Author: Victoria Schwab
Series: Stand Alone
Published: August 2, 2011 by Hyperion
Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Description: 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.
I Give This ...
I really tried to love this book. It had everything going for it. But, there were just a few things that really kept me from enjoying as much as I wanted to.
I think Lexi's character was the most interesting part of this novel. She's the oldest of two girls who was raised by her father to be more like a boy. She was always told that she could do anything a boy could, and she could probably do it better. She was taught to not be afraid of the witch sisters who lived on the outskirts of the town. And above all, she was taught to respect the moor. When her father dies, her uncle takes his place (more as a man of the house) and spends a lot of time trying to control Lexi and make her into a proper young lady. I was happy to see that she resists him at very turn and that her mother doesn't give into the pressure. She also has a talent for tracking.
I also like Cole. A stranger that shows up in the middle of the night always adds an interesting twist to the story. Especially when children start disappearing from the beds in the middle of the night right after his arrival. I never believed he was involved. But, I liked watching the town freak out over his arrival. The mob mentality takes effect, and people start to say things that aren't true. It doesn't help the sisters are protecting him and the village as a whole or afraid of them. When they realize what he can do, there is absolutely no changing their minds on who the culprit really is. It's easier to believe a real flesh and blood person and not some mythical creature that may or may not have existed.
I loved the legend of the near witch. It fit into the whole time period beautifully. I just wish it would have stayed in the background. For some reason, I just didn't feel the story needed a paranormal element. I wanted someone in the village to be luring the children from the beds. Since witchcraft is such a prominent part of the story, it seemed completely feasible to me. I wanted the story to be more about the idea that a stranger might be more trustworthy than the neighbor you've known forever. It was also very slow at times. But, still a pretty good read.