Customer Reviews for

The Near Witch

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 15 review with 4 star rating   See All Ratings
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  • Posted January 19, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    The first thing that caught my eye about The Near Witch was the

    The first thing that caught my eye about The Near Witch was the title. It was mysterious and I’ll admit that it did pique my interest. I wanted to know who or what the Near Witch is exactly and from how creepy the cover was (and I mean creepy in a good way) I had a feeling that the plot of the novel would be one that would keep me on the edge of my seat and keep me guessing. I was totally right. What really had me sold on The Near Witch were some of the praise that I saw for the novel and considering that author Carrie Ryan (whose Forest of Hands and Teeth series is one of my all-time favorite series ever) had me dying to read the first page and right from the very first sentence I was hooked.

    The Near Witch is the story of main character Lexi who lives in the town of Near. Near is a circular shaped town where everybody knows everybody and it’s no secret that there are two witches living in Near. It isn’t a secret that there are absolutely no strangers allowed in the town of Near. So, when Lexi sees a strange boy outside of her house who seems to vanish into thin air and a child goes missing the very next day, everybody seems to think that it has to have been the stranger to have stolen the child away. Lexi doesn’t think it is. The children in town are all at risk and when Lexi, who rebels against how a woman is supposed to act in Near, takes it to herself to uncover just what is happening to the children she finds herself confiding in the stranger accused of taking the children; Cole.

    Cole who is tall, dark and handsome and not who Lexi thinks he is. The same Cole who did something so terrible to his village that it burned down and forced him to go on the run. Lexi and Cole search for the children and soon come to the conclusion that it must be the Near Witch herself who is stealing the children away. But how when the Near Witch is nothing more than a tall tale told to children? Lexi and Cole soon learn the Near Witch was a very real person who was killed and has come back from the grave to exact her revenge on the town of Near.

    What I loved most about the novel was that it got straight to the point. Within the first few pages we were already exposed to the frightening story about the Near Witch who once lived in the moor and could control the wind and the earth. Shortly after that we get our first glimpse of Cole and are introduced to Lexi’s family. Lexi doesn’t have a father, she has only her mother, her uncle Otto and her little sister Wren. Within the first four chapters author Victoria Schwab’s writing style had me swept away in a sea of emotions, her writing style blew me away with how perfectly every sentence flowed into the next and the descriptors used had me grieving Lexi’s father and also getting more and more protective of her younger sister, all the while I started to despise her bossy uncle.

    In The Near Witch, there is a ton of romance. Not only is there Tyler who used to be Lexi’s friend and is upset because she doesn’t reciprocate his romantic advances and shows no sign in wanting to be his wife, but there is also the budding relationship between Lexi and Cole. Right from the start, I was falling in love in Cole just because he was such an enigma of a character for me and because I think that forbidden romances are the best. Considering that everybody in Near wants Cole dead more and more with each child that is taken, the forbidden romance aspect of the novel was getting more and more intense.

    Fans of the supernatural would definitely enjoy The Near Witch for the witches that are found in the novel. They aren’t the kind who are sitting over a cauldron concocting ways to get rid of their green flesh, mind you, but they did hold abilities that were fun for me to imagine. My main favorite would be being able to control the earth simply because it seems like the most useful of the bunch. I would recommend The Near Witch to readers who want a haunting tale that you will not want to put down, fans of forbidden romances (and supernatural romances) will fall in love with this novel and those of us who are just looking for a well written story will love love love The Near Witch.

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  • Posted February 28, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    An atmospheric blend of folktale conventions and spooky details.

    There are certain truths in Near: The Near Witch is an old story to frighten children, nothing more. The wind is lonely and always looking for company. There are no strangers in the town Near.

    For all of her life, sixteen-year-old Lexi has known those three things to be true from the town, from her life, and from the stories her father told her.

    What happens when two of those truths turn out to be wrong?

