The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab Book Review
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The Near Witch tells the story of a town on the moors. A town called Near where the inhabitants are superstitious about anything different. And that superstition caused them to make a horrible choice years ago. One that will come back to lure their children away during the night and punish them for their misguided deeds. But instead of believing in the old tales spoken of the Near Witch, they focus instead on a stranger. One who arrived in town the day their children began to disappear.
The town of Near is steeped in tradition and aside from Lexi and her late father, the townsfolk would rather keep things the same than try anything new. When Cole takes up residence with the local witch sisters, it causes quite a stir. The allure of a mysterious new boy entices Lexi to find him before her uncle and the other narrow-minded individuals of Near can.
Cole is a boy with a tragic past, one that forced him to shut himself off from most people. Readers will be drawn in as Lexi slowly breaks down his insecurities and gains his trust. While it may be a bit cliche, watching the evolution of Cole as a character was extremely satisfying. Any time a character has the chance at a better life and is forced to fight for it, I’m hooked. The way he gradually opened up to his abilities, and how they in turn allowed them to grow closer to the end goal of finding the children was wonderful.
However, there was a lot of back and forth in this story. Lexi would consistently revisit the same locations instead of readers having enough time to immerse themselves fully in each scene. Being that this was the first book Victoria Schwab wrote, I can understand the use of travel as a way to stretch the time spent solving the mystery. But where the story may have felt a bit imbalanced with the sense of time passing, the characters more than made up for it.
Despite Lexi’s father passing away prior to the beginning of the story, Victoria Schwab forms a wonderful bond between Lexi and her departed father. Many of Lexi’s actions bring back memories of her father and the townsfolk also provide subtle hints about the similarities between father and daughter. Through her father’s influence, Lexi is able to see beyond the limited view of the town and embrace new possibilities.
The Near Witch is a slower-paced read, but if you enjoy Victoria Schwab’s other novels I would suggest giving this a try. Just bear in mind when you start it, that it does read like a first novel. There will be flaws that her later works do not have, but the story is still very much enjoyable.
To Purchase: Bookshop | Author's Website