The Near Witch left me breathless. It's a blend of mystery, drama and romance, set in a world where fairy tales can come true. I found the novel to be completely magical and enthralling, drawing me in immediately and keeping me mesmerised until the very last page. The writing was so beautiful and poetic, the words settling over me like a blanket and cocooning me in its allure. The vivid descriptions made it easy to visualise myself in the town of Near, experiencing the fear and frustration with all of the characters. The novel has an eerie and chilling tone throughout and is definitely one that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Lexi is in big trouble. Someone or something is luring children out from their bedrooms at night and they'll be lost forever if she doesn't figure out who is behind it soon. There's a new boy in town who's helping her but unfortunately, everyone else thinks different. Lexi lives with her mother and younger sister in the town of Near so her uncle, Otto, frequently visits as her father is dead. Otto is frustratingly stubborn, set in his beliefs that girls should not hunt and should be at home cooking and cleaning. He thinks that Lexi wanting to follow in her father's footsteps as a hunter and tracker is absurd, and doesn't understand why she would want to do such a thing. Otto becomes a crucial character in the novel, becoming the main cause of much heartbreak, fear and anger.
Lexi is a brilliant protagonist as she is courageous, intelligent and not afraid to stand up for what she believes in and wants. What she wants is the children safe…and Cole, the nameless boy she sees one night through her window. She gives him a name and the two embark on a terrifying adventure together, becoming drawn to each other in the process. Their relationship isn't particularly "romantic", but boy is it a good love story. It was developed perfectly at just the right pace, it made sense and wasn't instantaneous, the emotions between the two were realistic and the conflicts they faced were heart-wrenching, though they only strengthened the relationship more each time. Otto and other members of the community wanted someone to blame for the kidnappings. Who more convenient than a stranger? Their blatant disregard for the truth was atrocious, especially when you learnt that history was just repeating itself. People become desperate when in fear and as the book says, nothing good ever comes out of it.
There is plenty of action in the novel as Lexi and Cole race against the clock to save both him and the children. Tension is high with fear of the unknown, making the book impossible to put down. The novel ended so perfectly and satisfyingly, the climax and conclusion executed very well. There were no abrupt endings, no empty feelings of incompleteness. Just perfection. The Near Witch is a magnificent read that everyone needs to go out and buy on August 2nd. The story is mysterious, exciting and something you won't be forgetting anytime soon. This is Victoria's debut novel and her future work is guaranteed to be a hit!
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