The Near Witch by V. E. Schwab is delightfully weird.
Published: 12th March 2019
Format: Hardback, 354 pages
Synopsis: 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. 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.
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.
I loved the moors. They way they were described, as being almost sentient was just magical. I have a small bit of common near my house and the way I view this bit of land is incredibly similar to the moors in this book. I didn’t feel much towards the town of Near; how the town kept to themselves was kinda quirky but other than that I didn’t really connect.
As with the majority of Schwab’s female characters, Lexi was strong, determined and the gender rules forced upon her only made her more rebellious. You can tell that it’s Schwab piece not only through the magical use of language and how her sentences are strung together with such purpose, but mostly through her characters which hold so much of her in them. I enjoyed the Sisters, I liked how they lead Lexi through the mystery, how they let her set things right (no doubt due to who her father was). There was a little ‘insta-love’ with Cole (our stranger) but I didn’t mind it. You need the light in a dark book such as this.
This book had a creepy element woven into it. Digging up bones, children being stoled in the dead of night, the wind singing old rhymes. If I wasn’t an adult of 26, I think I would definitely have been a little scared during some of the scenes. There was a lot of tension, and when you have a literal witch hunt on your hands, how can your heart not beat stupidly fast. I’m pretty sure I left indents on the hardback of this book from gripping it so tightly. And I guess you could even say that this book lends a message to those that read it. Fear is a dangerous thing to harbour, and people can do abhorrent things whilst under the influence of it.
It’s difficult to pin-point where this book fits within genres and ages. It’s a strange little book, very reminiscent of a fairytale. I almost wish I had this book back in A-Level Art when I was completing my final on Folklore & Fairytales, it would have put a different spin on it all and the imagery in this book could have lead to some interesting pieces. Anyway, this book gripped me. Right from the start I didn’t want to put it down. I loved the quirky-ness of the story and oddly enough, it’s a book I want to pass down to my own daughter. It’s a timeless story and thats what elevates this above all the rest.
“Fear is a strange thing,” he used to say. “It has the power to make people close their eyes, turn away. Nothing good grows out of fear.”
You can get your copy here