Title: The Near Witch Author: Victoria Schwab Format: Hardcover, 288 pages Publisher: Hyperion Books CH Release Date: August 2nd, 2011 Rating: 5 out of 5 HEARTS
ARC received from Disney Hyperion for review
Synopsis from Goodreads 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.
Shannon's Always Spoiler-Free* Review(*unless otherwise noted) The Near Witch is the perfect blend of fairy tale romance, suspenseful urban legend and timeless adventure. Much like the wind at the center of the story, every word breathes to help create a eery setting and compelling plot.
Lexi is such a strong, likeable and believable heroine. She's comfortable in her own skin and never apologizes for her stubbornness, over curiosity or inability to following directions. Lexi's someone who feels as if she has to be the provider and protector of her family since her father's death, much to her uncle's dismay. She's not the kind of girl who would ever let the men do all the work or have all the fun. She just has such a fierce spirit and empathetic heart.
Then there's Cole. I adored everything about Cole as he's the perfect blend of wounded soul and dangerous warrior. He's certainly not the kind of character who goes searching for trouble but rather trouble finds him. He seems to be the shy, quiet boy but rather carries a calm, strength within him. I also love how there's nothing "bad boy" about him and yet he still feels quite dangerous. I really enjoyed Cole's interacted with the sisters (Magda & Dreska) since he really looks to them for guidance.
I really enjoyed all the scenes between Cole and Lexi because they were always so electric. You could literally feel the heat, curiosity and growing attraction between them and although I did instantly feel the connection, I do think that their feelings for each other grew incredibly fast. With that being said though, I never felt that their feelings weren't believable especially due to the heightened sense of danger and their growing isolation within the town. I also liked how they accepted each other at face value, never really question the others actions.
The pacing throughout the novel was perfectly done allowing a nice slow build towards the climax of the story. Starting only with a knowledge of a stranger within Near and a single missing child, the growing fear for the other children reaches a fever pitch making the town deeply paranoid and almost claustrophobic. This also allows every supporting character, such as Magda & Dreska, to play a pivotal role heading into the conclusion of the novel, something you don't often see.
The novel doesn't have a standard villain so even though some characters aren't as likeable, Tyler and Uncle Otto for example, everyone believes that what they're doing (to help protect the town) is the right thing to do. This also allows the actual villain to be much more sinister and a far greater threat.
I really enjoyed the way in which the novel is wrapped up since it definitely had a sense of finality to it which was not only refreshing but felt exactly right. Sure to please any fan of YA fiction, The Near Witch is a novel you shouldn't miss and much like a song that gets stuck in your head, its also a novel you won't soon forget.