The Near Witch is Victoria (V.E.) Schwab’s debut novel. First published back in 2011, the fantasy novel fell out of print some while later, only for it to have been taken up for re-publication in March of this year.
The story takes place in the town of Near: a place where there are no strangers. Where you must not listen to the wind calling at night, for it is lonely and always looking for company. Where The Near Witch is an old story told to frighten children. But Lexi finds out that at least one of these sayings is no longer true when an actual stranger, a boy, appears outside her home on the moor at night. The following night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds and the boy falls under suspicion. As the hunt for the missing 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.
Victoria Schwab is hands down my favourite author, and I had already owned a copy of the out-of-print edition before its re-release. After having read her other work before her debut, it was fascinating to see just how much V’s writing style has changed. One thing is for sure though, her beautiful writing style remains bejewelled with poetic quotations. V crafts her words in a fashion that is both clear and highly visual. The Near Witch reverberates with the atmosphere of a dark fairy tale which was something I loved about this story. It meant that the story seemed familiar in relation to other fairy tales we hear about in Western culture, but at the same time Schwab brings the story a uniqueness that sets it apart and marks it as one of her own.
Despite the 4-star rating, don’t let that fool you for how much I enjoyed this. I highly recommend that everyone checks out V’s debut, which in itself would serve as a great intro into her work and the types of stories she crafts, but if not, then all of her other work does just as well to captivate and enthral the reader.