    Soon after a stranger arrives in Near, children begin to disappear. Lexi knows they can't be connected--even though the boy seems to fade like smoke--not when she feels so sure of him.

    But someone is taking the children. And Near wants someone to blame. They do not need to be the same person, especially when the most likely culprit is more legend than person.

    Time is running out and Lexi isn't sure if she'll be able to find the children while keeping the stranger safe in The Near Witch (2011) by Victoria Schwab.

    The Near Witch is Schwab's first novel.

    Schwab's writing is lyrical and immediately brings to mind traditional fairy tales with all of their charm and danger. The story expertly builds tension as Lexi searches both for the missing children and the truth about Near and its infamous witch. With so much mystery surrounding Near and so much suspense, the story fast becomes a page turner urging readers from one haunting scene to the next.

    Although there is (a tiny bit of) a love story amidst the talk of witches and missing children, Lexi remains a strong heroine with her own resolve and a whole lot of spunk. With the combination of lots of paranormal elements and not too much romance, The Near Witch fills a need for spooky, exciting stories that don't start and stop with the main character's romance.

    The Near Witch is an atmospheric blend of folktale conventions and spooky details. Although the novel takes place on the sparse moor landscape, the story is filled with distinctive characters and memorable moments. The resulting novel is a satisfying choice for readers looking for both fairy tale magic and ghost story chills.

    Possible Pairings: Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Plain Kate by Erin Bow, Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones

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  • Posted November 29, 2011

    A fun fairy tale

    What I Liked: 1) This book has a timeless quality to it. It's set in a time before computers, phones, electricity, even. But don't try and decipher what time it is set in. It's is a product of pure and unadulterated imagination. The same with the small town of Near. You couldn't find it on a map, so don't try. It's lovely to be whisked away into this simple little place with a rich and vibrant tale. 2) Imagery. This book is rife with visual imagery that really enhanced the beautiful language. 3) The Fairy Tale. Remember those bedtime stories that you were told as a kid? This reminded me of stories like that. It was simple, and complex at the same time, if that makes any sense! The story itself was a simple tale of good versus evil, but the overlying themes stretched it into a more complex story about being accepting of new things, ideas, and people. And of course, magic. 4) The mystery. There was a great mystery involved that kept me hooked more than anything else. I wanted so badly to know what was going to happen that it really kept the pages turning. 5) Lexi. I really loved her protectiveness towards her sister Wren. Call it a big sisterly thing, but I really understood her desire and need to protect her.

    What I Didn't Like: 1) Well, did Cole have a name? I mean, Lexi gave him that name and he said at one point that it wasn't his name, but then he never told her his real name. That's not a real complaint, but still. I continue to wonder. 2) The love story felt a little out of place. I think I'm alone in thinking this, but it was the only part of the story that felt at all disjointed.

    Overall thoughts: This was a fun fairy tale, and took me back to the days of bedtime stories and multiple cups of water. I think people of all ages can enjoy this sweet story with it's vivid characters and timelessness. Get ready to be caught up in the small town of Near, alongside Lexi and a mysterious stranger as they attempt to save the town's children.

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  • Posted August 20, 2011

    Beautifully Written

    The thing I loved most about this book was the writing. Schwab has the ability to choose the exact right word to make your heart ache, or your breath stop, or to send a shiver down your spine. Though nothing terribly scary happens in this witch book, I was blown away by how often goosebumps swam across my skin. Every scene is an essential part of the story, and not a single page, not a single sentence, is wasted. THE NEAR WITCH is a spooky story you'll have to finish by candlelight. Bravo!

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  • Posted August 18, 2011

    Review: The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

    Remember the days of fairy tales and childhood bedtime stories? In The Near Witch, Victoria Schwab takes this idea and spins a book from it, creating a haunting tale that seems to transcend time and place.

