Time taken to read: 7 days
Rating: 3 stars
I received a free e-arc of this book from Netgalley, in return for an honest review. Image taken from Netgalley, as the e-arc did not come with a title image.
The Sea Witch is an origins story for the antagonist in the famous The Little Mermaid story (not Disney’s Ursula but the fairy tale Sea Witch). It builds on the story of three close friends, Evie (a lowly, despised fisherman’s daughter with a hidden secret), Nik (the beloved crown Prince) and Anna (lost tragically to the sea whilst young). Slowly recovering from the loss of her best friend, Evie’s life seems to be somewhat re-grouping when the mysterious Annemette arrives in their town. A stranger that is there spitting image for her lost friend Anna, desperate to make Nik fall for her or face fatal consequences. Evie is compelled to try and help them all find Happily Ever After but is that possible with so many secrets in play.
For me personally, Sea Witch has been a very difficult book to review and rate – in part because some elements were so well written and others were unnecessarily clichéd (even given the source material it was built from). But mostly because I believe there is an element of my expectations and reality not truly aligning. If you’ve seen the book’s beautiful cover, you may, like I, have expected a larger portion of this book to take place in the sea with a stronger mermaid focus. This is not the case, please be aware that the majority of this story does take place on land prior to discovering which of our character’s ultimately becomes the iconic Sea Witch.
The opening for this book set an uncertain tone for me, which most likely shaded some of my later opinions unjustly. A very young child attempts to sacrifice their self for a friend in a manner that I could not find believable for a character so young; and the initial switch between a 3rd person flashback and 1st person present story was not the smoothest transition. Some of the early pacing (especially with the storm) were a little jarring.
However, moving past those initial elements I really started to get into the story. I found the writer had a way with descriptions and a genuine depth to the characters. The story seemed to be self-aware of some of the tropes it had to handle and the further through the story I got, the more invested I felt and the more I wanted to read. For the most part I enjoyed the main characters of the novel, (although I personally was not a fan of Iker. I have ‘Eh. Iker’ written several times in my notes – even when he was meant to be at his most charming).
The Sea Witch definitely ends strongly, with what I felt was a satisfying wrap up of the plot. There were definitely scenes towards the end of this novel that I would have easily given the full 5 stars to if they were independent short stories, because I was truly hooked. I just felt the initial foundations for some of the story were not as strong as I would have liked and therefore pulled down my rating – Evie’s romantic story line never pulled me in as much as I wanted to be, and I don’t think it was intentional for me to feel suspicious of her love interest as the points that I did, especially as it built a lot of the later action. At least with Annemette and Nik it felt like any uncertainties in their will they/ won’t they were meant to be there.
Overall, I think fans of The Little Mermaid will really enjoy this story. Especially if you personally connect with the romantic story lines, which were a large basis for the plot. Ultimately for me however, I guess I just wanted more of the actual Sea Witch character.
The Sea Witch is out now in the UK.
TLDR: Sea Witch is an origin story bound to delight fans of The Little Mermaid. Slow start, strong end with great characters but a shaky central romance.