Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Near Witch (V.E. Schwab)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

”The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.”

It’s no secret I’m a huge Victoria Schwab fan so I was very curious about her debut novel and how it would be written. It’s always interesting to see how your favourite authors started out and how their writing style developed and changed with time. This said I absolutely loved and adored the atmosphere in here! Schwab’s writing style in „The Near Witch” reminded me a lot of Maggie Stiefvater’s books and I’m so glad I finally decided to read this! There is something magical about the description of the moor and you can almost feel the wind pushing against the window pane, trying to make its way into the house.

”I catch my breath as the stranger’s eyes find mine. Eyes as dark as river stones and yet somehow shining, soaking up moonlight. Eyes that widen a fraction as they meet my own. A single, long, unblinking look. And then in an instant the stranger seems to break apart, a sharp gust of wind tears through, and the shutters slam closed against the glass.”

So what’s “The Near Witch” about? I suppose you could say it’s a tale as old as time. There is this close-knit community of Near and everyone knows everyone. There are no strangers in Near and if someone visits their quiet village the Council makes sure they don’t stay long. It’s the way Near has been run for centuries and it’s the only way they know. So once a stranger appears and children begin to vanish from their beds in the middle of the night everyone already knows who’s the culprit. Of course it’s the stranger and the Council is more than just ready to do what is necessary in order to get their children back.

”Fear is a strange thing,” he used to say. “It has the power to make people close their eyes, turn away. Nothing good grows out of fear.”

It’s that kind of fear that is palpable throughout the entire book and it covers the village like a suffocating coat of fog. The more children disappear, the thicker it gets and with every night, with every vanished child, the villagers get more and more restless and desperate to find the stranger. What I really liked about this book was the fact that Schwab didn’t only create a world you could imagine vividly but she also fabricated an environment that displayed a lot of important issues as well. The atmosphere in this is amazing, the plot might be slow but the characters are more complex than meets the eye and every character has its own story to tell. No matter if it’s Lexi’s uncle Otto who means well but only knows what he’s been taught for years, no matter if it’s Lexi’s mother who lost her husband way too soon, but still tries her best to help her daughters to survive in a world dominated by men. There are so many topics that are tackled it’s actually kind of astonishing. “The Near Witch” covers xenophobia, hostility towards women, prejudices, loss, grief and even some psychological themes like self-hatred and feelings of guilt. And yes, it doesn’t even shy away from ethical issues.

”I choose to believe, Miss Harris, that the Council did what they thought was – not right; right is the wrong word. What they thought was necessary.”
“She didn’t kill the boy.”
He finally looks at me. “I doubt it mattered.”

The quote above is so powerful because it’s the people of Near in a nutshell. Everything that’s foreign is bad and once people set their minds on something there’s no turning back. Their ignorance and prejudices made me so angry and just like Lexi I tried to fight them tooth and nail. Magda and Dreska were two of my favourite characters and their unfaltering wisdom as well as their slightly eerie presence made for a great atmosphere. Can I have a Magda and Deska in my life please? =)

”All Near knows.”
“All Near forgets.”
“Or tries.”
All Near tries to forget? Before I can make sense of it, the sisters’ voices begin to overlap, and the sound is haunting.
“But we remember.”

The Near witch was quite a formidable antagonist and some of the scenes actually caused me to get goose bumps. As for the love story between Lexi and Cole: Well, it was pretty insta-lovey but I didn’t mind because the focus of the book was clearly on other things. 😉 I loved the dynamic between those two though and it reminded me a lot of the relationship between Puck and Sean in Maggie Stiefvater’s “The Scorpio Races”. Lexi was a passionate wild child and Cole more the quiet and composed kind of boy. Guess opposites will always attract. Their gentleness sometimes almost killed me. *lol*

He looks out over my head to the east, eyes shining, but I can see the edge of his mouth quirk.
“Look at me,” I say, running my fingers along his jaw and turning his face back to mine. “I’m still here.”
Cole kisses me once, a quiet, desperate kiss. I can taste the pain on his lips, the hint of salt.

