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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.
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.
This highly atmospheric debut crackles with tension and has a shivery horror tang.
Lexi's late father taught her that witches are as good, bad and various as humans, so she trusts the witch sisters who live at the edge of her village; unlike most of the sullenly insular villagers, she doesn't blame a lurking stranger when children start disappearing. Each night, a village child hears the wind singing a tune and climbs out the window to play on the moor, vanishing before morning. Early on, the text is highly descriptive of the setting, dedicating almost too many words to the heathery moor hills and the wind that "sang me lullabies. Lilting, humming, high-pitched things, filling the space around me so that even when all seemed quiet, it wasn't." Soon, however, the wind and moor descriptions become retroactively crucial, weaving themselves into the content of the plot. As a mob mentality unfolds in the village, tracker Lexi works harder and harder to defend the stranger and find the children. Part mourning and healing tale, part restless ghost story, the strengths here are Lexi's sophisticated characterization (strong, sad, fiercely protective) and the extraordinary sense of place.
Set in an undefined past, this will appeal to fans of literarily haunting vibes and romance; readers who love it will go on toWuthering Heights.(Fantasy. 14-18)
Posted August 9, 2011
I'm afraid this is going to be another one of those reviews where I just won't do the book justice. Sigh. Yeah, it's that damn good. I feel like anything I put down here will just mar the beautiful prose Schwab wrote so brilliantly and lyrically.
Lexi is an AMAZING character. The kind of character that I want to be in books. The kind of girl I can get lost with, tag along with, and agree with everything she says, does, and thinks. She's smart, has common sense, and she looks at the world through not only realistic eyes, but poetic. She wants Near to be a peaceful, happy place, but she's not naive enough to trust in those who've let her down. No matter what. She stands up for what she believes. She's willing to break all the rules, and do what she must to protect those she loves.
Cole. Oh man, I love this guy. He's so not the typical lead guy I fall for, but everything about him is gentle and beautiful. But there's also a burning passion inside him, one that Lexi brings out, and one the peaks when he's faced with adversity. He's fierce when the moment calls for it, and he's brave and strong without even trying when he's tested. Humble. I guess that's the world I'm looking for. He's humbly amazing.
The plot held strong all the way through. I loved the pace of the story. I read slowly. I took my time, and even reread passages and moments between Lexi and Cole. The story started off with a dark, eerie feel, and I'm so happy that it stayed true till the end. Although there was no big twist, I loved that Schwab threw me a couple of times, and made my mouth hang open, shaking my head and saying, "NO!" So, yeah. A perfect read for me. I will definitely be reading it again soon.
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Posted August 2, 2011
Lexi has always been closer to her father, who taught her to creep after the red deer and to touch it without its startling, and to Magda and Dreska, who speak to the wind and the earth and seem older than time, than to her fellow villagers. And now that her father is dead, her younger sister barely remembers what their family was, and her mother has taken to kneading and baking bread endlessly to work out her sorrows, Lexi longs for nothing more than to be close to the moor the way Magda and Dreska are close to it-or closer, the way the first stranger to come to town in ages seems to be.
Then, when the town's children start disappearing in the whispering dark of the night, drawn out of their rooms by a wind that can speak their names, Lexi needs that closeness. She needs the moor to surrender signs of the children so she can track them; needs Cole, the stranger, with his burden of memory and his strange powers; and needs, most of all, to know the truth about the Near Witch. It might be the only way to save what's left of what she loves.
I couldn't put it down, and couldn't stop thinking about it once I did. Schwab's language is as subtle and irresistible as the wind on the moors, and the world she creates in this novel comes to life with suspense, romance, and redemption. I would recommend this book to fans of YA romance and literary fiction alike.
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Posted August 2, 2011
Victoria Schwab's lyrical debut wisks you back to the time you heard your first fairy tale, and knew without question, that magic was real. The characters, setting, and story of THE NEAR WITCH are woven together beautifully, a whispering enchantment that stays with you long after you turn the final pages. I was lucky enough to get a ARC of The Near Witch in 2010 and it turned out to be, by a mile, my favorite of the (many) books I read last year! Within two weeks of getting it, I read it twice! As I read it again today to celebrate it's release it will be the 6th time I've read it! Suffice to say this book managed to do two things that I have not had a book do in a very, very long time:
1) It so completely drew me in and entangled me in the world of the story that if someone had jumped out in front of me while I was reading and shouted "Quick! Tell me where you are?" it would have taken me a good minute or two to come back to reality and read adjust my brain to the point where I could answer correctly; and
2) at LEAST twice book had a moment so emotionally tense that I literally jumped up from my seat and didn't realize I was standing until the tense moment had passed.
