very much in command, and though she had many forces acting against her, she never really needed saving, or felt helpless, and was fully capable of kicking ass and doing what needed doing. Cole, on the other hand, while valiant and brave, played more of the role of the person that needed saving. This story had the familiarity of a fairy tale, but has a unique spin to it I wasn’t expecting.
All in all, if you’re a fan of fairy tales (think Holly Black’s work), then this should definitely be your next read!
Like my review? Leave a comment with a book/movie/show you think I’d love!