Near Witch by Victoria Schwab
Publish date: August 2, 2011
One sentence synopsis: In the village of Near a stranger has arrived in town, and the children of Near are disappearing.
This one was high on my TBR in 2011 list. I couldn't wait to get my hands on it.
I love a good ghost story. I love a good witch story. I love stories that are set outside of time and here we are isolated in the village of Near, which is bordered by spooky moors.
The writing is beautiful:
"In my dreams, someone is screaming. The voice cries out and gets caught in the wind. It's tangled, faltering. And then it changes, stretches long and thin, pulled taut before it breaks, and all is quiet." (e-galley pg 247)
Gorgeous, gorgeous prose! A fiery heroine! A tortured innocent! And somebody is stealing the village's children.
The problem with this story is that it is 50 pages too long. And repetitive! Three times, Lexi's mother bales her out of trouble with her lawman uncle. Three times Lexi approaches the forest to complete her task and then falls back. Three times she consults the good witches for cryptic advice.
The "romance" also falls flat. I didn't really buy into it until later (and that was more because I realized Lexi was not going to be able to do anything on her own). I thought the story would have worked better if Lexi had sisterly feelings for Cole, because, despite showing us some severe make-out sessions, Schwab never really explains the attraction between these two. In fact, Cole barely speaks but somehow he has won Lexi's heart? It just didn't fit.
Schwab is one to watch, this is a first novel after all, and I always try to give debuts a fair shot at growing. I think she has the talent to write a really beautiful story, I just think she needs some plot work.
That being said, Near Witch is not a bad story, I just would not run out and buy it. Pick it up at the library instead. Better yet, wait for Fall and a super windy night and then read it (that is the time of year I would have released this-spooky, windy October).
For those who love: witchy stories, Cryer's Cross (has a similar feel), and The Village (the movie).