Author: Sarah Henning
Narrator: Billie Fulford-Brown
Audiobook Length: 8 hours 25 minutes
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.
Sea Witch is the first novel is a duology that gives a new origin story twist on Ursula. I love the Little Mermaid and all sea-themed mythology, so I was very excited to begin this series. The cover of this novel originally captured my attention and curiosity made me give it a try despite the very mixed reviews. After finishing the first one, I feel a little let down as the potential was completely there, but it just never quite came together for me. The series begins in 19th century Denmark with Danish history and words woven in. As I only have a vague familiarity with either, I am not sure how accurate reality and fiction were woven together. As it is difficult to fully comprehend the use of another language aside from vague context (or actually knowing the words), there were some places in the story that just did not flow well. For me, I wished there was either more context added or they were left out entirely to make the writing flow better.
In the fishing village of Havnestad, lives Evie, who is the daughter of a royal fisherman. She is a witch who must hide her magic as it is not widely accepted in society. Her best friend since childhood is the Prince of the Øresund Kingdoms, Nik. The story has two timelines where there is the present story and one with flashbacks of a few years in the past. In the latter portion, the narrative shows the story of Nik, Evie, and Anna, their friend who was a nobleman’s daughter and who died in a drowning incident. In the present timeline, Nik and Evie continue to be friends and there is the addition of another boy, Iker, a prince. Nik is rescued from almost drowning by a girl who looks like Anna but is really Annemette. Evie notices the similarities and ends up befriending Annemette, a mermaid who has four days to get Nik to love her, or she will turn into sea foam.
I loved the friendship between Nik and Evie as they come from two different backgrounds and they continue to find ways to understand each other. They have a history as they have been friends since childhood, so their connection felt natural and not forced. Evie is together with Iker in the story and it is apparent that Nik is not fully on board, so it was interesting seeing this dynamic as Annemette is trying to connect with Nik. Each character has their own reasons for being happy, and unhappy, with certain pairings as their motivations become apparent as the story moves forward. The main story explores the relationship between the five characters: Anna, Evie, Nik, Iker, and Annemette as their secrets and motivations come into play. While there is romance, the story is more an exploration of friendship. The pacing for the novel is slow as the first two-thirds are very detailed descriptions that build-up to the main conflict that reveals itself later. Once this twist is revealed, the story became a lot more entertaining for me and I loved how it came together. Overall, there are many elements in this story that I enjoyed, but it does not stand out as a fantastic novel. I will try the sequel out of curiosity, but, unfortunately, I do not foresee myself motivated to reread this story.