Top positive review
A hauntingly beautiful tale
Reviewed in the United States on March 17, 2019
Lexi Harris lives in the village of Near. Secluded in the vast stretches of the moor, Near and its residents live a quiet, if mundane, existence. That is until a strange, ethereal boy arrives in town. As young children begin to go missing in the middle of the night, the outsider is blamed, but Lexi is convinced a dark, older, more nefarious entity is behind the disappearances: The Near Witch. A story filled with magic, love, and heart, VE Schwab's THE NEAR WITCH is an absolutely beautiful read.
I will always freely admit i am a massive VE Schwab fan. THE NEAR WITCH seems different than her other works. As her first novel, THE NEAR WITCH is smaller, a more intimate story. Her characters don't quite have the complexity she is now known for, but you can see the beginnings of everything to come. Lexi is stubborn and filled with angst and conviction. She's the character you want to root for. Cole's mystery is what seems compelling. The love story is alright, but it is secondary to the overall conflict.
There are many themes throughout: family, love, acceptance, isolation. Everything is brought together well but unexceptionally.
What truly sets this book apart is the absolutely gorgeous writing and amazing setting/atmosphere. Schwab has a lyrical storytelling quality that makes you feel the grass of the moors at your feet, see the wind blown trees, and connect with the natural rhythm and beauty of Near just like Lexi does. This has become one of my favorite books for the writing alone.
THE NEAR WITCH is one of those hauntingly beautiful books you should crack open on a blustery, rainy night. It is subtle, quiet, and unimposing, but settles around you like a comfortable blanket. There is something familiar in the tale of witches and young love that makes this simple story a treat to experience. I have a feeling I'm going to read this book again and again.