Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Near Witch

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab
Hyperion, 2011
282 pages
YA; Fantasy; Sisters
2.5/5 stars

Source: Received an egalley via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

A friend asked me to describe the plot of this book when I was about 1/3 through. All I could come up with was that a stranger arrives and the next night a child disappears. So obviously this is not a very plot-driven book. Instead I would describe it as very atmospheric with the suspicions and superstitions of the town of Near bleeding together as Lexi Harris sets herself to the task of investigating despite her uncle's disapproval.  In some ways it reminded me of Plain Kate by Erin Bow except that I liked this  even less. At least Plain Kate made me feel something while with The Near Witch, I didn't feel any connection to the characters, to the plot, to the setting.

Lexi is an admirable character, I guess. But she's so nondescript and typical of a YA heroine. She doesn't want to be the proper lady her uncle urges her to be. She doesn't want the "safe" relationship with the boy in the town. She falls for the random stranger, largely because he is a stranger, someone she doesn't know. Their relationship has very little depth and evoked no emotion for me beyond the haunting story of his past. Of course, I loved that she had strong feelings about her younger sister and that those feelings play a large role in motivating her to seek out the witch but it all seemed so familiar.

Many reviews have mentioned the writing, which didn't strike me as anything special. Writing is not usually a big factor in my evaluation of a book. Instead I tend to think about how the book made me feel, which is were this book failed. I didn't feel anything but boredom although I plowed through due to the relative shortness.

Overall: This just did not work for me: I didn't feel a connection and I was bored for much of the book.


  1. I've read a few books like that too -- ones that so many people LOVED but I just didn't connect to. It's too bad that you didn't like this one because I have a good friend that keeps gushing about it!

    Thank you so much for the honest review, B! I always love hearing both sides of the argument! :)

  2. This is the very first review of this book that isn't very positive. ;) I'm sorry you felt bored with this book! I hate it when that happens. Hopefully the next book you will read is much, much better! ;)

  3. I liked this book overall, but I can see what you're saying about being bored. I would have given this a 3 or 3.5 star rating based on my initial feelings. I only bumped it up to a 4 after I had let the story sit with me for a while.


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