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.
Thanks to Titan Books for sending me an early copy in exchange for an honest review!
I’ve been a fan of V. E. Schwab for years now, so it was great to be able to read her debut novel. The Near Witch is very much rooted in what I’ve come to see as Schwab’s writing style – the eerie, dark mysteries, the strong lead, and the unique setting. It definitely read like one of her books and you can really see how she developed her style from it.
Although Lexi’s story was relatively short, I felt like she was an easily likeable and relatable character, and I’d love to read more about both her and the feared Near Witch. Lexi is living in the small, isolated town of Near, and although no date or year is specified it feels very much like a town stuck in the past. Lexi is expected to behave like a ‘proper young lady’ and settle down with a husband, but she’d much rather put on her fathers old worn boots and explore and unravel the mysteries surrounding her home. The entire story is set solely in Near and the moors and forest by it, however, the world building was still atmospheric and I could easily picture this quaint little town in the middle of the whispering moors. Living in Yorkshire, I very much pictured Near as being a little village nestled in the Yorkshire moors – it definitely read a lot like some of the places close to where I live (especially the idea of no strangers coming to the town and everyone knowing each other – I’m sure anyone living in a little English village can relate to this mindset!)
There was a romance side plot but I’m very happy to say that this definitely didn’t take over the main storyline of Lexi trying to discover Near’s hidden past and what’s happened to the missing children, plus Cole kept enough of the unknown about him for their bond to stay interesting.
Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and am so glad that it’s been able to be republished after being out of print! Fans of books with secretive small town mindsets, girls determined to break out of their prisons, dark magic, and of course, Schwab fans, you want to pick up this book!
lots of love,