Book Review: The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

6 Nov

Click on the book cover for this title's Goodreads page!

Title: The Near Witch

Author: Victoria Schwab

Genre: Paranormal YA, Fantasy YA

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Published: August 2, 2011

Summary: A darkly romantic young adult novel about a sixteen-year-old girl who lives on enchanted moors. A strange boy arrives in her small village, and right away, children start disappearing.

THE NEAR WITCH was a beautiful, slightly creepy read that I could not put down. It enthralled me completely. Victoria Schwab’s language was lyrical and lovely, and the story was a wonderful confection that was somehow both comforting, familiar and old while also being gray, mysterious and new. Because we have no sense of the time or place of this story, it seems to exist in that always-time of fables and fairytales, stories that are so old and lovingly worn as to be woven into our cultural conscious. The moor on which the story is set was very atmospheric, and the village of Near seemed exactly the way it was described: small, tight-knit, isolated, and wary of change and new things. It was a great setting.
The characters, too, were great. Lexi was brave and smart and wonderfully sweet to her adorable sister Wren. Her uncle, Otto, was one of those conflicting characters who did things that made you scream but you always understood that his motivation was genuine and admirable. I enjoyed his character, and the way he interacted with Lexi, always butting heads with (at least one-sided) good intentions. Cole was a great character as well. Mysterious and wary, and then sweet and warm. I really liked him. His relationship with Lexi was great, but perhaps one of the weaker elements of the story, just slightly. Once it got going, it was wonderful, but it seemed to me to start a little out of nowhere. Also, some of the secondary characters seemed a little flat, especially the “bad guys.” Bo and Tyler were there only to be big jerks. Tyler, at least, had a little more story with his trying to snag Lexi, who had been his good childhood friend. But then he turned into a back-to-school-special crazy boyfriend guy, jealous and physical. He seemed on a few occasions like he could unhinge at any time. And Bo seemed like he was already unhinged in a crazy person kind of way, always smirking and looking creepy. They were just bad with nothing redeeming, unlike Otto, who did unlikeable things but had depth and was often conflicted about things.
Overall, though, THE NEAR WITCH was fantastic. Well- and beautifully written, with great atmosphere and history–I loved the folk histories and stories of Near and how tightly woven into the community they were. And the main characters were likable and well-rounded. I couldn’t put the book down, especially the closer the book got to its conclusion. Very well done and enjoyable.

4 Responses to “Book Review: The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab”


  1. In My Mailbox (7) « Tripping Over Books - December 18, 2011

    […] I WON a copy of The Near Witch, which I had gotten from my library and read already and LOVED (my review action), but THIS COPY is extra special because it has a narwhal stamp in it! […]

  2. Top Ten Tuesday (50) « - October 23, 2012

    […] atmosphere, Batman! THE NEAR WITCH is seriously one of the most atmospheric, creepy books I’ve read in a long time. It’s […]

  3. Tripping Over January « - January 1, 2013

    […] who exist as BOOKS?? I can’t even. It just sounds so clever and, if it’s anything like THE NEAR WITCH, a little dark and gorgeous, […]

  4. Top Ten Tuesday (57) « - January 2, 2013

    […] #1 by Victoria Schwab. I love Victoria Schwab. I was really impressed and pleased with her debut, THE NEAR WITCH. But this new series she’s starting about a world where people become books when they die, […]

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