What a gentle and haunting book. Even now, a while after I’ve finished it, I can still hear the wind whispering over the trees and grass singing its melody…
The town of Near is a small one, surrounded by the vast grasslands of the moor. Nothing is amiss, until one night, children short to disappear from their beds at night, and no one can figure out why. Lexi knows that her younger sister may be taken, so while the town is off chasing the wrong suspect, she takes it upon herself to find the missing children. But the answer is elusive and mysterious, and how do you get people to believe you if the culprit is no more than a fairy tale?
To me, the best part about this book was its atmosphere. Yes, the plot and characters were well-written, but it’s the setting and prose that truly shines. A lot of the book takes place at night, and the descriptions of the moor under the moonlight were so vivid and chilling that it seemed to become one of my own memories. I’m not usually frightened by books, but the hypnotic melody of the wind and the gnarled knots of the forest gave me goosebumps. Schwab has crafted such a setting that if I close my eyes, I can almost feel as if I’m standing in the town of Near. And that is a great gift of writing.
I love Victoria Schwab and I’ve read this author’s later works of writing, like Vicious, The Shades of Magic Series:, The Archived, or This Savage Song before this one. I can definitely see parallels between this novel and her later books, like the semi-elemental magic, the style, and some overlap in characters. (Cole reminded me so much of August, was I the only one?). It’s intriguing to get a glimpse into the author’s mind and to see the inspirations for her later books.
If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading one of her books, I suggest you do so! Any one of them are well-written and gripping. Reading the Near Witch has further cemented Schwab’s place as one of my favorite authors ever, and I highly recommend it!