Book Review: The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab
Here we go! My first book for 2012. I started The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab exactly on January 1st, so I wouldn’t cheat on any of my book challenges. This book counts toward my 100 book goal for the year and for the Witches and Witchcraft challenge. The Near Witch was one of those books that I was really looking forward to at the end of 2011. A lot of the YA and witchy book readers had been tracking this book and I’ve seen a few reviews that gave it good marks. When I tried to check the book out of the library in the beginning of December I ended up having to wait almost three weeks because all the copies were gone and there was a waiting list. I wasn’t the only one looking forward to reading The Near Witch.
Near is a village that sits out on the moor, a world unto itself. Lexi lives on the edge of the village, where only witches and hunters make their homes. Her father was a great hunter but he dead and left Lexi’s mother a ghost of her former self. Then one night Lexi sees a stranger out on the moor, a pale boy with dark hair. Soon after, the children of Near begin to disappear and people would like nothing more than to blame the stranger. But Near holds a terrible secret and Lexi must fight to save her home and her little sister from a myth.
I was really excited to read The Near Witch. It was one of the books I had been looking forward to during the autumn. Unfortunately, I have to say I was a bit disappointed. The story was a tad slow, with a lot of running around the village waiting for things to happen and the main character dealing with her stupid uncle. (Gods save us all from people who think they know better.) Near is a village that sits by itself on the moor and as soon as I understood the setting I knew one of my biggest aggravations was going to rear its head. Whenever there is a small village setting it never fails that most of its inhabitants are completely stupid and total bigots.
I don’t know what it is about the isolated village setting that makes authors flip some magical switch, but it never fails that the characters (mostly older males) turn out to be prejudiced buttheads. Lexi’s biggest obstacles in the story are her uncle, who thinks Lexi’s behavior is not befitting a girl, and her ex-best friend, who seems to be obsessed with Lexi and races past the creepy mark into psycho in a single chapter. The first time Tyler manhandled Lexi I wanted to knock his head off with a baseball bat. I hate that. Males characters to not have the right to pick female characters up and cart them around like they are nothing better than empty headed dolls. I hated Tyler and felt vicious pleasure when Lexi kicked him where the sun don’t shine later in the book.
There is a great deal of running around the village, Lexi avoiding her uncle and the Council, and waiting for things to happen. When we do get to the part where the witch appears, it’s a little ridiculous. I laughed when the witch’s bones pulled up the moor and created a body. It’s silly and pretty predictable. There is a little instant-romance between Lexi and the stranger; also predictable and silly. The Near Witch appears to be your standard fairy-tale that’s just been fleshed out. Most of the middle could be removed and we wouldn’t lose anything important.
I was hoping for something a little more original and creative from The Near Witch. Instead I got a typical fairy-tale story with secondary characters that I wished would drop dead so that the main character could just get on with it already. It was a slow and predictable story without much to really set it apart. The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab is an okay book if you’re looking for an ordinary fairy-tale but don’t go looking for anything incredible.
Posted on January 10, 2012, in book review, fiction, modern fairy tale and tagged 2012, book, book review, books, fairy tale, fantasy, fiction, The Near Witch, Victoria Schwab, witchy. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.