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  • The Near Witch

  • Written by: V. E. Schwab
  • Narrated by: Heather Wilds
  • Length: 9 hrs and 28 mins
  • 3.9 out of 5 stars (25 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"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. 

This new edition of The Near Witch also included the in-universe short story "The Ash-Born Boy" and a never-before-seen introduction from V. E. Schwab.

©2019 V. E. Schwab (P)2019 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about The Near Witch

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A Bit Disappointing

As a bonus to the audiobook, there was also the short story The Ash-Born Boy, so this is a quasi-review of both.

Lexi knows certain truths about the town she lives in: the Near Witch is just a story, the wind is lonely and looking for company, and there are no strangers in the town of Near. But a stranger appears out of the mist, and children start disappearing. Lexi knows he isn't to blame, that she can trust him, and as they search for the missing, Lexi discovers she needs to know more, more about the Near Witch might not just be a story, more about the calling wind, and more about the stranger without a name.

There’s a bit of magic in reading an author’s first book, especially when you know and love their later works. Guess what I discovered? Schwab’s ideas have always been original and her prose has always been impressive. This story is simple in scope (but not in a negative way). It‘s about a small village attacking one particular problem. It’s a mystery of sorts that kept me guessing.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the book I was hoping for. Maybe my expectations because I've read all of her other books and loved them meant that I wouldn't enjoy this as much. Either way, I just didn’t feel the grip and excitement I was expecting.

It felt a lot like reading the Lament duology by Maggie Stiefvater - good but not their best work, and probably worse for wear since I had consumed so many other and more recent novels first. And in all fairness, it was originally published in 2011, so instalove and underexplaining were all the rage then.

I thought Cole was a little underdeveloped which made the romance stale to me, but having the short-story explain more about him and his past really brought him up in my mind. There was so much more I wanted from the romance there and the interactions that we didn't get. Instalove was way too real here and it made me roll my eyes. Not only did Lexi not know him, but he barely spoke the entire time he was on screen! Infuriating.

I think if you're interested in reading it and have been a fan of Victoria Schwab, you'll probably enjoy it. But otherwise it's a miss for me.

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Amazing Author, Robotic Narrator

I wanted to listen to the entire book, but the narrator was terrible. Herr cadence did not flow with the story and I kept having to rewind because I could not concentrate on the story. It was like listening to Alexa or Siri read the book and I finally returned it. I will have to go buy the hard copy because there's no way I can listen to this narrator.

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Pretty darn good story and performance.

I really like the performers voice, but the audio could have been better recorded. It has a hiss and sounds a bit tin-y. it also sounds like it has been edited to try to limit these problems, as the silences between words don't have the hiss. It probably won't be very noticeable with average earphones or earbuds, but mine are good and I use an amplifier to drive them. I just lowered the volume a bit to listen. This should not discourage people from listening to this wonderful story.

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The Narrator put me off but enjoyed story line

I really enjoy V. E. Schwabs audible books till now but Heather as the narrator with her staccato style reading put me off. I will look to get this from the library to read.

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  • Tara
  • 2019-03-19

Unlistenable

I really like V.E. Schwab, and I really wanted to like this book. The narration makes that almost impossible.
Heather Wilds speaks with such an odd cadence that I found it completely distracting. She ends every phrase with an upward lilt, and accents words that don’t really require any extra emphasis. She can effectively turn a single sentence into three or four different ones. If I find the time I may try to actually read this.

40 people found this helpful

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  • Amanda
  • 2019-11-08

Unable to get beyond the first few minutes

Sing songy narration that has a slight pause every third or fourth word making the sentences feel disjointed. I felt a bit sea sick from the rhythmic ebb and flow of misplaced pauses and odd inflections.

21 people found this helpful

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  • Pam
  • 2019-09-14

Bad narrator

I really thought I would like this one, and I will probably try just reading the print book, but the narrator is horrible! She barely changes her tone and it is just hard to find the story when you’re trying to understand what she even said. I tried changing speeds and just can’t do it. I bailed after ch. 2.

17 people found this helpful

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  • Nora
  • 2019-03-21

poor narrator

struggled to finish... narrator read with a rythm hard to follow. Accent is a turn off.
please sample before purchase
I want my credit back

15 people found this helpful

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  • Asgard Oakenshield
  • 2019-04-10

Disappointing narrator, she’s reading like a constant wave in a lake.

Narrator reads it like it’s not a novel but a response on a church service. Notice she makes this “cadence” when reading the whole story. It ruined the whole novel.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Adilene Sanchez
  • 2019-05-13

Worst narrator

What in the world. The narrator reads one sentence then paused. One sentence then pauses. One sentence then pauses. Definitely needs another narrator. It’s kinda monotones. Definitely listen to the sample first! I definitely didn’t even get past the first chapter before returning it.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Jo Sherling
  • 2019-10-16

poor narration, good story

The quality of the story is the only reason I was able to make it through this book. The pacing and inflection used by the narrator constantly pulled me out of the story and grated on my nerves. Ms Wilds puts emphasis on the last word of a phrase in a very odd manner that reminds me of a poetry reading but is not good for the flow of the tale. Her character voices and inflection during the character dialog portions was quite good if only she could stop that odd and jarring emphasis.

6 people found this helpful

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  • TheHappyHouseWife
  • 2019-09-30

The hardest listen yet.

The story could be amazing, but thanks to the narrator I won’t know. It is horrible!! Her sentences run on with this upward sounding tone and the end of them. It’s like commas and periods don’t exist.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Maria Dominguez
  • 2019-12-24

Great Story. Really bad narrator. ☹️

This narrator was really bad. I almost stopped listening to the story because of how bad the reading was.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Dee
  • 2019-04-01

Victoria Always Had It!

Beautiful. Definitely a story worth reading if you aren't too interested in the overly intense.

2 people found this helpful