This book is brilliant and you should read it as soon as you possibly can! Fair warning though, you probably want to set aside enough time to read the whole thing... this book will haunt you (in a fabulous OMG-what-is-going-to-happen-next kind of way) if you try to put it down before you finish it!
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Posted January 19, 2013
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.
Posted October 21, 2012
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Valerie
I read this for the first time about a year ago. I thought it was okay. A year later, I reread it and totally became obsessed with it. Basically, The Near Witch isn’t a book that you like immediately. It takes time and patience. Read it again during some other time, and I guarantee you’ll at least tolerate it. Trust me on this one, you won’t be disappointed.
There’s something about fairy tales that makes everyone happy. Yes, they may be childish, but hey, that’s why I read them! However, The Near Witch is a fairy tale that’s brought to a whole new level. (Yes, I do know I’m being extremely superficial right now…) It’s basically a creepy reincarnated witch meets kick butt heroine meets mysterious awesome guy meets a gorgeous story meets a whole lot of fantasy type of story. If you think about it, you don’t really get those types of books a lot. In other words, GO READ IT NOW. Yes, I mean now!
Lexi is strong and lethal and clever and simply one of those few kick butt heroines. Her father was a hunter, so he taught her the skill of being strong. Well, he also taught her how to track, but that’s not nearly as important. I love how Lexi never forgets about her father, but she isn’t bogged down by sadness either. She’s strong and balanced. She’s one of the characters that never annoy me at all, which is really impressive! In other words, she is a MONSTER but in a good way. She’s stubborn and determined, which is incredible!
One thing you should keep in mind is that while The Near Witch is in first-person, it’s the type of first-person that makes you think it’s in third-person. In other words, the wording is your present day wording. It feels timeless and a bit older, but it is so worth it. In my opinion, the writing style totally brings out the beauty of the fairy tale. You see, in other books, the author’s way too caught up in the action to focus on the finer parts of the story, the writing. However, Victoria Schwab actually handles the book like a pro (or a boss) and makes The Near Witch a masterpiece. It’s stunningly strong and delicate at the same time.
You know, some of the best books make you feel conflicted because you love it in spite of some issues it may have. The Near Witch may or may not be one of those books. That’s because you won’t know until you pick it up and start reading it! (See what I did there?) You know, if you’re still reading this review, you might want to stop… so you can read The Near Witch!
This review and more at openbooksociety dot com
Posted April 30, 2012
Lexi has heard the stories of the Near Witch her entire life. Her father made sure she knew the tales of what had happened in her town. As new children begin disappearing though, Lexi learns that what she knows may not have been the entire story. As her village is ready to punish the mysterious stranger that recently showed up, Lexi feels sure it wasn't him. Now she has to prove it, but that is going to be one of the hardest things she's ever done. Combine that with trying to protect the rest of the village children (including her younger sister), and Lexi has her hands full very quickly.
I found this to be a very entertaining book. I thought the author did an amazing job of creating a sense of atmosphere. You are very quickly pulled into this book, and you feel a sense of urgency for the characters. I loved that the story was as simple as it appeared. This book does a great job of showing what people can do when they feel threatened and scared. Their irrational behaviors can cause them and others problems. It also shows how things that were done in the past can come back to haunt you in various forms. Watching Lexi try to prevent a repeat of what happened before is very intriguing.
This book was a very quick read. I found it to be a bit spooky, and you feel Lexi's urgency throughout. I loved the fairy tale feel to the story. It almost feels like a dark fairy tale. I really enjoyed this book, and I think the author had a great writing style. Definitely check this book out!
Posted March 17, 2012
Posted February 28, 2012
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
Posted February 11, 2012
“The Near Witch” by Victoria Schwab is one of those books that takes you into the story. It is a very good book (I am so looking forward to the finished book). You go through everything the character, Lexi goes through and the village of Near, when the children start disappearing. It is a page turner and is very hard to put down—the final copy is going to be placed on my wish list—adding it to my collection. I read and reviewed an advanced copy for proof. I was hooked; the author has a gift for capturing her audience. This would be a good book to add to any Teen’s collection or any high school or public library’s Teen/YA Section.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 29, 2011
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.
Posted October 16, 2011
The Near Witch is the perfect blend of fairy tale romance, suspenseful urban legend and timeless adventure. Much like the wind at the center of the story, every word breathes to help create a eery setting and compelling plot.
