Title: The Near Witch
Author: V. E. Schwab
Publisher: Titan Books
Publication Date: 2019 (2011)
Source: Borrowed from the Library
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.
It was interesting to pick up The Near Witch after having finished most of Schwab's more recent adult and YA writing, particularly in looking at how she has grown as a writer. The great premise I've come to expect from her is there, with a subtle twist on fairytale and folklore. The prose is engaging and the action moves at a good pace. However, where this book fell down for me, compared to her more recent works, was with the characters. There was nothing wrong with Lexi and Cole per se, but they didn't captivate me, they felt somewhat generic, and I thought their romance ran a little too close to instalove, rather than developing during the story in a believable way. There is plenty to enjoy in this book, but for me it lacked the impact of most of her other stories, so I am giving this one four stars. It's still good, just not *as* good.