Saturday, March 17, 2012

Review Comparison: The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

Review Comparison is a feature where I pull out the pros and cons of the book mentioned in my review and other bloggers' reviews.

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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.

Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab's debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won't soon forget.

Click for my original review:

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

The following bloggers kindly allowed me to include their reviews in this feature:

Read Me Bookmark Me Love Me: 5 of 5

Musings of a YA Reader: 4.5 of 5
Mindful Musings: 4 of 5 
Alison Can Read: 4 of 5
One Librarian's Book Reviews: 4 of 5
A Girl, Books and Other Things: 3 of 5
Bookworm1858: 2.5 of 5
Logan E. Turner: 2 of 5
Dreaming Dreams No Mortal Ever Dared
Everything To Do With Books 
Rainy Day Ramblings
Pica Reads
A Backwards Story
YA? Why Not?

Please click on the links to read their full reviews!


Reviewers were almost unanimous in their positive assessment of the writing, though some did not like it. Commentary on the writing style dominated most reviews.

Readers were also divided on the pacing, with some finding it too slow and difficult to get into and others stating they were sucked in immediately.

Main character Lexi was generally well liked, as were the supporting characters. Readers were again divided on the romance, though most liked the male lead.

~Writing, Pacing and Setting~


  • "...a creepy, Gothic setting with a dystopian-esque feel..." (Mindful Musings)
  • " skin crawled from the creepiness of the descriptions." (A Backwards Story)
  • "I loved the atmosphere of this fairy-tale story." (One Librarian's Book Reviews)
  • "...[the writing] didn't strike me as anything special." (Bookworm1858)
  • "...not a very plot-driven book...very atmospheric..." (Bookworm1858)
  • "...beautifully written..." (Mindful Musings)
  • " incredible writer. Her way with words is amazing." (Pica Reads)
  • "...beautiful, full of stunning descriptions that make readers feel as thought they're actually there." (A Backwards Story)
  • "...lyrical..." (Musings of A YA Reader)
  • "The story is beautifully written and captivating." (YA? Why Not?)
  • "The writing is absolutely beautiful, so evocative without being overly flowery." (A Girl, Books and Other Things)
  • " elegant way of writing that I found beautiful and hypnotic." (Logan E. Turner)
  • "Schwab's writing is dripping with detail, painting clear images in your mind, but without getting bogged down." (Logan E. Turner)
  • "...beautiful, lyrical-literary quality...I was transported...the prose never overshadowed the story." (Alison Can Read)
  • "...absolutely amazing and poetic writing style." (Everything To Do With Books)
  • "...gorgeous...spellbinding and mesmerizing...honestly some of the most breathtaking and beautiful writing I have encountered." (Rainy Day Ramblings)
  • "The writing was so beautiful and poetic...vivid descriptions...eerie and chilling tone." (Read Me, Bookmark Me, Love Me)


  • "...I didn't feel anything but boredom..." (Bookworm1858)
  • "...the first 50 pages or so were slow to me." (Dreaming Dreams No Mortal Ever Dared)
  • "...I did have [trouble] sticking to the story for long periods of time...I really had to push myself for a while." (A Girl, Books and Other Things)
  • "...the story moved a bit slow for my tastes...the stakes never felt high enough for me to care about the outcome...I felt like I was fighting reading inertia, and that the more I read, the less I could actually continue to consume." (Logan E. Turner)
  • "The story is somewhat slow and drags a little toward the end." (Rainy Day Ramblings)
  • "The story was slow, but consistently held my attention." (Alison Can Read)
  • "While not a fast-paced thriller, there is plenty of adventure...." (YA? Why Not?)
  • "The pacing was steady--never brisk, but not slow either--with creeping tension building as the story progressed. The very beginning was a touch slow for me, but I was fully invested as soon as the children started disappearing." (Small Review)
  • " kept me turning pages late into the night, and when I finally turned the lights out, I was kind of tempted to hide under the covers." (Mindful Musings)
  • "From the first page, I was sucked into the gorgeous writing that creates each scene...intense" (One Librarian's Book Reviews)
  • "...enthralling, drawing me in immediately and keeping me mesmerized until the very last page." (Read Me, Bookmark Me, Love Me)
  • "Tightly plotted to slowly ratchet up the tension." (Musings of A YA Reader)
  • "...builds at a steady pace, pulling readers in until it's impossible to put the book down." (A Backwards Story)
  • "It starts off at a steady pace that kept me interested but then things started getting really intense and suspenseful and I was completely sucked into the story until the very last page." (Everything To Do With Books)
  • "...sucked me in so completely...I couldn't put it down once I reached the climax..." (Pica Reads)
  • "Tension is high with fear of the unknown, making the book impossible to put down." (Read Me, Bookmark Me, Love Me)

