The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab (Hyperion, 2011)
Summary from publisher:
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
THERE ARE NO STRANGERS
IN THE TOWN OF NEAR.These are 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.
Fantasy is not my favorite genre, but I find that I'm reading more and more of it. This is a fantasy story that I really enjoyed reading. I found myself caught up in Lexi's search for the real reason why the children of Near are going missing as well as her sweet romance with the mysterious boy who suddenly appears in town. Lexi is a strong character who thinks for herself, and I like that she didn't necessarily bow to the expectations of what a "good girl" does in this particular village. If it weren't for Lexi's determination to find the truth behind the disappearances, worse things might have happened to the village.
I wish Hyperion had chosen a different cover for this book. Yes, the main character is a girl, but the story isn't necessarily a girly story. The cover, though, is very girly. I don't really see how the cover art relates to the story at all. While I know you shouldn't choose a book based on the cover art, it does affect my decision whether or not to read a book, and I get frustrated when the art seems to have nothing to do with the story!
Enough with the rant... check out The Near Witch. It's a compelling fantasy story with a touch of romance thrown in for good measure.