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Reviewed by:
  • The Near Witch
  • Karen Coats
Schwab, Victoria. The Near Witch. Hyperion, 2011. [282p]. ISBN 978-1-4231-3787-0 $16.99 R Gr. 7–10.

Lexi lives with her little sister and her mother on the outskirts of Near, a village that doesn’t like strangers or witches. The locals are therefore already suspicious of a strange new boy in the area, but when their children start disappearing in the night without a trace, they threaten to become murderous, suspecting the stranger to be a witch. Lexi, however, sees witches differently; she was influenced by the stories told by her father, who was fascinated by the power that flows through the moor and respectful of the witches who could channel that power. As more children start disappearing and the town’s anger toward the strange boy grows, Lexi takes it upon herself to befriend him, and with his help she attempts to solve the mystery of the disappearing children. Lexi’s investigations lead her to the truth behind the legend, and she and the stranger, whom she calls Cole, must fight to save the children before it’s too late. A pervasive atmosphere of mystery is evoked immediately by the beautifully haunting words the bedtime stories Lexi tells her sister and weaves its way through the narrative as the eerie, disturbing tale of the legendary Near Witch unfolds; the mood is heavy with dark and persistent foreboding as the men of the village threaten to repeat a destructive history. Sunshine peeks in, though, as Lexi and Cole develop their relationship; Cole, it turns out, is haunted by his own powers, but Lexi is enough like her father in both strength and open-mindedness to help him understand that those powers can be a blessing as well as a curse. Splendidly imagined and delightfully spooky, this evocative tale will appeal to readers who enjoy folkloric traditions.



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