Monday, May 14, 2012

YA Review: The Near Witch

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

Published: August 2nd, 2011 by Hyperion Books
Genre: YA Fantasy
Binding: Hardcover (but the paperback comes out tomorrow!)
Page Count: 282 in my hardcover
Part of a series: Sort of. *is mysterious* I'll say more tomorrow!
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): 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.

Review: You guys. You guys. Do you know how good this book was? I got so lost in it that I had a folded really oddly under my ribs and I kept ignoring it "just until the end of this chapter" until 3 chapters later I realized how sore my ribs were. It was that good.

The Near Witch has a bit of a dark Gail Carson Levine fairy tale vibe. But think more Hansel and Gretal (that story is ca-reepy, even the modern version, is it not???) than Cinderella. And it does it fantastically.

Plot: Basically, hot guy shows up in the town of Near, kids start to disappear, everybody goes all mob mentality because small towns suck like that sometimes, and then things get scary and fun and really, really good. Got it? Awesome.

Characters: Lexi was freaking awesome. She was smart and capable and independent and it drove me bonkers that so many people wouldn't listen to her just because she was a girl. I loved how stubborn she was and how protective she was of her little sister, Wren.

One thing I liked a lot was that Lexi's mother wasn't a member of the Useless Mother Club (*cough*Katniss'smother*cough*). She was sort of emotionally out of it, but she wasn't relying on Lexi to support their family which we all know is one of my biggest pet peeves. (*cough*Katniss'smother*cough*) I'm quite impressed by that, frankly. And, to be fair, the book was from Lexi's first person POV (present tense, by the way, and done extremely well) so there was a bias and she realizes that her mother is trying more towards the end of the book.

Okay. Now. Cole (the boy who seems to fade like smoke from the summary). He was freaking hot. (Smoking hot, even. Yes? No? Okay.) And his story was... ah, I have no words to say how much I liked his character. So here's a passage of him and Lexi that I loved instead:
"What are you doing?" he asks, and I can hear the amusement at the edge of his voice. It's a wonderful sound. He brings his fingers to my outstretched arms, lowering my hands. The way he touches me, it's as if he thinks either I'll break, or that I'll hurt him. As quickly as the touch is there, it's gone, and leaves me wondering if his fingers ever met my skin, or if they only came close enough for me to imagine they did.
*happy sigh*

Cons, complaints, bad stuff, etc.: It ended *sniffles*

PG-13 stuff: No language. Some smooching and some scary moments, but I think a lot of younger readers reading up might be just fine reading it.

Cover comments: I think the cover is absolutely gorgeous. And she has a head! The book also has a really beautiful landscape photo on the back.

Conclusion: The Near Witch was serously awesome. The romance was adorable and not over the top, the characters were complex and three dimensional and it was just... a delicious read. (Get it? Delicious? Witches? Hansel and Gretal? Okay, okay, I'll stop punning now.) Four and a half roses and highly recommended.


Other Notes:

- I basically said this in the review, but I have a note that says, "Smoky boy sounds hot." It was actually my first note... anyways, that's the difference between me and Lexi. She names him Cole because he won't tell her his name. (This is only 50 pages in so it's not really a spoiler, honest.) Me, I would have called him Smoky 'cause I'm sarcastic like that.

- This is a bit short but it's only because my wrist is sore and typing kind of hurts. I've been typing this whole thing with a chunk of ice under my wrist because ouch. It's not a reflection on how awesome the book was. Got it? Good.

Okay, now, there's going to be news tomorrow. So watch this space for that. Because it'll be sweet.

Peace and cookies,
Laina

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