I was very excited to receive an advanced readers copy of this debut novel from NetGalley.com because 1. it sounded really good and 2. Carrie Ryan was reading it when I went to her books signing and gave it high praise. That was enough for me! This book ended up being very different from what I had expected, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Here’s the scoop:
The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab, August 2011
In the small village of Near, Lexi grew up hearing the story of the witch that once lived in the moor on the outskirts of town. Legend had it that the witch was responsible for the death of a child. That was when the village council stepped in and killed her, making the village safe for children again. For many years there was peace in Near until the day a stranger arrives in town. That same day the first child disappears. As the villagers prepare to hunt down the stranger, Lexi begins her own search. What she finds is not an evil kidnapper, but a mysterious young man with a tortured past. As the villagers’ fear turns to panic and the hunt intensifies, so does Lexi’s desire to prove that the stranger is innocent. To do so she must convince the town leaders that the legend of the Near Witch is in fact true. Can she save the stranger and the village children before it is too late or will the Near Witch finally have her revenge?
This story is beautifully written and captivating. The village of Near, the moors, and the wind come alive, creating a haunting atmosphere. The legend of the Near Witch has a fairy tale quality, as does the romance between Lexi and mysterious stranger. While not a fast-paced thriller, there is plenty of adventure in this debut novel. This novel has the feel of historical fiction, reads like a folk tale, and has a hint of paranormal romance. It is like nothing I have ever read.
If you enjoyed The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell, be sure to check out The Near Witch.