Publication date: August 2nd, 2011
Published by: Hyperion Books CH
Source: Net Galley
Genre: YA Fantasy
Eligible for Debut Author Challenge 2011
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.
I really wanted this book to be amazing and awesome, but it wasn't :( For me at least.
First of all, I thought the world building lacked structure. In other words, there was none. We get thrown right in the middle of a situation when a girl suddenly appears and does her thing. We don't know where we are, except that the place is called Near and it's a village, what rules apply to this world, its history, how it came to be, something that will indicate its existence even in a fantasy world. I felt lost through the best part of the book.
Same goes with the characters. We learn close to nothing about Lexi and her family. I'm pretty sure we don't even learn her age. Helena, her alleged best friend, appears only 2 times in the whole book, even though I considered her presence to be imperative at parts. Also Lexi's "friend" Tyler, is kinda of a jerk and he was constantly hitting on her and not in a nice way. Why did she allow this behavior to go on, I don't know. Maybe their relationship and what they have gone through when they were children justifies it, but we don't learn anything about their relationship or past actions. All characters in the book were like that, very 2 dimensional for my taste. All except the sisters, who showed a lot of promise and had the potential to turn this whole thing around. Unfortunately their characters were not developed at all.
The story was an OK middle grade fairy tale, and admittedly a little spooky at times. It was very simple and everything was laid out in front of you from the beginning: what was happening, who was the big bad and what we can do to bring him/her down was apparent from the beginning. There are so many opportunities you can explore when you decide to write a fairy tale, so many stuff you can add, so many paths your story can take so it can be interesting and elaborate. This one, failed to catch my attention, I was never hooked.
The romance…ah, the romance. I will personally pretend it never happened because I didn't convince me AT ALL. I think it was there basically because every YA book MUST have one but for me it didn't work. They had a nice moment when Lexi named him, which was a nice touch, but that's it. They might as well have been brother and sister from then on.
Schwab's writing might be very good, I do not object, but good writing alone doesn't make a good book. If she tries another genre in the future, I will definitely pick it up.
I so wanted to love this book. I feel like a complete outsider, since so many people loved it and I am sure there will be a lot more. I guess The Near Witch just wasn't for me.