There are loads of fairy tales that aren’t for children. I mean, heck, most of the classic fairy tales are totally inappropriate for children! But the modern fairy tales that are written for teens and adults usually fall flat with me. There’s just too much of an effort to subvert things, and I’m kind of sick of reading stories retold from a feminist/villain/minor character’s point of view, and I don’t like Neil Gaiman that much (though Stardust, his fairy tale, is probably my favorite of his books–go figure).
A couple of weeks ago I got an advance copy of The Near Witch in the mail. It’s written by one of my internet friends, Victoria Schwab, who I think is approximately the most adorable person on earth. I was kind of nervous to read it, because I like Victoria SO much and I wanted to like her book too.
SPOILER ALERT: I liked Victoria’s book. In fact, I kind of loved it.
There is something incredible about her prose. I don’t know how to describe it except to say that I felt like someone was telling me a story. You understand what I mean, don’t you? I felt like I’d been taken into the confidence of the storyteller and let into this world to watch the story unfold.
Here’s what I want from a fairy tale: magic, setting, and if I am very lucky an emphasis on the importance/power of stories.
Here is what I got from The Near Witch: all of that.
The only thing I didn’t love about the book was the romance, which is a small subplot and was not sufficiently distracting to be a problem. And here’s the thing: I am really hard to please when it comes to love stories. This one didn’t do anything wrong, it just didn’t capture my interest. And that’s okay.
Other reviews are comparing Victoria to Neil Gaiman. I can see the similarities. Near has some things in common with Wall, for instance. But just between us, I think Victoria is the better writer.
Plus, she bakes something called chocolate cake cookies. If I ever eat wheat, dairy, or sugar again I am going to make her give me the recipe.