Sea Witch Rising by Sarah Henning
Sea Witch Rising is the sequel to Sarah Henning’s fabulous Sea Witch. This time two mermaids seek to become human, and the sea king is irate when Evie, the sea witch, helps them do so. As humans battle on land and sea, the sea king declares a war of his own. Now Evie and mermaid Runa must work together to restore the balance of magic before both worlds are torn apart.
The tale of The Little Mermaid continues to transform into a complex, heart wrenching story in Sea Witch Rising. Here magic truly is power. And the sea king wants it all to himself, even if that means sacrificing his people in a war with the humans and keeping his daughters locked up. Sea Witch Rising shows how power corrupts. Yet magic is not all bad. Like any aspect of life balance is key. That’s what Evie and the little mermaids, Runa and Alia, fight for throughout the novel.
All three girls are strong-willed, determined, and brave. They know they could dissolve into sea foam, loose what they love most in the world, or be tortured and enslaved for their actions, but they push forward anyway. Each is strong in a different way. Evie has strength through perseverance and knowledge. Alia is strong through guts and conviction. Runa’s strength comes from determination and trust. I love it when authors give their characters complex strengths that run deeper than physical attributes like Henning does.
While I enjoyed Sea Witch Rising, I was disappointed in the balance between Evie’s and Runa’s points of view. Runa dominated the story. Even though she’s a great character, I wanted to read the novel to return to Evie’s story. In the end, Evie’s point of view could have been eliminated and the story would have still worked. I wanted Evie to play a larger role, to need her perspective in order for the story to make sense. Right now, the sea witch needs to be present, but she doesn’t need chapters from her point of view. If you’re reading to return to Evie, you might also be a bit disappointed.
Because there wasn’t enough of Evie, I didn’t buy her ending. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’m just going to say I don’t think her ending was earned because I don’t think the merpeople would trust her.
The love story of this novel, however did not disappoint. Sea Witch Rising has a sweet romance subplot. Sweet meaning a bit of kissing but nothing too graphic or detailed sex-wise. Despite a few deaths and explosions, it’s not gory either. Like Sea Witch, it’s appropriate for middle grade readers who are reading up.
The love between sisters and friends was another important component to this story. It lead to a theme of forgiveness and acceptance. While I appreciate those themes, I think the forgiveness component became unbelievable. At one point someone betrays everyone for personal gain, yet they are still trusted to help after being found out. I didn’t believe that.
Overall, I enjoyed Sea Witch Rising. I might have enjoyed it even more if I hadn’t read Sea Witch first and expected more Evie. The strong characters, magic, and play between land and sea were well developed and executed. Henning’s novel is definitely worth reading.