2022 Reading Review: The Near Witch

I am putting off writing this review—mostly because if I’m writing the review, that means the book is over! And I’m still mentally with V. E. Schwab’s The Near Witch.

V. E. Schwab’s a name that’s been popping up a lot within the BookTok and BookStagram worlds. Back in May, I reviewed her book The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. I loved that book. I ate up every word. In addition to immediately falling into the story and loving the characters, the writing just flowed so well. I’ve been eager to get back into another V. E. Schwab book for a while.

So, while I was scoping out my local Waterstones on a day when I needed to relax and chill out, I treated myself to some books—The Near Witch being among them. I’ll admit: I was intrigued also by the review on the cover that read, “The natural successor to Diana Wynne Jones”; I like Howl’s Moving Castle, so I thought The Near Witch might bring both romantic and witchy vibes.

It delivered on both! But I also got some earthy and even slightly gothic vibes too. Didn’t know I wanted them until I was lost in the village of Near. Let’s talk about!

As always: any big spoilers will be reserved for the Opinions section, but I’ll still try to keep them to a minimum.

Story

The village of Near has tales that are centuries old—for are stories not our most connecting thread? One of the most well-known is that of the Near Witch. It is said that the Near Witch lived among the people in the town until she was accused of a crime and ran out of Near. As stories go, the Near Witch is now just a legend among the villagers, but they have kept themselves closed off all these years.

Until a stranger comes, and his presence shifts the entire community. Especially when children begin disappearing.

Who is this stranger, and is he to blame for the missing children? Or is there something more to these old tales and warnings from Near’s past?

Characters

Okay, there are actually quite a few characters to chat about in this one, so I’m limiting myself here. But here’s what I’ve got:

Lexi Harris. Our leading lady. Taught by her father to be a hunter and tracker, she’s as connected to the moor as anyone else. Yet she’s regularly dismissed when it comes to finding the lost children and finding the cause, despite her clear gifts for seeing what others miss.

The stranger. He enters Near in the dark of night and soon finds himself accused of a crime. For in Near, the biggest crime is being unknown.

The Thorne Sisters. Known to all in Near as witches themselves. But Magda and Dreska are wise figures who know more about the land, the moor, the stories, and the earth than any others in the village.

The Village. To collect all the characters who weave this tale together, I give you the village. Near is a collection of people who’ve learned fear: fear of outsiders, fear of differences, fear of the unknown.

Writing

It’s fabulous! Seriously, I can’t say enough about V. E. Schwab’s writing.

Listen, I’m in the middle of several books at a time. I’m good like that (or bad like that; book-hopping, getting bored, any excuse I got). When I began to read The Near Witch, it was just to take a break from whatever I was working on and read one chapter. Just one chapter, ladies and gents.

And then I just could not put it down.

I do not know how V. E. Schwab does it, but she weaves magic into her writing. The tone fits with the story. The vibe just meshes with the world we’re thrown into. Everything about the writing here flows so well that even when more “modern” language is thrown in, I’m not taken out of the story.

And I am SO excited to explore more of her works.

Overall, it’s not a challenging read. And the way it is written will suck you into the story and the world.

Will You Like This?

Do you like stories with eerie mysteries and a touch of romance?
Are you a fan of a darker, slightly gothic vibe, in a very rural setting?
Do you like stories where old tales and myths feature heavily into the plot and characters?

These are just some of the things you get in The Near Witch. So, if you’re answering yes to these, it might be worth a go!

Opinion (Spoilers)

*No spoilers in this review*

I love that I get to the end of these reviews and still be like, “In case you didn’t get my opinion from the rest of the review…”

Obviously, I loved this book! Again, I immediately fell into the story, the setting, the eerie tension of it… I just adored everything about it, and I devoured the book.

And I’m a bit sad that it’s over. Not that I want a sequel. It’s such a great standalone novel, and I personally feel like the story is done and told. I like it that way.

But I miss the feeling I got while reading it. Again, the setting and the scenery Schwab described, it was like I was there. And I liked that setting—this old, quiet village on the moor, the connection to the earth and nature. There was something about the whole vibe of this book that just really enjoyed. And I’m going through a bit of a mourning period since I finished reading it.

It’s rare for a book to give you that whole feeling—from the tone and the writing, to the actual story, to even the setting and the characters. For me, this book hit so many marks that I genuinely enjoyed. I would 100% recommend it to people who are into this genre or into V. E. Schwab’s writing overall.

Rating

I’m not really a rating type person. I kinda just like talking to people about books and ideas and themes. But I know others value a rating system, so I’m gonna try to incorporate that a little more in my reviews.

My personal rating for this: 4 stars!

I know: I’m ranting and raving about it, so why not 5?

I don’t know. Perhaps I’m leaving off that one wee star to give you, fellow readers, the opportunity to judge for yourself. I’m not sure what a book would need for me to give it 5 full stars.

But if you’re a fan of a sort of gothic vibe, set in an old village in the middle of the moors, with magic and mysteries afoot, you can’t do better than this!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *