Written by: Victoria Schwab
Released: August 2, 2011 by Hyperion Books
Summary: 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.
I finished reading this novel on the way to New York City for BEA 2011 and I was incredibly happy that I was able to finish it before I got there because the entire week I read absolutely nothing.
Ok, that’s a bit of a lie since I read the beginning of Bunheads by Sophie Flack while I ate lunch one day and I read a little bit of Deadline by Mira Grant at some point because I couldn’t help myself. But the point is that, other than that I had no time or will to read.
Anyway, I was able to finish reading this particular novel on my flight from Ottawa to Detroit and it made the time in the air go by so incredibly fast. This was a great novel; it really captured my attention and had me wondering what the heck was going on the entire time. Plus, I loved the old-school fairy tale aspect to it with the witches and teaching lessons. From this novel I learned not to jump to conclusions and not to piss off a really powerful witch.
Now, this isn’t a fairy tale retelling (as far as I know), but it really did capture the feeling of the original versions of fairy tales. There was magic, kidnapping, fight scenes, and a Big Bad to contend with. Actually, as I was reading it I couldn’t help but continually think of the movie The Brothers Grimm. I’m not going to spoil anything, but there were several similarities between the two. They are two very different stories, though, so don’t think that you can pass up reading this novel if you’ve seen that movie.
Lexi was one kick-ass female character. I loved how she listened to herself and stuck to her guns while everyone around her was telling her something different. I also adored how devoted she was to both her mother and her sister. She also carried around a big knife and wore men’s work boots with the toes stuffed so that they didn’t slip off. If I ever found myself living in the town of Near, I would want to definitely be on her good side.
The witches in this novel are fantastic too. Starting with the Near Witch, I could completely feel her pain and in my mind I could slightly justify what she was doing. Next are the sisters Magda and Dreska. These were two hard women who had hearts of complete gold even though people were afraid of them and mistrusted them. I loved how they were protectors of Near (even though they weren’t necessarily wanted), and how they did everything they could to make sure that children weren’t taken.
But of course, the most amazing witch was Cole. Powerful abilities aside, he was smouldering and I loved the romantic beginnings between him and Lexi. Their relationship was so sweet and even though it happened incredibly fast, it still seemed natural (to me) within the realm of the story.
In all, this was great and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves a good fairy tale. Also, it’s a debut YA novel for this year that should definitely be added to your list if you haven’t already. In short, ‘m giving it an 8/10.
This was a review eARC copy provided by Hyperion Books through netGalley for an honest review.