Sea Witch by Sarah Henning
Sea Witch by Sarah Henning is the story of how a young girl, desperate to protect those she loves and find a place in her society, becomes the villain in “The Little Mermaid” fairy tale. However, like Disney’s Maleficent, readers will find themselves rooting for this female villain. In that way, the book is a top notch origin story.
I love fairy tale retellings with a twist. If you do too, this is the novel for you. Sea Witch makes readers think differently about the magic of love with twists on love’s first kiss and how love motivates people. The novel also brings back some of the original mermaid mythology that has been lost in recent versions of the creatures. In particular, Henning addresses why merperople might want to fall in love with humans.
If you enjoy sweet teen romances, you’ll like Sea Witch. There are two main courting couples falling in love for the first time. Evie, the main character and sea witch, not only pursues her own interest, but does her best to make sure everyone else is happy as well. There is only kissing. This is not a steamy romance, nor does it have any gory violence or abuse. However, just because the romance is sweet doesn’t mean it’s missing the longing and overwhelming nature of teen love.
Evie is more than a teen girl with a crush, though. She is a witch in a society where magic is feared and its wielders are sentenced to death. She is the daughter of a lowly fisherman and the best friend of the prince, making the rest of her society resent her. Her complex character makes her relatable and enduring. Readers get to watch a normal teenage girl grow and transform. Through friendship, betrayal, and determination, she becomes the sea witch.
The reason I didn’t give Sea Witch five stars is because I became a little bored in the middle. Evie spends too long trying to help her friend without encountering serious, unique challenges. It was predictable at that point. However, my boredom ended instantly when one of the characters was revealed to be lying. After that, the novel became a page turner. If this lie had been revealed earlier, I probably would have given this five stars.
If you don’t like first person, where characters tell their own stories or multiple characters’ perspectives, this is not the book for you. Evie tells her own story, allowing readers to see her thoughts and emotional reactions to the events of the story. Other characters get smaller sections to reveal their experience and point of view occasionally too.
If you like fairy tale retellings, teen romance, and a teenage girl doing everything she can to help those she loves, give Sarah Henning’s novel a chance and see how Evie becomes the sea witch.