Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Sea Witch by Sarah Henning

Sea Witch by Sarah Henning
Release Date - July 31, 2018
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages -  368 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received from publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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. 
I personally love a good villain. Ask most readers and I anticipate that plenty of them would agree with that statement. A well written villain can make a story feel richer for their inclusion. I am always fascinated by stories that showcase the origin of a villain and finding out what made them turn into the characters we love to hate.

This origin story takes its inspiration from the original Hans Christian Andersen tale rather than the Disney version. One of my favourite parts of retellings are when an author included nods to the original that don't feel forced. Sea Witch excels at this. Sarah Henning weaves in elements from the tale we all know in a way that felt authentic and natural. It didn't feel like there was a list of things to check off as she was writing. My favourite reveal is perhaps the reason behind the Sea Witch's desire to have a voice as payment. It is both heartbreaking and offers an entirely new perspective on this iconic villain.

The magic of the world being created within these pages is wonderfully set up. It's forbidden nature makes it alluring, and having Evie's relationship with it be tied to wanting to help others reveals so much about her character. This seaside town is brought to life through the magic that is part of it. It enriches the setting and causes unforeseen circumstances that drive the plot forward. If the characters are this story's heart, the magic is its driving force. Every other element from setting, plot, and characters is depended on it and it being fully defined.

Evie, our main character, is just a girl who wants to fall in love, practice her magic, and keep her father safe. She mourns the loss of her friend and her inability to save her. She's someone who wants to help her community and those in it flourish. This story really makes you look at her story as one of heartbreak, betrayal, and loss more than anything else and that makes her surprisingly more sympathetic than people may expect.

The pacing of this novel worked for me but I anticipate others may find this has a slower start. This is a story that takes its time to build the characters before it dives into the main plot of the story. It does increase the tension as the story progresses and the end crescendos into a whirlwind, stormy finale that left me captivated and breathless. The ending was exactly what it should have been and exactly what I wanted. The impact it has on the reader is largely because of the pacing during the rest of the story. That tension is felt because the events are so vividly captured and life altering for the characters.

Stories like this are fascinating. The reader knows going in that it is going to be heartbreaking. These villain origin stories are often rip-your-heart-out brutal and are written to ensure sympathy for the eventual circumstances that make our main character break bad. It stands to question why we would pick up something guaranteed to break our heart and the answer is a simple one. These stories, when done extremely well, offer up a mix of nostalgia along with something entirely new and Sea Witch does this incredibly well.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds awesome. I have this thing about mermaids and freaked out when I saw this book while ordering for my library. I haven't gotten around to reading it yet (this darn book committee), but it's moved very high up my reading list. Thanks for the review!!


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