All told I loved to read this intriguing story! The early Victoria Schwab was already a great writer and the atmosphere of this book was amazing! By now I think there is nothing Schwab can’t write and I’m really looking forward to read all of her other books. If you enjoy books with a haunting and gloomy atmosphere, if you like tales of witches and are fond of the moor, if you dig a little dash of romance in your tales, then this one is for you! 😉

Allgemein, Bookish Fox Knowledge

April Wrap-Up

Wrap Up

I guess April must have been the worst reading month ever because I can’t remember a single time I only managed to read 4 books in an entire month. *lol* I guess my bad health and trying to function like a normal human being eventually took its toll on me. >_< Not being able to breathe properly causes me to be exhausted and between giving 100% at work, doing household chores and taking care of my kid I was too tired to read at night.

The fact that I’m currently reading 6 books that all have more than 300+ pages („A Court of Silver Flame“ even has 757) certainly didn’t help to finish them either. *lol* So yeah, my reading suffered and I fell in some sort of involuntary reading slump. (Is a reading slump ever voluntary? XD) I can only hope that my appointment at the docs will help to get my health under control… well either this or that all those pollen finally cease to fly around like there’s no tomorrow. >_<

I still managed to maintain my BookTube channel and my blog though so there’s that! Also if any of you enjoy my BookTube channel please make sure to spread your positive energy over there as well! =) I’m not gonna lie, sometimes it feels pretty lonely on BookTube and even though I try to engage with other YouTubers it’s not easy to become a part of that close-knit group. Guess that’s the reason why I’m usually steering clear of social media and stick to goodreads and wordpress instead. Why did I start a YouTube channel again? *lol*

Anyway! Let’s talk about the good things of life and spread postive vibes by talking about the few books I manged to read in April!

Books read: 4 (4 books & 0 webcomic, I really hope I’ll read more in May again. Four books is a personal low. *lol*)

Pages read:  1.553 (Those books were all pretty short so the page count isn’t very high this time around.)

Average rating: 4,0 (I might have read only four books but they were all great in their own way so the rating was actually pretty high. =)

Books that were on my reading list:  2 (from 2020 and 0 from 2021. I tried to work off a couple of books from my TBR 2020. ;-P )

April Reads:

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Wicked Lovely: 4 Pfoten

This book series will always be among my favourites and I’ll never get tired of speaking about it. Melissa Marr wrote ruthless and cunning faeries long before Sarah J. Maas and Holly Black did so this was the first faerie series I ever read. And it totally got me hooked on faeries. I’ll be forever grateful I stumbled upon it in my library. XD „Wicked Lovely“ is the first book in the series and a really slow read, the series picks up pace in the other books though. If you want to read my full review you can do it here! ;-P

Jack of Hearts (And Other Parts): 4 Pfoten

What a great LGBTQ+ book! The cast was diverse, the story line intriguing and the mystery element more than just compelling! Moreover this is finally a YA book that doesn’t shy away from speaking the truth about being intimate with each other. Jack’s voice is blunt, honest and straightforward. His advice is great and I think every teen should read this book! „Jack of Hearts“ was super realistic and didn’t romanticize sex the way YA novels usually do so that was great! If you want to know more just read my review!

Serpent & Dove: 4 Pfoten

I read this as a love story and not as a fantasy book because a lot of people warned me that the focus is on the romance. Thankfully I got that warning because if I’d have read it as a fantasy book I might have been disappointed. If given a chance the world building could be really interesting and I hope the author will explore it in the second book. The great idea is there it just needs to be brought to life. 😉 Also this felt pretty insta-lovey to me even though we’re dealing with the enemies-to-lovers trope so mhmm… I wasn’t an all too big fan of that sudden love. *lol*

The Near Witch: 4 Pfoten

This was such a great debut novel and I loved to read it! Schwab can do mysterious, magical and atmospheric we all know that. I just didn’t know she can do poetic too. XD Well, after reading this I finally know and I’m so glad I picked this up and gave „The Near Witch“ a chance. =) It’s always interesting to see where an author started and as expected this was a great beginning for an amazing career.

Rankenzeile

How was your April? Did you read more books than I did? (I hope you did! *lol*) Were you in a reading slump as well? Are you on BookTube? Which books did you read and did you love them? Can you recommend them?

Talk to me and let me know! 😉

*hugs’n’kisses*

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The Sassy Library Fox