Sea Witchby Sarah Henning Published 31 Jul 2018
|Publisher||Katherine Tegen Books|
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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.
"Sea Witch" Reviews
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Sea Witch is one of those books that grew on me more and more with every page that I read.
I started it with excitement because I love The Little Mermaid and Ursula as a villain but also some hesitation because villain origin stories can be repetitive and unoriginal. But what I got out of Sea Witch was incredibly special!
"I could tell her that it's like the tang of summer wine and the sound of arrival bells as a new ship docks. Like the scent of salt and limes and the tinkle of a boy's eyes just before a kiss in the moonlight."
This is also one of those books that I have a super hard time doing a review for because it's one that just took my heart by storm. I have a huge emotional connection to it that is hard to put into words.
Not just that, it did exactly what I wanted from a villain origin story. It had some twists and turns and unexpected revelations and in general felt very original. In my personal opinion it didn't go the well-known paths that millions of authors have gone before.
But obviously with retellings or villain origin stories it always depends a little bit on the picture you have of the fairytale or villain. These can be hit or miss solely on the fact that this author's portrayal of a character simply doesn't fit what you imagine that character to be. So it's hard for me to wholeheartedly recommend this, I just know that I truly loved this and I keep thinking about this story and its characters, days after finishing.
It's also hard to talk about my expectations and how well they were fulfilled without going into spoiler territory or ruining your reading experience. As I said, I was impressed by this because I thought it went a different route than one might expect from an origin story like this. I think it is an amazing ability to write a story where everybody already knows the ending but constantly have you question how we will get there and what will tip this story over. I had huge hopes for how this would turn out but I was still questioning everything until the very end.
"I return to my lair, the new silence ringing in my ears. Somehow, it's more painful than before. As if hearing a new voice, regaining the shortest moment of humanity, has torn open the wound that is my loneliness."
But as I said, not only did it completely meet my expectations, it was first and foremost a book that I was emotionally invested in from the very beginning. And it broke my heart. I could already tell after the first third that this would shatter my heart into pieces, long before I knew how. And there's not a lot of books that can do that so effortlessly.
I know this is not my most conclusive review but it's probably one of the most sincere ones I've ever written. Because while I like all the aspect of this book and I could tell you how great the characters are or how much I liked the setting, I simply fell in love with this book. And there's not always a way to explain why.
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I received an ARC of this through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review!
“Magic was barter—the right words, actions, potions for the right result.”
Well, that was... unexpected.
Sea Witch is marketed as a villain origin story, namely the sea witch from The Little Mermaid. Being the weird kid in the murder corner, I eagerly requested on Edelweiss, thinking it'd be a dark and transgressive retelling along the lines of Marissa Meyer's Heartless or Fairest. What I got instead was a quiet, rather literary novel about friendship and social class.
The story does largely unfold the same way as the original tale: a mermaid saves a prince, then goes on land to try to win his heart in four days. If she fails, she'll be turned to sea form. A human witch called Evelyn narrates the novel, with third-person chapters recounting the past. The mermaid Annamette bears a striking resemblance to Evelyn's best friend who drowned four years ago and she naturally wants to persevere Annamette's life.
Honestly, Sea Witch didn't start getting interesting until the 60% mark, when a twist kicks things into high gear. The writing doesn't help either. It's difficult to explain, but it tries too hard in places, plugging descriptives when they're unnecessary and weigh down a sentence.
Most of the novel has a small-town atmosphere, focusing on Evelyn's struggle with her low birth and her friendship with the prince Nik. There are also lots of insights into Danish history and culture, the country The Little Mermaid originated from.
Sea Witch will appeal to a certain kind of reader, but it failed to hook me in. (Fish pun intended)
ARC provided by Edelweiss
This story just shoved me off the edge of Plot Twist cliff and I'm still falling tbh. It was thoroughly not what I expected and the beginning had me slowly drowning...but that ending. THAT ENDING. The plot twists! The vengeance! The magic! The stabbing! It was so freaking good!
→ I do admit I chaffed at the beginning.
Like I went in expecting a sea witch origin story, but we get Evie, who is the actual sweetest Hufflepuff witch...she's a mistrusted outcast, but also BFF with the crown prince. (They're just friiiiends tho...yes. I have heard that one before.) And then the story unravelled this slow romance-centric plot, where mostly they just talked and participated in a festival and had a love-square that was very polite.
....then things went down.
→ Obviously I won't spoil the ending but OMG and YES.
Seriously the last 100 pages were epic and I wish the beginning had captivated me as much, but at the same time?? I understand it had to build up to it? I just was a little bored lmao I am so sorry.
→ Love square? Do I see thee?
Basically we have four main characters: Evie (fisherman's daughter and nobody and secret witch) and Nik (crown prince and BFF of Evie) and Iver (Nik's cousin, also a prince, somehow a whaler?? but apparently a player), and lastly Annamette who is a mermaid turned human and must win Nik's love or pERISH...she also resembles their dead friend Anna who drowned 4 years ago, but Annamette is a mermaid.
Like dude, I ship them all with each other though. Except the princes, they are cousins. But Evie/Anna had an epic "hey if the prince things doesn't work I'LL DO ANYTHING TO SAVE YOU" thing going on that was amazing. And Nik/Evie are like "yeah we're just friends" (me @ laughing hysterically in the background) while Iver/Evie are kissing in the garden and she's swooning for him. Usually love square irritate me, but I really enjoyed this one. It had TWISTS too, which was epic. Although Nik was about as dynamic as pebble, but he was a sweetie?? And Iver [spoilers removed].
→ So basically plot twists GALORE and a fascinating cast! Even though the beginning really didn't do anything for me. I'm just so pleased by the direction it turned mwhahaha.
I was not expecting to be this let down.
this was just....not good.
reasons why this book did not work for me:
-there was no plot up until the last 50ish pages
-the characters were flat with zero development
-the two male characters were completely interchangeable
-the romances were the worst cases of insta love I've ever seen
-when the plot finally picked up all the characters became different people out of nowhere
overall this book was just flat out boring
I decided to make my own painted edges. They are not great, but I love them! I used purple to go with the purple in her eyes!
Book & Poster Below
A million stars for the cover and the poster I got in one of my book boxes and got laminated!
I liked the story! I didn't love it to death as I'm not a big fan of The Little Mermaid. But who cares, it was good enough for now and I'm glad plenty love it 😊