Lexi is such a strong, likeable and believable heroine. She's comfortable in her own skin and never apologizes for her stubbornness, over curiosity or inability to following directions. Lexi's someone who feels as if she has to be the provider and protector of her family since her father's death, much to her uncle's dismay. She's not the kind of girl who would ever let the men do all the work or have all the fun. She just has such a fierce spirit and empathetic heart.
Then there's Cole. I adored everything about Cole as he's the perfect blend of wounded soul and dangerous warrior. He's certainly not the kind of character who goes searching for trouble but rather trouble finds him. He seems to be the shy, quiet boy but rather carries a calm, strength within him. I also love how there's nothing "bad boy" about him and yet he still feels quite dangerous.
The chemistry between Cole and Lexi is so electric that you could literally feel the heat, curiosity and growing attraction between them. While its easy to feel their connection, I do think that their feelings for each other grew incredibly fast. With that being said though, I never felt that their feelings weren't believable especially due to the heightened sense of danger and their growing isolation within the town. I also liked how they accepted each other at face value, never really question the others actions.
The pacing throughout the novel was perfectly done allowing a nice slow build towards the climax of the story. Starting only with a knowledge of a stranger within Near and a single missing child, the growing fear for the other children reaches a fever pitch making the town deeply paranoid and almost claustrophobic. This also allows every supporting character, such as the old sisters Magda & Dreska, to play a pivotal role heading into the conclusion of the novel, something you don't often see.
The novel doesn't have a standard villain so even though some characters aren't as likeable, Tyler and Uncle Otto for example, everyone believes that what they're doing (to help protect the town) is the right thing to do. This also allows the actual villain to be much more sinister and a far greater threat.
I really enjoyed the way in which the novel is wrapped up since it definitely had a sense of finality to it which was not only refreshing but felt exactly right. Sure to please any fan of YA fiction, The Near Witch is a novel you shouldn't miss and much like a song that gets stuck in your head, its also a novel you won't soon forget.
Posted September 4, 2011
Do you remember the movie Hocus Pocus? You know? With Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker... Sarah Sanderson sings to the children and they all come to her??? The Near Witch reminded me of Hocus Pocus - which is wicked fabulous because it remains to be one of my fav movies ever to this day!
In the town of Near a mysterious stranger shows up and then children start disappearing in the middle of the night... Lexi has to find out who is responsible for taking the kids, before her sister become one of the missing and prove Cole innocent before her Uncle shoots him for no other crime than being an outsider (therefore he must be blamed.)
Now "Cole" as Lexi has named him has quite the tragic history... NO. I will not tell you what it is, you must read the book, but you should probably have a few tissues handy. Just saying.
The people of Near are ready, willing and able to blame Cole for the children's disappearance. Lexi, however thinks it is the Near Witch calling the children from their beds each night... The only problem with her theory is that the witch has been dead for a loooong time.
You can't believe how this turns out!!! I am literally DYING to put spoilers all over this review!!! Just *ugh* because I can't say anything or I will give everything away!
Victoria Schwab has written a completely entrancing, romantic and suspenseful read in The Near Witch. Absolutely amazing! Never a dull moment in this utterly enchanting tale- I couldn't put it down! This is a MUST READ of 2011!
Posted August 31, 2011
Posted August 28, 2011
I really tried to love this book. It had everything going for it. But, there were just a few things that really kept me from enjoying as much as I wanted to.
I think Lexi's character was the most interesting part of this novel. She's the oldest of two girls who was raised by her father to be more like a boy. She was always told that she could do anything a boy could, and she could probably do it better. She was taught to not be afraid of the witch sisters who lived on the outskirts of the town. And above all, she was taught to respect the moor. When her father dies, her uncle takes his place (more as a man of the house) and spends a lot of time trying to control Lexi and make her into a proper young lady. I was happy to see that she resists him at very turn and that her mother doesn't give into the pressure. She also has a talent for tracking.
I also like Cole. A stranger that shows up in the middle of the night always adds an interesting twist to the story. Especially when children start disappearing from the beds in the middle of the night right after his arrival. I never believed he was involved. But, I liked watching the town freak out over his arrival. The mob mentality takes effect, and people start to say things that aren't true. It doesn't help the sisters are protecting him and the village as a whole or afraid of them. When they realize what he can do, there is absolutely no changing their minds on who the culprit really is. It's easier to believe a real flesh and blood person and not some mythical creature that may or may not have existed.
I loved the legend of the near witch. It fit into the whole time period beautifully. I just wish it would have stayed in the background. For some reason, I just didn't feel the story needed a paranormal element. I wanted someone in the village to be luring the children from the beds. Since witchcraft is such a prominent part of the story, it seemed completely feasible to me. I wanted the story to be more about the idea that a stranger might be more trustworthy than the neighbor you've known forever. It was also very slow at times. But, still a pretty good read.
