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.
A huge thank you to Titan Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
This is Schwab’s debut novel and since I adore her other books so much, I knew straight away I had to read this. Just like her other stories, it was wonderfully creative and beautifully written. The reason why Schwab is one of my favourite authors is because she writes such unique stories with such captivating characters and I can see now that she has always had a knack for it.
My favourite part about The Near Witch was the setting and the atmosphere. The fact that the plot revolves around missing children, a vengeful witch, and a mysterious strange boy with supernatural abilities, definitely made for a chilling story. And of course, what is a story about witches without the presence of a moor where quite a lot of scenes take place. Schwab’s descriptions of the moor were so unsettling; she made everything sound so spooky and otherworldly.
Cole was my favourite character by far and part of me thinks this book would have been so much better if he was the narrator. He was a really intriguing and mysterious character, with, of course, a tragic backstory. I instantly took a liking to him and I loved that he had a supernatural ability/gift (but not really gift to him). He was so kind and caring despite everything that had happened to him. Even though everyone in the village was blaming him for the children going missing, he still wanted to help them and put an end to it all.
One thing I didn’t like with Lexi and Cole was the insta-love. Unfortunately as soon as Lexi met Cole she believed he was innocent despite not knowing anything about him and they had like an instant connection. I was a bit taken aback by it and surprised that Schwab chose to include an insta-love but I did like them together by the end so it wasn’t too bad.
As well as the Near Witch, there’s two other witches, Dreska and Magda. They had a strong presence in the story and I really liked them but I was disappointed that they didn’t really do much. I would have liked to see them in action rather than being told they were powerful once upon a time. I did like how Schwab went with the view that we fear what we don’t understand as they were both shunned and cut off from the rest of the village because of what happened with the Near Witch.
Sadly I was a little disappointed with the plot. Around halfway through I noticed there was a pattern and the same things kept happening: another child disappeared and Lexi, along with the help of Cole, would sneak out at night and look for the missing children. I would have liked things to be shaken up a bit but that just seemed to be the main plot and I didn’t find it very engaging. Also I would have liked some mundane scenes thrown in there like eating, sleeping and showering because Lexi was a human after all and never seemed to eat or sleep! I don’t know where she got all her energy from because she was constantly running around looking for clues as to where the children might be.
Even though I didn’t enjoy The Near Witch as much as Vicious and A Darker Shade of Magic, it was still a wonderful story and I have fallen in love with another one of her characters which isn’t surprising!