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.
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.
Does anyone else think audio-books give you a different reaction when you first hear a story? That some books are made for being read aloud while others do infinitely better when you sit with the actual book in your hands, reading silently?
Because this is definitely a book that needs to be heard.
I don’t do audio-books that often, but I had a drive coming up, and this one had been on my To Read list forever, so I downloaded it (thank you, public library!) and was good to go.
The fairy tale cadence of the writing, that breathless, almost whispered rhythm, lent itself so beautifully to the story. It enhanced it, actually, drawing me in deeper. Which was weird, because when I arrived at my destination and tried to finish the last few chapters by reading them on my Kindle, I lost some of the magic of the story.
Not to say the ending was disappointing. It wasn’t, by any stretch. But the allure of hearing this particular story aloud had been such a powerful force, that with it gone, I felt it powerfully.
Especially in instances where the magic happened. Most notably, with the wind.
You could hear the wind in the writing. Could feel it, and while I listened to the story, I was even more conscious of the wind whistling past my car.
Which I freaking loved.
Because the story itself felt a bit obvious. You have a witch, with a witch-hunt, and fear spiraling through the town of Near. The story was masterfully crafted, but it was a story I’d heard before: fear of the other and the unknown. I would have enjoyed it more, I think, if it hadn’t been so cliche in some of its instances and if the characters hadn’t fallen so completely into the molds that all witch-hunt stories inevitably have.
Still, I adored this story, and I was so glad I got the chance to listen to it. And even with the the straightforward flow of the narrative, the writing was so compelling, so captivating, that I was memorized while I listened. It deserves a solid 4.5 out of 5 stars.