Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Near Witch - Victoria Schwab

The Near Witch book cover
The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Publication Date: August 2, 2011
Source/Format: BEA 2012 || Paperback

"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. (from Goodreads)

I'm fairly obsessed with fairytales, so it's no surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed The Near Witch. This beautiful little novel reads like a fairytale, which is fitting as it primarily revolves around the elements of an old wives tale told in the story. It was an absolutely lovely reading experience, and it was easy to be consumed by this compelling, quiet story.

The reason I was immediately drawn to this story was that I found the writing incredibly beautiful. Victoria Schwab has a wonderful way with words. She used just enough description to make scenes and characters and settings vivid, but matched it with a brevity that made sure this wouldn't be overwhelming. I lost myself in the nuances of her writing, and that's always a wonderful thing when you're reading a book.

I liked reading about Lexi, and not just because we share a name. She's a decidedly good character at heart, as she tries to be obedient, to make her mom happy and to take care of her baby sister. She loved her father a whole lot, and chooses to honor his memory by surrounding herself with reminders of him. It made me smile to see that she was also not your typical girl - mostly because she was extra adventurous, inquisitive and determined to follow in her father's footsteps. It's easy for heroines like Lexi to find a special spot in my heart, and that certainly was the case.

The story involves a lot of interesting things, like visions and illusions and magic, and all these things add up to create a mysterious, atmospheric tale. There are many little details that seem unrelated at the very start, but eventually, they're all woven together into an explanation in the end. I was fascinated by how things played out, as most of them did not go the way I expected them to. I love when I absolutely cannot predict anything about a book - and The Near Witch certainly delivered for me in that sense.

Finishing The Near Witch was like having the perfect cup of coffee in the morning - it left me feeling relaxed and satisfied. While the writing may not have the same effect on other readers, I thought it was beautiful and fitting, and I absolutely adored it. Victoria Schwab has created something very special with this story, and I'm eager to experience more of her writing in the future.

31 comments:

  1. So I've had this book sitting on my shelf for over a year & have yet to read it. Why? I don't know. It's always grabbed my attention, but for whatever reason keeps getting lost in the pile of books. Oh dear. Your praise for the writing has reminded me to dig it out, though!

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    1. It's a quietly beautiful book, so it actually needs to be read when you feel like reading it. I hope you enjoy it when you get the opportunity to read it!

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  2. Even though I'm not crazy about books with witches, I do like to read books that are akin to fairy tales. That being said, I'd love to read it sometime soon. Your wonderful review has definitely spoken to me!

    Sana @ artsy musings of a bibliophile

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    1. Oh wow, thank you! I'm glad that you feel like you want to give this one a try.

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  3. I'm so glad you loved it! The writing is so elegant and beautiful. It reminds me so much of how fairy tales were told way back when.

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    1. YES. I feel like I'm a kid being told a bedtime story by my parents ;)

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  4. This sounds like a really good book! I love books full of magic and atmospherical delight. And anything compared with my morning cup of coffee MUST be good. :)

    Great review, Alexa!

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    1. It just had the same effect that coffee does on me, so I thought I'd mention that! But I do hope you get the chance to read and experience it for yourself :)

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  5. Yay!! I'm so glad you loved it! :D I completely fell in love with Victoria Schwab's writing and also felt that it read like a fairytale :) I loved how creepy the Near Witch herself was and I just got lost in this world :)

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    1. RIGHT? I'm convinced I must read The Archived NOW to experience more of Victoria's amazing writing.

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  6. "Finishing The Near Witch was like having the perfect cup of coffee in the morning - it left me feeling relaxed and satisfied." <---I love this! I can't think of a more perfect endorsement for a book. Such a great review for this beautiful, creepy book!

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    1. Thank you for your kind words! I love how everyone can relate to that line ;)

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  7. Beautiful review. Her writing is so melodic, almost like the wind lulls the characters in the book. I was swept away in the tale. No twists or turns, just a beautifully crafted tale.

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    1. I LOVED what you said about how her writing is melodic, because it really is. I was just lulled into relaxing and enjoying and immersing myself into the story.

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  8. I'm really really pleased you liked this one, Alexa! It's the first Victoria Schwab book I read, and I went on to enjoy The Archived recently. V's writing is gorgeous and ethereal, and really pulls you in and wraps you up. Seriously, her way with words! I love how you described this one as "like having the perfect cup of coffee in the morning." There really is just that SENSE, that FEEL to it that I had trouble describing in my review, but you may have gotten it right!


    I, too, liked Lexi. For a spooky, yet simple story, The Near Witch was elegant, and had a terrific cast of characters. Lexi reminded me a little bit of Katniss from The Hunger Games, and I really enjoyed reading about her.

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

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    1. I'm so excited to read The Archived (which I own). If my feelings for The Near Witch are any indication, I'm going to be swooning over her writing!

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  9. The Near Witch sounds amazing! Fairy tales, unpredictable ending, beautiful writing... I need to read this *now.* Thanks for the awesome review!

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  10. I love books that are fairy tale-esque, particularly when they're NOT retellings, and so something new and different. I've heard only the most wonderful things about the writing in this book, and the fact that you found it unpredictable is a huge bonus. I have a lovely copy sitting on my shelf--obviously I need to get to it!

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    1. It's definitely a lovely book! I totally love books that remind me of fairytales :)

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  11. I'm happy you loved this book, because I loved it too. The fairytale-ish feeling was great, since I'm obsessed with them. I liked Lexi a lot. She made me smile a lot with her actions :) You should definitely read the short novella (the ash-born boy) because I thought it added something to this story :)

    Great review!
    Mel@thedailyprophecy.

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    1. I was wondering if I should read the novella! I'm very curious about it, but now you've made me think I ought to read it and see what I gather from it ;)

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  12. This is a book that hasn't really ever caught my eye for some reason although I've only heard great things about it. I tell you, though, seeing this: "Finishing The Near Witch was like having the perfect cup of coffee in the morning..." makes me reconsider because there is NOTHING better than a good cup of coffee. That is some high praise, Alexa!

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    1. That may be my favorite line in my entire review, lol. But seriously, that is how I felt after reading this book - and considering I was in a cramped economy seat on a plane, that's definitely saying a lot!

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  13. I loved this author's writing in THE ARCHIVED, so I definitely need to pick this up--especially after you compared this to a fairy tale! :) Nicely reviewed.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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  14. Beautiful Cover and it sounds like a good book. I would like to read The Archived by this same author.

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  15. I've had my eye on The Near Witch for a while now, and even through all the recent hype with The Archived, I just really want to read The Near Witch. I'm glad that you enjoyed it so much. It sounds like the type of book I'd enjoy as well, especially since I love fairy-tale retellings, and it's good to hear that her story seems to fit in with the general fairy-tale tradition so well.

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    1. I also have The Archived, but I decided to read this first to see how I liked Victoria's writing. And I absolutely LOVED it!

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  16. This book has been sitting on my shelf for awhile now and you're making me wanna grab it and give it a read! I def need something different and I love it when a book leaves me surprised and in awe. Great review!

    Vivian
    Confessions of a Vi3tBabe
    Deity Island

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    1. It's so beautifully written. And I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it! It's really told well.

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  17. This book sounds like it will be an incredible read! I don't know why I haven't picked it up before. It has been quite some time since I've read a fairytale or fairytale-like book so I will hopefully be able to read it sometime soon. It sounds great!

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    1. I hope you get a chance to read it, as it's a wonderfully done book :)

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