ARC Review: Sea Witch

Sea Witch

Title: Sea Witch

Author: Sarah Henning

Series: N/A

Publisher: HarperCollins

Release Date: July 31st 2018


Five Stars

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

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts On…

…The Plot

“We’re superstitious, children of the sea, but we’re not gullible.
Mermaids don’t exist.
But I know what I saw. I know who I saw.”

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.

Falling in love in four days seems…unrealistic, to say the least.
I temper my words carefully. “How can you tell when he truly loves you?”
Annemette’s face goes dreamy again. “True love’s kiss is all I need.”

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.

…The Characters

“That girl—lived while her best friend drowned.
That girl—thinks her father’s job gives her keys to the castle.
That girl—thinks herself more than a passing fancy for the playboy prince.”

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.

“Tears sting my eyes as I realise that even with Nik’s brotherly friendship and Iker’s new affection, I’m still just a lonely fisherman’s daughter.
A lonely fisherman’s daughter wishing that I could have my sweet friend back. Wishing hard enough that I’m seeing ghosts.”

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 still seems confident, and I’m obeying her request that I not intervene, at least not magically, but the thought of losing another friend to the sea is almost unbearable. First Anna, then nearly Nik, and now Annemette.”

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.

…The Setting

“The sea is a fickle witch.
She is just as likely to bestow a kiss as to steal the breath from your lips. Beautiful and cruel, and every glimmering wrinkle in between. Filing our bellies and coffers when she is generous. Coolly watching as we don black and add tears to her waters when she is wicked.”

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.

41 thoughts on “ARC Review: Sea Witch

  1. The cover for this book is gorgeous! The actual story of it sounds very intriguing and I definitely plan on picking it up in the future. 😀 I tend to enjoy fairy tale retellings, so I’m most likely going to enjoy this book as well. Also, I’m glad to see that you enjoyed it! 🙂 It makes me even more exited to pick it up.
    Amazing review Beth! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah it was the cover that caught my eye first of all, that and the fact that it’s a fairytale retelling which I cannot resist! 🙂 I really do hope you enjoy this one Anna, it’s a brilliant read and I know a lot of people were really excited for its release so I kind of hope it lives up to everyone’s expectations!
      Thanks so much! 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Heard a lot about this book, and now your review makes me want to read it even more 😀 ❤ Lovely Review Beth! And with THAT VILLAIN ORIGIN STORY premise woohoo!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely review! ❤ I haven't read this before and based on other reviews and yours, this doesn't really seem like a villain origin story, which the synopsis indicated? This is high up on my TBR and I thought it would be more of a dark fantasy as the sea-witch-to-be slowly succumbs to her "dark side". I'm really curious about your thoughts! Would you consider this a dark fantasy or a relationship-driven one? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much. 🙂 I do think this is a villain origin story, you can see from the actions taken what leads the MC down the road that makes her becomes to sea witch but I wouldn’t say it’s a really dark fantasy. In a way that’s kind of what I liked though, I feel like it would be an easier route to take having the character start off dark and led down that path. Instead she tried her best and had the people who she loved best interests at heart and still ended up in the same place you know? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Villain origin stories always depress me because I KNOW how it’s all going to ultimately go down, but I can’t seem to keep away from them because they’re just so intriguing :”) That’s a super interesting concept! I think this would be one of the first “villain” stories I’ve read that isn’t exactly a dark fantasy. Definitely on my TBR now~

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I get that. Even though I know how it’s going to end I still somehow hope this time the story will turn out differently and they’ll get a happy ending (so far it hasn’t happened!)
        Yay! I do hope you like it in that case. 🙂 ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I absolutely loved this book. I agree that the setting was really well written. I’ve been to Denmark so I was very fascinated by Havnestad. I also thought the relationship between Evie and Annemette was very well written as well. I did like the romances, though it didn’t turn out how I expected.

    I’m glad you liked this one. Great review 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve been to Denmark too, I went to Copenhagen though so kind of close to where this story was set (geography is not a strong point of mine it has to be said) but yeah I thought everything was written so well. The world building and friendship development was incredible, and yeah nothing turned out how I expected it has to be said.
      Thanks so much! 🙂 ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Loved your review, Beth! I have been very curious about this book for a little while, and I have to admit you made me even more impatient to read it now. I’m thrilled to hear there is a great focus on friendship as well, I LIVE for these kind of books haha. I can’t wait to read that one now 😀 Thank you for sharing! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much Marie. 🙂 Oh it seems like a lot of people are excited for this book, and after reading it I think they’ll all love it (you will too I hope!)
      Yeah I live for those books too, it’s why I loved seeing the development between Evie and Mette throughout the story.
      That’s all right, I really do hope you love this one Marie! 🙂 ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, and I know what you mean because I enjoy reading opposing thoughts to my own when it comes to books, but oh it’s a shame you didn’t enjoy this one as much. Looking back I can see how the pacing could be a downside, it was a slow read at times wasn’t it, but I didn’t notice that while reading you know? 🙂


      1. Yeah I get that. I think for me even though the pacing wasn’t there during the middle the character and relationship development was, so there was always something to keep me invested.
        Oh the ending was brilliant. I mean you kind of knew what was going to happen given it’s a retelling but it still had me shocked at times.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah it really was, and it was nice to find a YA book that placed such importance on the friendship between Evie and Mette too. I feel like normally it would be the romance at the centre stage, but in Sea Witch it was almost the other way around. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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