    Passed down through the generations, The Near Witch is a legend of something that happened long ago in Near, a story of how good triumphed over evil and the town was made safe. Or so everyone thinks. The witch has long since been dealt with, and now there are no strangers (or witches) in Near. Then one night, Lexi sees a mysterious boy from her window - a boy that she's never seen before. When children start disappearing, Lexi knows she has to find this boy. Using the tracking skills taught to her by her father, Lexi locates him. But once she does, she knows that he is innocent. Yet more children are disappearing, and the town is all too eager to blame the stranger. Lexi realizes she has to uncover the truth about the stranger, as well as find the children, before it is too late. She will have to rely on what her father taught her as well as two village women who might, just maybe, be witches. But can she save everyone in time?

    The thing I loved the most about this book was the quality of writing. It was unlike anything I had read before, so lyrical and effective at creating an atmosphere that I could not help but be transported to another world. The setting was beautifully crafted; if you have seen or heard Brigadoon, I imagine that the moor in this story has many similarities: an almost magical quality, an air of mystery, and a hidden danger. Woven into this setting and legend were the characters themselves. Lexi was not afraid to challenge authority, make her own decisions, and do what needed to be done to protect her sister. Then there is Cole, the quiet stranger whose past and whose love for Lexi made him completely endearing. I also enjoyed seeing Lexi's interactions with her mother and how things changed over time.

    However, the one issue I did have with this book was the romance between Lexi and Cole. Although it was by turns sweet and intense, I missed something in the development. I wanted a little bit more buildup, or maybe more information about Cole, before things started happening. That being said, the romance is a nice balance with the increasingly darker, spooky vibe that comes toward the end of the book.

    A story in which the mood evoked is just as important as the characters and the plot, The Near Witch blended poetry, songs, spells, and proverbs into one unique whole. It is a fantastic debut novel, and I cannot wait to see what Schwab writes next!

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  • Posted August 4, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great book!

    What I liked most about this book is the mystery of it. Here you have a small town with lots of stories of The Near Witch. Children sing songs of it, people whisper about it. But what really happened? I like that the author wrote such a detailed and well presented story to the reader. The reader is presented with this great illusion, that you have no idea what is going to happen. With so many great plot twist and turns, the reader is gasping for their dear life!

    The story line of this book kept me on my toes. I always like it when an author keeps me crawling after the bread crumbs she drops. As I continue to follow the bread crumbs, Ms. Schwab filled my appetite with lots of new characters, elements of magic, and lost children that are no where to be found. The reader is able to feel the mysterious of the near witch and the small town that hold the secrets.

    The characters in this book were well developed. I love that the main character, Lexi, is strong and determined. Just like her father, she sets out to find out what is happening to the missing children. She uncover webs of lies, deceitful townsmen, and one heck of an angry witch. I like that she had help in the most unlikely place. She didn't follow rules or take orders from anyone. She stood strong and fought, even is she was alone.

    The Near Witch is an upstanding, worthy witch book. Told like no other, The Near Witch will ground you with fear and hold you tight. Want a good witch story? Then read this one. With Ms. Schwab's masterful writing, this book will captivate you to follow the bread crumbs to a great story.

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  • Posted August 3, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Absolutely enchanting!

    When I began reading The Near Witch, I wasn't sure that this was a book that I was going to enjoy or even be able to get through. It sounded intriguing enough, but I was quite wary. I loved being proved wrong every minute of reading this. The Near Witch is an enchanting tale of magic, family, and first love set against a small-town backdrop of suspicion and fear.


    Enter the town of Near--an undefined, historical town settled in the moors, where the wind sings through the windows and the people live in fear of those things unknown. When a stranger arrives in the town, there is an immediate panic, which escalates as children begin disappearing from the beds in the dead of night. Could this stranger be to blame? For most of the villagers, he is the obvious person--and the easiest--to blame. But Lexi believes otherwise; she will go to great lengths to prove this stranger's innocence.


