Monday, November 7, 2011
Age Group: Young Adult
Published: August 2, 2011 by Hyperion Books CH
Format: Hardcover, 282 pgs
2011 Debut Author Challenge
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.
Mini-Review: Victoria Schwab has created a new kind of fairy tale caught between Grimm and Disney: The Near Witch is an enchanting tale with all the eerie qualities of an old fairy tale paired with the creative flare of a Neil Gaiman book and featuring a cast of characters you'll hate to leave behind.
Near is a fascinating place where strangers never visit and magic is feared. When a boy appears on the edge of town, things in Near begin to unravel and the Near Witch is at the heart of it all.
Based on the description, I could not wait to get my hands on a copy of Victoria Schwab's debut. As a lover of fairy tales and a fellow Neil Gaiman fan, I knew The Near Witch wouldn't disappoint. I was right.
From the very first page I was hooked, not just by the story, but by Schwab's beautifully crafted prose, as the words really do seem to sweep you up and carry you straight into Near. I felt like I was sitting around a campfire listening to a ghost story or as if I was curled up in bed and Lexi herself was telling me the tale of the Near Witch.
I was captivated by the characters and needed to know their stories, every last one of them. The town and its history intrigued me as well, as did the moor and the story of the witch. As I read I began to think different aspects of the book reminded me of other stories I loved: I thought of the Tooth Fairy from the movie Darkness Falls, of Gaiman's book Stardust for its magical qualities and feel, and of the movie The Brothers Grimm as well as the original fairy tales it is based on. While the book did feel familiar in ways, Schwab's debut is a wonderful and original story.
A new kind of fairy tale that is not the happily-ever-after Disney story or as cruel as tales by the Grimms but every bit as eerie and sweet as the two, Victoria Schwab's debut promises great things to come.
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