Sea Witch by Sarah Henning
“Just a boy, a girl, and the sea.”
I don’t know if it was just the perfect timing for this book, the setting aligning perfectly with the hot muggy weather. Or maybe the bewitching cover put a spell on me that I couldn’t break away no matter how hard I tried. Or possibly this was just my kind of book. Whatever the case may be, I absolutely loved Sea Witch. From the first to last page, I was hooked. Reel me in and fry me up for dinner because I give in. I picked this book up and literally just stared at that beautiful cover for longer than I probably should have just so excited to see what story it held inside, maybe it was that mysterious appeal itself that really grabbed me. But I think it was the magical quality to the story as well as the beauty of the book and the comfort of a retelling of an old story with a new twist, and once all those pieces were put together it created this beautiful story that I still can’t get out of my mind.
I always have to tell myself when reading the stories of how the villains came to be so evil, that things aren’t going to end with your normal happy ever after, but my gosh I did not prepare myself properly with this one. I got so wrapped up in this new unknown version of the little mermaid that I had no clue how this could possibly end badly, and maybe a part of me was in denial. The ending to this book blew me away. I did not see all the plot twists coming and was completely surprised with how much I was unprepared. But all in all, I really thought that this was a wonderful repreentation of the story we all know and love, mixed with some real life history, as well as a lot of magic and romance to keep your heart wrapped up in every little detail.
“Though magic can shape life and death, love is one thing it cannot control.”
Sea Witch follows the story of three main characters. The prince, a peasant girl, and a friend who died long ago. The setting is in a small fishing town in 19th Century Denmark and the rich history of this small town mixed with the magic of the story that all know from Anderson gives this a realistic view of the fairytale. I loved that the names and the places and the story of the witches came from a real setting. I could see it all so vividly in my mind and could really immerse myself in the salty air and seaside daily life.
We read mostly from the point of view of Evie a fisherman’s daughter who at a young age befriended the crown prince. In the beginning we learn that a few years before they both lost another good friend, Anna, in and unfortunate drowning accident, and the weight of that loss still bears down on them both heavily. Evie is still the best of friends with Nik though and together they have come to learn from their past mistakes and to know better than to tempt the sea with their lives. I liked that Evie and Nik are friends no matter the past and their different upbringings. That Nik treasures her friendship just as she cares for him tremendously. There is something about that long standing kind of friendship that really gets to me on a deep level and I loved how close Nik and Evie were and how they relied on each other so much in ways that no one but they could understand. Evie also comes across as free spirited although she has had to hide all her life that she is a witch for fear of being executed for being born with magic that is forbidden. She has learned to live with this secret but that does not keep her from wanting to learn as much about it as she can, which tends to lead her into all sorts of troublesome situations.
Nik was such a wonderful character that I LOVEDDDD! It’s not often that you get a soft spoken princely character, who is musical and the hopeless romantic. He was such a sweet guy and it was refreshing to see this change of roles. He made me want to wrap him up in my arms and keep him safe from all harm. But he wasn’t all soft and cuddly, he had his charming ways, and rugged sailing skills that were also really dashing. I found myself rooting for him quite a bit and wanted the friendship between him and Evie to never die.
Although most of the story is told from the POV of Evie, we do get certain flashbacks from different views. Through these we learn what happened years ago to Anna, and how everyone reacted to the drowning, as well as some other crazy twists that I did not expect in the least. I liked this way of learning how things unfold. The main story continues in a straight timeline, while as the reader we start to see what’s happening before the chatacters are alerted to the dangers. This kept me flipping faster and faster trying to find out what was going to happen. And how our even sea queen would be born. I really thought that this book did the story of the sea witch justice, and although it couldn’t end with happily ever after, I think that this perfectly portrayed what it would take to turn someone into the evil character that she has become. What hearts had to break to create the story that we’ve known all along.
”The sea is like a fickle witch. She is just as likely to bestow a kiss as to steal the breath from your lips.”
If You Liked This Book
So the most obvious choices for recommendations of what to read after sea witch would be something to do with more siren stories, such as To Kill a Kingdom, or Daughter of the Pirate King. But I’m going to throw you a curve ball here and say that you should give Heartless by Marissa Meyer a read if you loved Sea Witch. When I was reading Sea Witch, I kept thinking about how when I read Heartless, I had the same heart breaking realization that there couldn’t be a happily ever after here, because we are reading about the villain, not the hero. But still when reading these anti-hero types of stories, you can’t help but root for love to win out even though you actually know how its supposed to end. After all, if things actually did end up happily ever after, we wouln’t have our villains, would we?
Are you a fan of retellings? What are some of your favorites?! Have you read either of these books? I’m curious to know what you thought of them if you have! Or what some of your favorites are? Let me know in the comments below!