Hello hello, and welcome or welcome back to my little bookish corner of the internet! It’s spooky season for sure now, with Autumn having had properly started and October drawing around us like a cape. I listened to this book at the end of September, and it was the perfect listen to watch the months change.
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.
This fabulous story feels like a familiar tale, that you’ve never heard before, both at the same time. It’s a brilliant in that it brings you so much from witch lore and myths, but is so individual, and is one that I will not forget for a long time.
The love that Lexi has for her family, especially her sister, is so vivid that it almost jumps off the page. It’s the kind of love that makes you want to rush around the people you personally love and wrap them in your arms. Having watched her father slowly fade away, and being lost in the giref of it, she feels a responsibility to his memory, to his love of the town of Near, to the moors surrounding it… and to the Witch’s memory.
Magda and Deska, the current witches of Near, fulfill the traidion ‘old crone’ sterotype of witches, but to balance the scales, the stranger in town, who Lexi names Cole, is a young, handsome man; the very opposite of what they are. Yet he is a stranger, and so this closed society who is distrustful of anything or anyone they do not know are suspicious of him. This in turn becomes suspicion of Magda and Deska for offering him shelter, and we see just a glimpse of what a time of true witch trials must have been like: suspicion is proof enough of guilt. It’s terrifying and anthropologically interesting to see this in action, while also horrifying as you grow to care for the character himself, and see him through Lexi’s eyes. The affection she develops for him, the lack of fear she has of anything magical, is exactly what he needs to heal from his own losses.
It’s a sweeping, captivating tale of desperation of many kinds, of witches old and new, and of the search – even in death – for some peace and respect.
Thanks for stopping by today for this review. It’s the first of Victoria Schwab’s adult fiction I’ve reviewed, but I’ve also loved her middle grade series, Cassidy Blake: City of Ghosts, Tunnel of Bones, Bridge of Souls.
If you’re looking for some witchy vibes this October, how about some of the below?