There are certain truths in Near: The Near Witch is an old story to frighten children, nothing more. The wind is lonely and always looking for company. There are no strangers in the town Near.
For all of her life, sixteen-year-old Lexi has known those three things to be true from the town, from her life, and from the stories her father told her.
What happens when two of those truths turn out to be wrong?
Soon after a stranger arrives in Near, children begin to disappear. Lexi knows they can’t be connected–even though the boy seems to fade like smoke–not when she feels so sure of him.
But someone is taking the children. And Near wants someone to blame. They do not need to be the same person, especially when the most likely culprit is more legend than person.
Time is running out and Lexi isn’t sure if she’ll be able to find the children while keeping the stranger safe in The Near Witch (2011) by Victoria Schwab.
The Near Witch is Schwab’s first novel.
Schwab’s writing is lyrical and immediately brings to mind traditional fairy tales with all of their charm and danger. The story expertly builds tension as Lexi searches both for the missing children and the truth about Near and its infamous witch. With so much mystery surrounding Near and so much suspense, the story fast becomes a page turner urging readers from one haunting scene to the next.
Although there is (a tiny bit of) a love story amidst the talk of witches and missing children, Lexi remains a strong heroine with her own resolve and a whole lot of spunk. With the combination of lots of paranormal elements and not too much romance, The Near Witch fills a need for spooky, exciting stories that don’t start and stop with the main character’s romance.
The Near Witch is an atmospheric blend of folktale conventions and spooky details. Although the novel takes place on the sparse moor landscape, the story is filled with distinctive characters and memorable moments. The resulting novel is a satisfying choice for readers looking for both fairy tale magic and ghost story chills.
Possible Pairings: All the Truth That’s in Me by Julie Berry, Plain Kate by Erin Bow, Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton, A Creature of Moonlight by Rebecca Hahn, Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones, Clockwork by Philip Pullman, Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood, The Glass Casket by McCormick Templeman