Review: The Near Witch

Posted March 12, 2019

The Near Witch Is Back!

Like all fans of V. E. Schwab, I’m so excited today to see Titan republish The Near Witch, Schwab’s previously out-of-print debut.

The team at Titan have put together a gorgeous deluxe edition, complete with an introduction and a wonderful, previously unseen, short story by V. E. Schwab.

The Near Witch

Schwab has talked in the past about the heartbreak of seeing The Near Witch go out-of-print, so I can only imagine her emotions today, seeing that debut novel back on the shelves.

Personally, I’m delighted to finally get my hands on The Near Witch, the book that started Schwab’s incredible writing journey.

My Thoughts On The Book

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Near Witch The Near Witch by V. E. Schwab
Published by Titan on 12th March 2019 (republication)
Genres: Fantasy, YA Fantasy, Paranormal
Format: Hardback
Source: Publisher

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.

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.

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.

Let me tell you, had I read The Near Witch “back in the day” when it was first published in 2011, I’d have been stunned that this was a debut novel. Schwab’s beautifully crafted prose, her description, world-building and intriguing characters are all evident in this, her first book.

Set in a village called Near, on the edge of the moors, this is a wonderfully atmospheric novel.

When a stranger is spotted in the village, and his arrival coincides with the gradual disappearance of Near’s children, the villagers are quick to blame the stranger. Not so Lexi, a teenage girl whose late father taught her to track, to respect the moors and their winds, and that witches can be good or bad.

I recently listen to a Podcast interview with V. E. Schwab (you can find it here) in which she talked about the theme of outsiders that runs through her work. I was interested to listen to her discussions about the stranger in The Near Witch, and the ways in which she drew inspiration from her own life. I definitely recommend giving it a listen – I could listen to V. E. Schwab all day!

As for The Near Witch itself, I really enjoyed it. I loved the atmosphere and environment that Schwab weaves with her words. There was a case of ‘instalove’ which I wasn’t so keen on but let’s just ignore that shall we?

Overall, it’s a wonderful story, with a folktale feel to it. It’s obviously Schwab’s debut so it’s the start of her writing journey, but you can see the future V. E. Schwab within these pages. This story, the writing, the feel is SO V. E. Schwab. I’m so glad to finally have this book in my collection.

The Ash-Born Boy Short Story

I had to give mention to the exclusive in-universe short story, The Ash-Born Boy. It’s wonderful and so absorbing. I honestly loved it – 50 pages and I could’ve read 500 more. It’s the perfect addition to this beautiful edition.

Signed / Exclusive Editions

A quick note… in the UK you can get your hands on signed, exclusive editions from Forbidden Planet. They do ship internationally too.

The Near Witch Forbidden Planet Edition

If you’re in the US, Barnes & Noble have exclusive gold editions!

As always, there are no affiliate links in this post.