Victoria Schwab. The Near Witch. Hyperion Books. 2011
The trees all whisper, leaves gossiping. The stones are heavy thinkers, the sullen silent types. If the moor wind ever sings, you mustn't listen, not with all of your ears. Use only the edges. Listen the way you'd look out the corner of your eyes. The wind is lonely, love, and always looking for company.
The town of Near is full of suspicion due to a haunting past. One night, many claim to see the smoky image of a man outside their homes, a man they dub as "stranger." The next night, a child disappears from his bed without a trace. The next night, another. Thus begins this tale of trust, loyalty, and love.
Lexie is the novel's heroine, a tracker who refuses to give in so easily to suspicion. She understands that the moor carries many secrets, and if one is willing to listen, the moor is willing to reveal them. Lexis has a simple mission - to find the missing children and return them safely to their homes; however, in order to do so, she must defy her uncle, her family, her town, herself. The only ones willing to listen and help Lexie look beyond the suspicion and into the heart of the cause are two old sisters and the stranger.
The author is a gifted storyteller, creating a delightfully frightening fairy tale and love story. From the characters to the legend of the Near Witch, she develops the plot carefully and completely, adding a few twists and turns that make it almost impossible to put this novel down. The novel's conclusion is also nicely developed, and with only pages left for readers, does not feel rushed but purposed and complete, making this one of my favorite reads of 2011.
Victoria Schwab's debut novel is going to make a strong showing in YA literature, and with tales such as this, she is going to be a force to reckon with.
The Near Witch will make its debut on bookshelves Tuesday, August 2. Go out and get a copy; you will not be disappointed.
This copy for review was provided by NetGalley. A thousand thank yous to them.