My Catchphrases

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Review: The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

Title: The Near Witch
Author: Victoria Schwab
Publisher: Hyperion
Publication Date: 2 Aug 2011
Source: Loaned from the lovely Lynsey at Narratively Speaking

Synopsis from Goodreads

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.

And 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.

Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won’t soon forget.


Firstly I have to say that I have already complained to Victoria that there was no where near enough snogging in this book. You may ask why I wanted more snogging in a book about a witch - well it would have stopped me from being so flippin terrified of said witch [ : P ]

The writing style is so amazingly descriptive that it took me right into the story with no effort on the part of my imagination at all. Lets be honest here, I have an extremely vivid imagination, therefore to not have to use then have it kick in alongside the descriptions was almost like being in the story myself. Add in a first person narrative and I was right there.

The historical setting complete with candlelight and wood stoves added to the overall imagery and atmosphere of the story. I really do think the candlelight actually added to the tension, I was just waiting for the candles to blow out. Creeptastic. Parallel imagery of the Pied Piper popped into my head with the music that leads the children away. The way in which stories were passed down was just brilliantly portrayed and wonderful to imagine (the books of the past).

The description of The Near Witch in the folk-tale within the story brought to mind images of the Triad Goddess - Maiden, Mother, Crone. I am just interested whether anyone else had that image or if it was just me. Honestly I actually had goosebumps at the tale of The Near Witch, it was chilling. I could feel myself holding my breath at certain points, this is how immersed in the story I was.

Lexi is such a brilliant character - strong and independent, yet her love for her family is what drives her. She doesn't conform to social pressure but does what is right rather than what is expected. The constraints placed upon girls within this time setting is powerfully portrayed, even down to how they are expected to eat. I mean I like good manners and try to get my children to eat nicely but there is a limit.

I adored Lexi's little sister, Wren, she is just an adorable bundle of sweetness. Plus the way in which children at that time period made up their own games and were happy to play with toys baked from dough instead of wanting Nintendo's and mobile phones was just lovely to picture. (So much cheaper too, lol).

What really stood out for me was the powerful depiction of how insular people can be. Narrowing their minds so mush so that the whole world only exists in their own area. Anything out of this sphere is regarded with suspicion. The description of the hills as Lexi and Cole are walking reinforces that there is more to the world than the box we put ourselves in. Fear and ignorance are to blame for a lot of things as this story poignantly portrays.

This book brings to mind the original dark fairy-tales and the folk-lore that has been developed over time all woven together. As I said earlier the writing style is so descriptive it draws you right into the story, the way in which the tension is drawn out is just brilliant. If you like creepy folk-tales then this book is definitely for you. I for one cannot wait to see what Miss Schwab comes out with next.


  1. It is an absolutely fabulous book. I didn't realise I would love it as much as I did.

  2. At first I didn't think I'd like this one so I didn't even add it too my wishlist, then I started seeing amazing reviews like this ne and I now know I need to read it! Maybe once my tbrs gone down a bit eh?!

  3. I MUST read this book. I want to read this book. In fact I am asking Santa for this book. x


Blog Design by Use Your Imagination Designs all images form the Very Own World kit by Irene Alexeeva