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.
Synopsis from Amazon
I love retellings of classic stories (especially in fairy tales) because there's often so much more to the story then was originally written. There's a lot of opportunity for an author to reintroduce a character in history, often a character's origin story. From plays like Wicked to stories like the Sea Witch, it's often the villains of classic stories that authors will choose to write about -- and I love it! The Sea Witch tells the origins of the evil sea witch from the Little Mermaid fairy tale. Set in Denmark, Henning brings Evie's story to life.
A Very Awkward Love Story
Henning does a good job of showing Evie as a young girl who simply misses her friend Anna and wants her best friend (the Crown Prince) to find love. However...wow, is Evie a bit of a boring mess. She spends the majority of the book gazing at Annemette and dreaming of Anna being back, while blatantly trying to force her best friend into falling in love with her. This concept seemed incredibly ill-timed in today's society, when trying to manipulate people into relationships just is not acceptable or understandable. There were a lot of different directions that Henning could have taken Evie's story, and this avenue just felt bland to me. It was also very clear that Nik loves Evie, so every interaction where Evie tried to force Nik and Annemette together was just uncomfortable to read.
Although I didn't necessarily love all aspects of the story, I did enjoy the way that Henning told this story. Evie's POV alone would have been the traditional expectation, so I thought it was great that Henning included flashbacks from the other characters to give us further background on each of them and on the story of how Anna died. That was the biggest draw for me and I kept looking forward to those specific moments because I felt that's where the strongest features of the story lay. It would have been wonderful to get another current POV, because I think Evie was a bit too naive to properly carry this story on her own. In lieu of that, these interval flashback chapters were wonderful and exciting to read.
Not the Ending I Expected
The biggest letdown for me was the ending of this book. It felt like so much of this story happened in the last 4 chapters, and they flew by so fast that there was little time to appreciate what we had been waiting for. I felt the worst for Nik, a young man who has always loved his best friend and honestly probably would have found a way to be with her. Instead, Evie lived with her head in a cloud the majority of the book and completely missed these opportunities. The way that Evie also becomes the Sea Witch felt so forced -- where did this giant octopus come from?? It was mentioned briefly in a previous chapter and now we're expected to just accept that it wanted to merge with a human? The whole thing just didn't really make sense to me and I didn't buy into how she actually becomes the sea monster of legend.
Nice Play on History
I loved that Henning kept the story in Denmark, the home of the original Little Mermaid story, and developed her world and the characters accordingly. The numerous explanations of the fishing village, the different food options, the royalty -- everything about the backdrop of this story really captured my attention. I would have loved to get more information about Nik's life and what happens in his future. Henning also did a great job of introducing the Little Mermaid herself (or at least a mermaid who will probably have a similar story line) at the end of the this novel; the potential for another book was definitely left open in that moment.
Overall, this was a fun story even if it didn't live up to all of my expectations. It seems like mermaids are experiencing a bit of a comeback in pop culture and Sea Witch just didn't live up to the standards set by some other recent releases. I did enjoy Henning storytelling and would be interested to read what she writes next! What did you think of the book?
FINAL RATING: 3.5/5
Hi, I'm Alexandra! I love reading (largely YA fiction, but sometimes I'll read "adult" books), playing board games, Nutella, and binge-watching TV shows on Netflix with my husband.
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