    Lexi was a character that I liked from the very beginning. Her tomboyish nature and clear, unwavering love for her mother and sister (and deceased father) combine to create a lovable, real main character. I especially connected with her profound desire to protect her sister--a natural response between close sisters. Lexi is the type of character who knows what she wants/believes and doesn't waver from those things. She proves this over and over again during the hunt for the children--never wavering in her belief that it wasn't the stranger, never giving up searching despite set-backs. She was strong and courageous, even in those moments when the reader was allowed a glimpse of her loving nature and true despair at her father's death.


    The stranger, whom Lexi names Cole, is intriguing throughout and I never quite knew what to make of him. Don't take that the wrong way--I thought he was perfectly done. The "strangeness" of him complemented the town of Near and it's fear of the outside. His friendship with Lexi stood to complement the situation more and more as she struck out on her own to find the children, even when the people of Near didn't believe her. Now, I will say that the romance between the two seemed to pop up out of nowhere. I saw it coming in a sense, but I thought that it progressed at an interesting, slightly too sudden tempo. I liked them together, but they didn't have enough to get to know each other before that first kiss pops up.


    Overall, Ms. Schwab has written a truly stunning novel, one that I can't wait to buy for myself and read over and over again (and maybe pass along to kids someday).

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  • Posted July 24, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Haunting and Poetic

    The story of the Near Witch is just a story told to frighten children. Lexi knows this. She's heard the story her entire life. She's heard the story so many times it is engrained in her memory, and she often tells the story to her younger sister before she goes to sleep. One night, after tucking her sister in, Lexi notices the strange figure of a boy standing outside her home. The boy appears to flicker in the wind and eventually disappears right before her eyes. While most people in the town of Near would be frightened, Lexi is intrigued. She was always told by her late father that not all witches are evil. Like humans, they can be good or bad. So, when the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, Lexi tracks down the boy and enlists him in helping her find the children before the townsfolk begin blaming the witches.

    As more children disappear, the townspeople become more and more unsettled and the truth behind the legend of the Near Witch is questioned. Is she really only a myth? Can Lexi find the children and learn the mystery of the strange boy before it's too late?

    I probably shouldn't have read The Near Witch right after reading Chime. While both are totally different stories, and both authors have completely different writing styles , I couldn't help but compare the two books to one another at first. In the beginning, I felt Ms. Schwab's writing was too flowery and poetic, but halfway through the story I realized that this style perfectly fits the tone of the book. It gives the reader a sense of floating through the story. I felt the characters were strong and I was completely caught up in the mystery surrounding the missing children and the Near Witch. There's a definite haunting vibe to both the story and the prose. I highly recommend it.

    (Review based on an advanced reader's copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley)

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  • Posted July 18, 2011

    Beautifully Written

    The The Near Witch is described as being "part fairy tale, part love story," and that is right on point. The story has many elements of a classic fairytale: an isolated village set the past and steeped in folklore, a haunted area (in this case, a moor that borders the village), magic and of course, love. Victoria Schwab's writing is beautiful and lyrical. The characters are rich and well rounded and the setting spooky and perfect for the story.

    Lexi is a great main character. She is smart, resourceful, loving and protective of her family. She chooses to be a tracker and hunter, like her father, instead of a more traditional role for a girl in her village. She is also a sleuth determined to find out what is happening to the missing children instead of jumping to conclusions and blaming the stranger for taking them. Cole, aka the stranger, is a wonderful mixture of strength and vulnerability, I loved him! The relationship between Lexi and Cole is very sweet and one of my favorite parts of the book, second only to Ms Schwab's writing. I did find Lexi's memories of her father's worshipful reverence of the moor to be very spooky mainly because I found the moor to be very spooky.

    I was a good girl and did not skip ahead to find out the answers to the book's mysteries and am so happy that I waited. The Near Witch is easily a standalone book. It has a nice, steady pace and picks up at the end for satisfying conclusion.

    Content: Kissing and some violence.

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