Set in an indeterminate past time and place, The Near Witch is an eerie and imaginative tale—so spooky, it’s best not read at bedtime.
Lexi Harris is a headstrong teenage girl who has lived in the village of Near her whole life. She entertains her little sister with their dead father’s stories about the moor, the Near Witch who haunts it and the enigmatic wind that blows through the village at night. When a nameless young man arrives in Near and children go missing from their beds, the village men blame the stranger without any proof. They want to punish him and make an example out of him, just like they did to the Near Witch all those years ago. Lexi is certain it’s not the stranger who has stolen the children, but the ancient witch out for revenge. She and the boy must desperately search the woods at night, looking for the witch and the missing children before the village men apprehend them both.
Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is thrilling, atmospheric and romantic. Schwab personifies the moor wind as a sinister character: “Here on the outskirts of town, the wind is always pressing close, making windows groan. It whispers and it howls and it sings. It can bend its voice and cast into any shape, long and thin enough to slide beneath the door, stout enough to seem a thing of weight and breath and bone.”
Readers who delve deep into this haunting narrative will want to double-check the locks on their bedroom windows.