Posted August 27, 2011
I Also Recommend:
Just by reading the synopsis alone I knew this was going to be a different kind of fairy tale. The idea behind it is different compared to a lot of books I've read lately and it was really refreshing. It has some of the best writing I've seen in a while. It is absolutely beautiful in many parts of the book. Descriptions and details make this book. It will feel like you are walking through the scenes with characters. The musical and story-telling attributes in this book will melt your heart.
The town's setting is a little different than what I am used to, but it really gives a great base for the story to build on. Lexi is a very genuine character; what you see is what you get with her. She has many personality traits that I admire: loyalty to herself and family, ingenuity, and resourcefulness. Her relationship with both her parents and sister is one to be admired by all. It also plays key parts in the plot of the book because of the lengths that her mother would go for her, the wonderful influence her father has on her life, and the absolute trust of her sister. On the other hand, Lexi's love interest and their relationship is interesting, but I'm not completely sold on it. It has its complexities, but is just slightly over the top. It is not something that I consider detrimental enough to drop a "sticky", but just enough for me to notice. A factor in this may be the length of the book. It's a short book compared to many others and I guess things just have to happen quicker.
I loved the concept and layout of this book. For the length of the book, there are many, many depths to it. The plot flows fluidly through the stories and songs of Near and keeps you entertained and glued till the last page. It has almost the perfect balance of romance, trials and tribulations, and creepiness that kept me mesmerized and enthralled. Yes, I said creepy. Was I expecting that? Ha. No. That was definitely a bonus for me. It fits so well in the plot, it's almost hidden...until it jumps out at you!
I could not recommend this book enough to everyone of all ages. It's storyline, details, mystery, and creepiness make for an amazing combination and a great read.
Posted August 20, 2011
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!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 18, 2011
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!
Posted August 4, 2011
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.
Posted August 3, 2011
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).
hings that make me happy: A good song. A fantastic story. Dreams. Romance. Beautiful words. Things that require the suspension of disbelief. Magic. Getting lost in a world that isn't my own. Hope, passion and the possibility that maybe, just maybe, the extraordinary can happen to the most ordinary people.
There are very few places in life these things all come together. The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab is one of them.
I've read a lot of books. A lot of books. I also love a lot of books. If you read my reviews regularly or have a conversation with me then you know that. But I say to you now that The Near Witch is one that will forever stand out to me as an wonderful novel. Why? Well, it has all those things I listed above, for one. For another, I wrote a freaking rap song about it. I wouldn't do that if I wasn't devoted. Thirdly, I love it. It's a flawless re-telling of a story you've heard before but never knew and something you'll never hear again. (I kinda stole that from the book flap---but it's so completely true.)
I talk a lot about writing in my reviews, about this ability that some authors to have to completely floor you and create a line that's so powerful it etches itself into your soul. Victoria Schwab does this extremely well. Her lines all so elegant, powerful and read with a grace that I could only dream of possessing. Every beautiful description is flawless and so vivid I felt as if I was there every second of the book, racing through the trees and listening to wind with Lexi. I could die just thinking about the world she so beautifully created. There's a good balance here between what we are told, what we see and what we get to make up ourselves that demands praise and attention.
The characters in The Near Witch are so incredible. They each have their own story, own actions and purpose. I love that they are all flexible. What does that mean? Schwab paints them all very distinctly, yet lets the reader create their own picture of what the character looks like. It's like Van Gogh or Picasso where it's unmistakably one thing, but it has the possibility to be something else. Every character in the story is like this--and they all jump off the page and into the heart. It lets them take on a life that's a little bit of what they were created to be, and a little bit your own.
Since I'm talking about characters, I need to mention my love for the sisters, Magda and Dreska, as they are two of my favorite characters in any book. I love their descriptions, their voice and role in Lexi's story, the mystery they bring with them and the wisdom that these two characters seem to carry. It's almost like Schwab pulled them out of the deep recesses of real life and placed in Near to offer guidance, snarky remarks and a sense that when all is hopeless, everything will be alright.
Another wonderful thing about The Near Witch is the romance between Cole and Lexie. I don't want to spoil anything, but it's a good romance. The best part about it is that it takes nothing away from the overall plot of the story, but it adds to it completely. The two of them together are a fantastic team and with everything happening around them, you can only root for this girl who wears muddy boots and this boy with a burnt robe. Their story will be one you want more of and when it's all over, you know they lived happily ever after because there's no way they didn't.
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