Title: The Near Witch
Author: Victoria Schwab
On the Shelves: Young Adult> Fiction/Fantasy
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 (Goodreads 2014)
Victoria Schwab is one of the most hyped up names via booktube and the blogosphere of 2013, along with Rainbow Rowell. So when I read the Archived (review here), and I wasn’t blown away, I was disappointed. Yes it wasn’t awful, but it also was certainly not the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow which everyone seemed to be saying it was. I picked up The Near Witch hoping that it would be a different story because of such a genre difference. Sadly I found much of the same.
Firstly, the setting and world building is beautiful. Schwab has that skill down to a T. I can easily picture the sleepy village of Near, possibly somewhere up in the Scottish highlands or Welsh fields. Unfortunately that seems to be the only positive thing I have to say.
The characters just fell flat with me, much like they did in the archived. Lexi and her sister Wren, constantly reminded me of Katniss and Prim from The Hunger Games, almost to a ridiculous amount. As did Lexi’s relationship with her mother and her recently deceased father, whom she had much favoured, loved and had been training her to “hunt”…. yeah. Hunger Games. I spent most of this book feeling bored, if I’m quite honest.
Next was the ever formidable “insta-love”. The same thing happened as within the Archived. I could understand them becoming friends which worked nicely but the second Schwab tried to give it any romantic feeling I just didn’t….feel it. I didn’t feel like there was any romantic vibe between them, just a lot of pretty words. I don’t know what it is, I experienced the same effect in the Archived between Mackenzie and Wesley.
I have been a little ruthless in my rating, I admit. It normally would’ve gotten a sympathetic three stars like Archived did, thinking “it’s a one off, maybe her other books are better”, but after being let down again and not being invested in any characters for a second time, I am a little annoyed. But since I actually struggled to finish this book due to boredom- I’m okay with giving it two stars (since with my ratings three stars means “it’s okay, I enjoyed it enough to easily finish it”.)
Despite Vicious getting a movie deal, I’m really on edge about even giving it a shot, mainly because I feel that one is definitely one where you need to be attached to the characters. I’m worried that I won’t be.