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THE NEAR WITCH by Victoria Schwab

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.

Title : The Near Witch
Author : Victoria Schwab
Series : The Near Witch (book one)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 279
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Titan Books
Release Date : March 12, 2019 (reprint)

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 

Hollis’ 2 star review

This was Schwab’s debut and it certainly reads like one.

While I like the concept of this story and enjoyed how it unfolded in the beginning, it did start to lose me because of the insta-quick romance and the various antagonists, particularly the one who was our main character’s age. Almost every character felt rather flimsy, to be honest, almost as insubstantial as the witch. The few exceptions were a few female characters; the lead wasn’t bad but I preferred the old crones of the town and the sense of sisterhood both in the family and that permeated the general atmosphere. It was a nice counterbalance to the fact that 98% of the male characters were terrible — I don’t mean terribly written but just terrible people.

What added an extra heaping of disappointment was the fact that the love interest was one of the the only male characters that didn’t quite suck and in the added bonus short story? Well. I had felt something for him in THE NEAR WITCH but in THE ASH-BORN BOY it sort’ve all faded away. Wasn’t a fan of that short.

I get the point was likely to just preserve the original and reprint, as opposed to revise something that once existed, but I think this could’ve been made so much better. And it’s a shame it wasn’t. This could’ve been great.

The setting and sordid history of it all gave me some Hocus Pocus meets Practical Magic vibes, but YA, and I was very into it. Schwab does well with imagery and description. But thankfully her characters have come a long way since these early days. I’m glad I read it, particularly having just revisited another early series of hers (which thankfully was just as good on reread), but this wasn’t quite it.

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