The Near Witch – By V.E Schwab
Published: March 12th by Titan Books
“Maybe one day the words will pour out like so many others, easy and smooth and on their own. Right now they take pieces of me with them.”
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.
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.
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
Having read a few of V.E Schwab’s books in the past and a couple of them quite recently when I heard that her first book “The Near Witch” was being republished I got pretty excited, when looking into getting into her books I had tried to find this book as it had intrigued me but was gutted to find it was out of print. I was doubly pleased to then receive a copy gifted to me by Titan Books in exchange for an honest review.
I wanted to talk about this book on an aesthetic level briefly because this book is beautiful and just feels physically perfect. The cover is a simple yet elegant pattern using a nice palette of colour, under the dust jacket the book is a lovely wine/maroon colour with a gold foil figure who I assume to be the near witch, I love hardbacks that have little “secrets” under the covers like that as I always take dust jackets off to read. It’s beautiful inside as well with the insides of the covers being covered in a nice pattern that has a palette to match the front cover and helps to capture an important part of the story, the wind. In addition to art and colour, I love that it comes with a built-in wine coloured bookmark ribbon and that although this is a hardback it’s a smaller one and is similar in size to a paperback meaning it’s much more comfortable to read. I feel like a lot of work has gone into the way this book works and it’s really paid off so wanted to draw attention to it.
As for the content of the book itself, The Near Witch is a brilliant spooky tale that I often found myself refusing to read in bed after freaking myself out a few times. The tale itself at its heart is certainly something that’s been done before, even at the time of its original publication and I can see why it may not have done well as an authors debut perhaps because there are a lot of tales about witches who are wronged by town folk who seek their revenge and steal children etc. The plot alone doesn’t completely blow me of the water like Vengeful did but it’s written and embellished in a way that really draws you in which really feels like Victoria’s writing and although nowhere near developed and polished as a lot of her more recent work is, it is very decidedly hers still.
In a rare occurrence for me, I actually very much enjoyed the relationship between Lexi and Cole, I’m not a huge romance fan unless it’s angsty or broken enough (not healthy, I’m aware, that’s what fictional characters are for), but just the way their interactions are written had me wanting more. It wasn’t the worlds most epic love story by any means but small, imperfect and not defined in any way. I loved it.
Along with the original Near Witch story we were also treated to more of Cole’s story and I absolutely adored this extra and would actually have quite possibly given “Ash-Born Boy” an even higher rating than The original story itself because although I did very much enjoy The Near Witch, I LOVED Ash-Born Boy with every fibre of my being. It definitely has the more finished quality that a lot of Victoria’s later works have and I wonder when it was written. It may just be I’m morbidly fascinated with Cole, to be honest, and his entire situation.
The Near Witch by V.E Schwab is out today and if you like spooky, witchy mysteries and even more mysterious boys and girls who fight to protect them and those they care about The Near Witch is absolutely for you.
Have you had a chance to read The Near Witch yet? If so let me know what you thought, if not tell me about your favourite mysterious boys, your best brave girls, the spookiest book you’ve read!