  • "...creates her own folklore in a way that feels realistic...." (A Backwards Story)
  • "...exquisite...with a fairytale-like quality." (Musings of A YA Reader)
  • "...has a fairy tale quality..." (YA? Why Not?)
  • "...the entire book feels like a fairy tale retelling." (Pica Reads)
  • "It read like the fairytales of old." (Alison Can Read)
  • " enchanting book that reads like an old fairy tale." (Rainy Day Ramblings)
  • " amazing work of literary art." (Rainy Day Ramblings)
  • "...left me breathless." (Read Me, Bookmark Me, Love Me)
  • "...stoked my imagination, held my attention, and then left me with the satisfied sigh of a story well-told and neatly ended." (Small Review)
  • "...a well-crafted, unique, and beautiful tale...[but] it fell a bit flat." (Logan E. Turner)



  • "I didn't feel any connection to the characters, to the plot, to the setting." (Bookworm1858)
  • "I had a difficult time connecting with the characters...the atmosphere was so rich and so alive that I actually think it took away from the characters for me." (Small Review)
  • "...all just so vivid in my mind's eye." (Musings of A YA Reader)
  • "The interaction between the main character, Lexi, and her family was great." (Mindful Musings)
  • "...I loved that [Lexi] had strong feelings about her younger sister..." (Bookworm1858)
  • "...Wren - who made me smile from the start, she's such a well-written, adorable child." (A Girl, Books and Other Things)
  • "Lexi's mom, she didn't play a big part in the book, but she was another favorite of mine." (Dreaming Dreams No Mortal Ever Dared)
  • "I liked that Schwab took the time to develop the character of Lexi's mother." (Mindful Musings)


  • "Lexi is an admirable character, I guess. But she's so nondescript and typical of a YA heroine." (Bookworm1858)
  • "Lexi's protective instinct didn't ring quite as true for me. I thought she was just nosy and curious." (Logan E. Turner)
  • "So many times in YA books the girls of the story come off as weak, not Lexi, no way..." (Dreaming Dreams No Mortal Ever Dared)
  • "I respected Lexi a lot as a character for not simply doing what she was told." (Mindful Musings)
  • "I loved Lexi's character. She felt so real, with her own strengths and flaws...She seemed so rational...refreshing to read from her perspective." (Pica Reads)
  • "I loved Lexi. She is persistent and brave...extremely well developed." (Alison Can Read)
  • "I liked Lexi...she was the kind of person who always tried to do what was right and I admired that in her." (Everything To Do With Books)
  • "I admired her strength and tenacity." (Rainy Day Ramblings)
  • "Lexi is a brilliant protagonist as she is courageous, intelligent and not afraid to stand up for what she believes in and wants." (Read Me, Bookmark Me, Love Me)


