I loved reading one of V.E. Schwab's first books. It was so lovely to see where her writing developed from.
The Near Witch reminds me very much of Joseph Delaney's Wardstone Chronicles series which was one of my favourites growing up and remains so today. There's a quaintness to the story as though it's one that could've been told to naughty children in the area. Which is exactly what the folktale of The Near Witch within the book is. The same can be said about the writing. It's very simple but beautiful. I could almost hear the campfire in the background as I read it.
Not only was the setting interesting but so was the way the village operates. It's one of the most explicit examples of a patriarchal community, one that has a view that women are only to be wives and mothers I've seen in literature. Demonstrated by Lexi's Uncle Otto and her childhood friend Tyler. Tyler I hated, I know I was supposed to dislike him, but I reeeeeallly hated his character. Entitlement oozed from every pore of him. Otto wasn't all the much better in all honesty. V.E. Schwab has always been very good at crafting character and it's clear to see why. The only thing I wish was that the inequality was discussed and dealt with as part of the resolution. It never really was which made me a little uncomfortable. Even the end of the novel didn't reaaaally give Lexi any credit for what she did.
But I adored Lexi and her mother. I found her mother's small bursts of rebelliousness so heartwarming and wanted more of that. All we saw was an ember of the woman that she used to be. Then Lexi simply would not be bound by the constraints others tried to place upon her, nor would she bend to archaic beliefs. She was every ounce her father's daughter and his teachings seemed lightyears ahead of his time. Which I was had been more implemented at the end.
Of course, I loved Cole. I thought he was a ghost or spirit at first! This book also includes the short story Ash Boy which is Cole's origin story which I thoroughly enjoyed. I found the plot moved fairly slowly up until about the last 30-40 pages. Which I did like as it mirrored how Cole's power worked, slowly and then all at once.
A lovely lovely story that I can imagine re-reading at Halloween.
Name: The Near Witch
Author: V.E. Schwab
Publisher: Titan Books
Have you read The Near Witch?
What did you think?
Thank you for reading,