The Near Witch [book review]

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

3 & a half out of five, this was a good’un!

Key Aspects…

  • Gothic Moors
  • Nature Magic
  • Suspicious Strangers
  • Kidnapping
  • Old Legends

Well what can I say about The Near Witch? This has been my first introduction to VE Schwab... I’ve considered buying her books for a long time but prioritised others over hers as YA is not normally my preference. I knew that I would probably like them but there were others I wanted more. That was until I saw a post from Schwab comparing her novels to popular fandoms. The Invisible Life of Addie Larue (which I’m eagerly awaiting) was described as a mixture of Interview with the Vampire & Faust, The Archived was described as a mix of Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Sixth Sense, & finally The Near Witch as Grimms & Elemental Witches. So naturally I snatched up The Archived & The Near Witch. It may not have been the one I was most drawn to by these comparisons – but it certainly was the one I wanted to read based on the blurb.

The Near Witch was both gloriously the best book ever, & also not my cup of tea. I absolutely adored the setting (the moors), the backstory of an old witch who still called in the wind to children playing, the nursery rhymes the children sang outside that sounded so real & so chilling to me, the imagery when we finally got the meet The Near Witch & see her garden… it sticks with me even now. If I shut my eyes I can see the near witch in her garden of dead wood. I can hear the old sisters who live at the top of the hill, isolated from the rest of town. I can smell the bread that Lexi’s mother is always baking. My only complaint is that the protagonist herself & some of her more ‘homely’ problems were a bit too YA for me – but it is a YA book so I can’t really complain. It is what it says on the tin. I don’t begrudge a book, or an author for that. If a book did not meet our expectations based on it’s blurb, cover & premise then it surely is a failure. I just personally am not a big YA fan – some of the tropes annoy me now that I am a grown woman & mother. I undoubtedly would have loved EVERY aspect of this book had I come across it when I was 14.

But for it’s tiny shortcomings… the rest really makes up for it. I so desperately want The Near Witch to be made into a film just so that I can actually watch that penultimate scene with the witch develop in front of me. The visuals were SO powerful in the book that I have no doubts they could be recreated perfectly in film. I highly suggest anyone who loves gothic, dark old fashioned fairytale witches & stories that leave you thrilled & terrified then this is the book for you. It is a book that I will most definitely be reading again. If I could condense it down to read aloud around a campfire I would. It would undoubtedly would be the best story told that night. The Near Witch has earned a place close to my heart with it’s fantastic imagination & storytelling. It is well worth a read.

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