Title: Sea Witch
Author: Sarah Henning
Release Date: July 31st 2018
Everyone knows what happens in the end.
A mermaid, a prince, a true love’s kiss.
But before that young siren’s tale, there were three friends.
One feared, one royal, and one already dead.
Ever since her best friend, Anna, drowned, Evie has been an outcast in her small fishing town. A freak. A curse. A witch.
A girl with an uncanny resemblance to Anna appears offshore and, though the girl denies it, Evie is convinced that her best friend actually survived. That her own magic wasn’t so powerless after all. And, as the two girls catch the eyes – and hearts – of two charming princes, Evie believes that she might finally have a chance at her own happily ever after.
But her new friend has secrets of her own. She can’t stay in Havnestad, or on two legs, unless Evie finds a way to help her. Now Evie will do anything to save her friend’s humanity, along with her prince’s heart—harnessing the power of her magic, her ocean, and her love until she discovers, too late, the truth of her bargain.
The rise of Hans Christian Andersen’s iconic villainess is a heart-wrenching story of friendship, betrayal, and a girl pushed beyond her limits—to become a monster.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
My Thoughts On…
Evie is an outcast in her town, scorn follows her both because of her friendship with the crown prince Nik and because of the whispers about her power. On Nik’s sixteenth birthday, when a storm knocks him overboard and the sea almost claims his life, he is saved by a creature Evie can only believe was a mermaid. Days later a girl appears ashore; a girl who looks so much like the mermaid who saved Nik, and the best friend Evie lost to the sea four years ago.
There’s a lot of hype surrounding this book but from what I read it’s all well deserved, and everyone who can’t wait to get their hands on Sea Witch is going to love it. Sea Witch doesn’t just focus on the present as Evie helps Annemette and Nik fall in love to ensure that Mette can stay on land when her time is up, but also takes us back four years ago to the day Evie and Nik lost their friend Anna, giving us a better understanding of the friendship this story is built on.
Evie is convinced Annemette is her friend returned from the sea, but Mette has been a mermaid her whole life. She fell in love with Nik when she saved him and now she has four days to get him to fall in love with her in return, because if Mette doesn’t receive her true loves kiss before the fourth day is up she’ll die. Evie is determined not to lose her friend a second time around and she plans to do everything in her power, use every drop of magic running through her veins, to save Annemette.
Sea Witch is a beautiful story; Sarah Henning focuses on the friendship between Evie and Anna, and Evie and Annemette more than she does the romance which is a refreshing change of pace. This is a slow paced read; it builds up the characters, their relationships and what’s they have at stake, before delivering a tense conclusion with a couple of twists I didn’t see coming, but which made me fall in love with this book and the writing even more.
Evie was not who I expected from a book retelling the story of the villain in The Little Mermaid. She has power but it is still untrained so she uses it to perform small enchantments, protecting the whalers that dock in the harbour and bringing fish back to the sea to help them profit. She has lived the past four years facing the scorn and rumours and stares from the village, those who see Evie’s friendship with Nik as her reaching above her place as a simple fisherman’s daughter, but she is still a kind and loyal person.
It’s the friendship between Evie and Nik, Evie and Anna, and Evie and Annemette that really made this book for me. Before Anna died four years ago it was always the three of them together, then once Anna died it was always Evie and Nik together. She loves her friends so much and she’s willing to do anything, go to any lengths for them. Evie loves Nik but in a way she would love her brother, she doesn’t let the opinions of the townspeople get to her because both she and Nik know their relationship isn’t what they think it is.
The friendship between Evie and Annemette is a lot more interesting to see develop, and a lot more complicated. Evie truly believes Annemette is Anna returned from the sea, no matter how often Mette protests it isn’t the case. I think Evie loves Mette as much as she did Anna but she struggles to separate the two of them in her mind. Part of her still holds on to that hope that Mette is Anna returned, that the dreams the two of them had as children, as Anna and Evie, can continue now they’re adults, Mette and Evie.
Annemette came to dry land for true love, and she’s so delighted by everything she comes across in Havnestad. Mette seems very innocent at first, believing that Nik will feel the same way she does the second he sees her, but the closer to her deadline they get the more worried she becomes, wondering if her choice was a mistake. There are a lot of layers to Mette’s character, and I can’t go too far into them for fear of spoilers, but I thought she was an incredible character to explore in this story.
If I had to pick a favourite aspect of Sea Witch (tied with the incredible friendships this book chose to develop) I’d say it was the world building. Throughout the four days Mette is in Havnestad the town are celebrating Lithasblot, a five-day festival full of games, singing, food and celebration that gives us a real feel for the culture and customs of the city. It was a great way to introduce more of the world, and reading a lot of the descriptions of the food made me really hungry. For the people of Havnestad, who make their living fishing, the sea is more of a person than a thing; a fickle goddess who takes as much as she gives. Although she doesn’t have a voice in Sea Witch the sea was as much of a character as Evie was.
When it comes to fairytale retelling Sea Witch is going to go down as one of my favourites, and possibly one of my favourite reads of 2018 as well. This book has everything I love; magic and risk, incredible friendships, and beyond incredible world building. I’d highly recommend this book, it’s actually hard to believe Sea Witch is Sarah Henning’s debut release.
What did you think of Sea Witch? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.
All quotes have been taken from an ARC and may differ in the final publication.