Friday, January 10, 2014

Book Review: The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab (no spoilers)

Book: The Near Witch
Author: Victoria Schwab
Publication: August 2nd, 2011
Source: Local Library
Rating: 3/5 Stars
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

My Thoughts:
I do have to say this one showed that it was a debut novel. Although this was my first novel by Victoria Schwab so I can't judge based on her other work. I really debated writing a review over The Near Witch. I finished it at 1:00 am so I don't know how much I really enjoyed the novel. I really wanted to finish it before 2013 ended and even though it was technically 2014 I counted it as 2013 read.

The story in this novel was completely original yet it felt like the type of story that could be told around a campfire. A stranger comes to town and suddenly children are awakened from their bed and disappear in the night. Our main character Lexi, who is very headstrong is on a wild search to prove that the Stranger, Cole is innoccent while working with Magda and Dreska, Near's local witches, to find the children. Then the story of The Near Witch is woven in. A witch that is long gone, but maybe not as gone as the town's people think. The ending rang chills through my spine.

Although the summary I just gave above makes this novel super compelling it didn't quite meet my expectations I love fairy tales and magic. They are some of my favorite worlds to get lost in. I just didn't get that feeling with The Near Witch. I was always sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for more. I felt like there was too much time wasted telling Lexi she should not do this instead of Lexi on her quest to find the lost children of Near. I think Lexi was an excellent character. She was willing to do whatever it took to get the children back home safe and sound. I think Cole was an excellent character also. He was mysterious. He made me constantly wonder what secret he was hiding and he revealed it at just the right time.

I think maybe my rating reflects the pressure I put on myself to finish this novel. I really don't think I would have enjoyed it anymore given a few more days. I read it low pressure for a few days. I think the character development was excellent. I loved Lexi's love for her little sister Wren and her wiliness to do whatever it took to help the people of Near. I appreciated all the qualities Schwab put into her characters. I just think the story was not quite fast paced enough for me. I will be giving Scwab another try with The Archived which I hope to enjoy a bit more. If you enjoy old folk tales and legend give The Near Witch a try. The tale is entertaining and very much like the story I would imagine being told late into the night.



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