Sea Witch: A Retelling That Could’ve Offered More

3.5/5 Stars

Author: Sarah Henning

Publisher/Imprint: Katherine Tegen Books

Edition: Audiobook, 8 hrs 25 min

Publication Date: July 31, 2018

A Spine that Shines? Partially


Book Synopsis

Wicked meets The Little Mermaid in the captivating origin story of the sea’s most iconic villainess, perfect for fans of Heartless and Dorothy Must Die.

Ever since her best friend Anna died, Evie has been an outcast in her small fishing town. Hiding her talents, mourning her loss, drowning in her guilt.

Then a girl with an uncanny resemblance to Anna appears on the shore, and the two girls catch the eyes of two charming princes. Suddenly Evie feels like she might finally have a chance at her own happily ever after.

But magic isn’t kind, and her new friend harbors secrets of her own. She can’t stay in Havnestad—or on two legs—without Evie’s help. And when Evie reaches deep into the power of her magic to save her friend’s humanity—and her prince’s heart—she discovers, too late, what she’s bargained away.

Book Review

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.

-Sarah Henning, Sea Witch

Initial Thoughts

Hello, bookworms! I hope you are all staying safe and healthy during these times. I just happened to finish listening to Sea Witch on audiobook this past week! This book had been on my TBR for quite a while, so I jumped at the chance to buy the audio when it was on sale for only a few dollars. Unfortunately, Sea Witch did not live up to my expectations, and I really think it could’ve offered more. I really wanted to love it, but there were several aspects that kept me from giving it a higher rating than a 3.5.

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The cover of Sea Witch by Sarah Henning.

Let’s begin with some initial thoughts:

  • Overall, the book had a great concept and I loved the atmospheric Denmark setting. It was certainly interesting to see the sea village way of life.
  • This is very much an origin story; the actual sea witch aspect doesn’t come into play until the very end.
  • I think the books suffers from its execution of the story. The pacing is a bit slow, and not much happens until the final quarter of the book, when events and revelations unfold rather quickly. But I did find the last quarter to be the most entertaining part of the book!

Characters & Romance

Here is a brief overview of my thoughts regarding the characters and romance:

  • The romances in this novel are just OK in my opinion. I didn’t feel a huge amount of chemistry between the two couples. I didn’t feel super attached to either of the princes.
  • Evie is our future sea witch. She is descended from a line of witches, a deadly secret which must be guarded at all costs, for it is illegal to have witch magic in Havnestad. She is the daughter of the royal fisherman, and she also happens to be best friends with the Crown Prince. She still mourns the death of Anna, her other friend, who drowned four years ago. One day, she comes across a visitor who looks just like Anna and calls herself Annemette. Evie can’t resist helping this mysterious girl.
  • Nik is the Crown Prince. He was best friends with Evie and Anna before Anna’s death. It does perhaps seem a bit unrealistic that he would remain friends with Evie, the daughter of a fisherman, into adulthood. But their friendship is sort of justified by Evie’s aunt’s healing of the king. Nik’s mother continuously tries to pair him up with a girl from the nobility. When Annemette arrives in town, he is entranced by her.
  • Annemette is the sweet “little mermaid” character in this story. She tells Evie that she has four days to convince Nik to fall in love with her and give her true love’s kiss. Of course, Evie is eager to help, but she doesn’t realize that Annemette has secrets of her own.
  • Iker is Nik’s cousin, the handsome boy whom Evie has had a crush on since childhood. Unfortunately, I felt that Iker and Evie move to kissing and declarations of feelings rather quickly. There doesn’t appear to be much substance to their relationship. Even Evie knows Iker has a reputation as the “Playboy Prince,” as other people call him.
  • There are aspects of the plot that somehow don’t hold together very well. Something feels a bit off about the character of the main “villain” of the story. This person suddenly feels like a completely different person, perhaps a bit out-of-character. The person does something so terrible I was a bit shocked! (I don’t want to spoil anything, but you’d see what I mean if you read the book.) I almost wanted to punch the character!
  • Near the end of the story, I also felt that certain characters turn on each other rather quickly. And there is a particular revelation that is sprung on the reader in the last few chapters, and suddenly feelings are all over the place!

Final Thoughts

I did like the flashbacks in between chapters. They helped create a dash of intrigue to keep me listening to the story.

The end/epilogue does provide a twist I enjoyed, and it hints at the sequel. It sounds like book two will reflect the little mermaid tale we’re more familiar with.

Sea Witch was not a terrible book. It just wasn’t my favorite retelling. I also wasn’t a huge fan of how the audiobook narrator performed the voices of the two princes. Their voices threw me off a bit, and sometimes Nik sounded a bit girlish to me lol. But I already own the sequel in hardcover, and I may read it since the epilogue was intriguing.

Thanks for reading my honest review! I do understand that every novel is the product of an author’s hard work and effort. I definitely intend to give this author’s writing another chance with The Princess Will Save You. It sounds like a fun retelling of The Princess Bride! Happy reading, and enjoy the rest of your weekend 🙂

*Content Warnings: Fantasy violence; kissing.*

Copyright © 2020 by Spines that Shine (Caitlin Shaffer)

Up Next on My TBR: A Golden Fury

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