Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bookanista Thursday!: The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

(From the author's website)

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. 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.


I have an Official Policy of Skepticism about books. This means that I try to enter every book warily, so as not to let my own unreasonable expectations change how much I enjoy it. I had read a lot of good reviews of this book, but I refused to let them change the Official Policy of Skepticism. Luckily the book changed the Official Policy of Skepticism for me on the first page, because the voice was just so lovely. Observe:

"With the candles all lit, I shake the match and the flame dies, leaving a trail of smoke that curls up against the darkened glass." (6)

Ah, delicious.

Another success of this book is the atmosphere it creates. The claustrophobia of the town, the mysterious emptiness of the moor, the creepy-beautiful rhyming song sung by the children, it's all fantastic. This is one of those books in which the setting is like a character. (It also feeds my obsession with large stretches of empty land. I am, after all, a Midwest Enthusiast.)

I also found the story engaging. I adored the aforementioned "nameless boy," particularly the descriptions of his strange physicality, and Lexi, who is definitely not a pushover but not so badass it's unbelievable, given the kind of environment she grew up in, and her father, who is there only in Lexi's recollections, but nonetheless has a strong presence in the story. There also weren't any cackling, mustache-twirling villains here-- every character was more complicated than that, whether you liked them or not (and I often found myself vacillating, which I love).

Definitely recommended.


Check out the other Bookanista posts!

Elana Johnson gives a standing ovation for
Shannon Messenger talks up THE PLEDGE - with a
LiLa Roecker pines for THE GIRL OF FIRE AND
Cory Jackson falls for UNDER THE NEVER
Carolina Valdez-Miller gives some love to
Katy Upperman reccommends THE PLEDGE
Beth Revis interviews and has a giveaway for a signed copy of CROSSED by
Ally Condie


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