  • "I'd get caught up into Cole's windstorm any ole day!" (Dreaming Dreams No Mortal Ever Dared)
  • "I absolutely adored Cole, he was mysterious and just really likable." (Everything To Do With Books)
  • "I loved Cole without even knowing why." (Pica Reads)
  • "Their romance was subtle yet sweet. I liked Cole very much...It's hard to put into words exactly what I liked about him. It was more of a feeling than anything else." (Alison Can Read)
  • "I never fell in love with Cole, or even believed that Lexi truly had..." (Logan E. Turner)
  • "I liked him as a character, but I didn't *love* him as a romantic interest...Since I didn't swoon for Cole, I found the romance distracting from the main mystery" (Small Review)
  • "[Cole] remains in part, a mystery." (Rainy Day Ramblings)
  • "...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..." (Read Me, Bookmark Me, Love Me)
  • "...I actually liked Cole...but I felt that [the romance] fell victim to the stereotypical YA paranormal romance syndrome...developed a bit too quickly for my taste..." (Mindful Musings)
  • "[Lexi] and Cole fell in love very quickly, much too fast for me to believe it was real." (One Librarian's Book Reviews)
  • "The only thing I didn't like about The Near Witch was the seemed to come out of the blue and felt unbelievable to me." (Musings of A YA Reader)
  • " bothered me that [Lexi] got so swept up in the new boy in town. I felt they had no chemistry." (Logan E. Turner)


  • "The ending was pretty good, but what I didn't like was after all the build-up and the excellent story telling, it just kind of fell flat for me." (One Librarian's Book Reviews)
  • "The ending felt a little leaves a few unanswered questions." (Rainy Day Ramblings)
  • "..ended so perfectly and satisfyingly, the climax and conclusion executed very well. There were no abrupt endings, no empty feelings of incompleteness." (Read Me, Bookmark Me, Love Me)

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  1. It's been so long since I've read this book (although I remembered my negative impression) so it was nice to catch up and see what other people thought. I do hope to try another book by Schwab at some time with hopefully characters more to my taste.

    1. I'm really looking forward to her book The Archived. I hope it's a little faster paced.

  2. I wanted to like this since I love witches so much but it was painfully slow...

    1. It was pretty slow. I ended up liking it more when I was finished with it than I did while I was reading it, if that makes sense.

  3. Hm.... I was not sure about this book even before this post but now, I'm even less sure. I loved this comparisons since the show that every book has its lovers and "haters" :)

    1. I agree, I love seeing the different points of view. I think you should be able to tell pretty early on if the style and characters are to your taste. To me, this was a quiet book, but I appreciated it.

  4. Ooers.
    :) Well, I gotta say that what I liked the most about this book is that it attempted to tell more of an old-fashioned fairytale, you know? But yeah, I still think the pace was a bit off.

    1. I do know what you mean. I liked it when it was all said and done, but the pacing made it a bit more of a struggle to get through. At least for an impatient reader like me :P

  5. I love this feature, I know I tell you everytime, but it is fun to see all the comparisons. Yes, this book was a it slow but it was worth reading for the amazing writing. Thanks for taking the time to put this together. Remind me what the next book is so I can get you my review.

    1. I love that you tell me every time :) It takes a lot of time to put these posts together, so I love hearing positive feedback for them. Thank you! The next one is The Goddess Test, but I think I have all the reviews I can handle right now with my move. After that I'll have this feature on hold for probably about a month while I settle in and then I'll be sure to let you know :)

  6. Oh wow this is great! Thanks for sharing all of this must have taken forever to put together.

    1. It does take a while, so I'm happy to hear you liked it! :D

  7. I know this is a difficult and time consuming thing for you to do, but I so appreciate you doing this. It helps so much. I love seeing that bloggers' opinions run the gamut. I guess it just depends on the reader and what they like and expect from the book. Thanks for doing this Small.


  8. Ah, I love being a part of one of these finally - what a great way to see many people's opinions in one post!

    1. I'm so happy to have been able to include your review :D

  9. This is such a brilliant feature. It's so good being able to see varying opinions without having to read a ton of reviews. I've had this book on my TBR shelf for what feels like forever. I should really get round to reading it!

    1. Thank you! I'm so glad you like it. What you said is exactly what I was going for :)

      I hope you enjoy The Near Witch!

  10. I'm sorry I didn't comment on this. I love your review comparisons. It's so much fun to see my notes incorporated. I can't wait for your next one.


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