Title: The Near Witch
Author: VE Schwab
Format read: Hardback
Publication Date: 2nd August 2011 / 12th March 2019
Page Count: 293 Pages
Publisher: Titan Books
Star rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Synopsis: Lexi has lived in the village of Near all her life. She has grown up with the stories of the Near Witch and knows that the Sisters next door are witches too. But life in Near is pretty dull, everyone knows everyone and now she’s 16 Lexi is feeling the pressure to settle down and get married to a nice village boy, when really all she wants to do is hunt and track like her father taught her. When a stranger comes to town Lexi is looking forward to something different, something new. But when children in the village start to go missing and the strange boy is suspected Lexi must do what she can to find out what’s really going on and protect her new friend at the same time.
I grabbed a copy of this book at the VE Schwab signing at Waterstones Nottingham last week. I’d not heard a lot about it other than that it was Victoria’s first published novel and that it was being republished almost 10 years later. A lot of people told me they wanted to read it but were concerned because they’d heard it was scary so I guess I want to clear that up first, The Near Witch is dark but it’s not scary. I mean it might be scary if you were a child but I’m literally the biggest chicken in the world and it wasn’t scary for me so if that concern is putting you off don’t let it!
This novel makes for a fantastic first book and I truly believe it should have received recognition for this at the time it was first published, but I’m happy I’ve been able to read it now and in its beautiful new cover! I liked Lexi’s character she’s very much the type of female character who refuses to commit to gender roles, who wants to be herself and is oppressed by the male influences around her, or at least they attempt to oppress her. I especially loved that her mother supported this fierce and wonderful daughter of hers and let her be herself, it’s wonderful to read about a healthy mother daughter relationship as so many books where the child/young woman craves independence, sees her at odds with her mother. I like that The Near Witch shows that this isn’t the way it has to be.
This novel overall was about friendship and outsider-ness, Lexi is an outsider in her desire to be different while Cole is a literal outsider, a stranger to the town, the story is about their bond and how coming together allows them to truly be themselves. It’s about accepting people for who they are and not trying to change them and I loved that.