While I knew early on I would love Sea Witch, I don’t think it hit me until the end how much. Henning surprises you at every turn and if you thought the first three quarters of the book was full of surprises, just wait until you get to the end.
Anna, Evie, and Nik have been friends for years. They’ve grown up together and lost together. One day, Anna drowns even though Evie tries to save her with her forbidden magic. Anna’s death influences Evie and Nik forever. The ghost of Anna lies between them as they try to move on from her death. Except one day a different girl, one who looks an awful lot like Anna, appears. Even though she denies it, Evie is certain it has to be Anna and finds herself drawn to this strange girl. While her appearance may have convinced Evie of a chance for a happy ever after, this girl has secrets of her own that will demand sacrifice, and above all, love.
This book begins with a phenomenal hook and alternating chapters with flashbacks to the past creates an ominous tension throughout the book. There were so many delightful things I enjoyed such as the exploration of witches and the religion of the society, to the explanation of magic, to the re-telling aspect. This is a Little Mermaid inspired book and while you may think it is a re-telling in one aspect, Henning swipes your feet out from under you at the end.
What I ultimately loved about this book, that kept me up into the morning reading, was the mysterious and sinister tension. Everyone has secrets. Desires and ambitions crash into each other with a deafening roar leaving a path of destruction in its wake. And while the tension between Anna, Evie, Nik, and Nik’s cousin, unfold, we simultaneously uncover what happened four years ago. It makes for an absolutely hair raising mood throughout the pages. It begs the question if anything good can come from hiding secrets and deception?
At the same time, Henning explores this theme about the cost of magic. Do we use magic to solve our problems, to make our lives easier, to enact revenge? What is the true cost of magic and when it is laced with desperation, how can we stop that alluring siren’s call? Throughout the novel, Henning keeps our focus on Evie and her journey to making peace with the past.
This inventive re-telling only gets better as the pages keep turning and if you find this concept intriguing at all, then you need to grab yourself a copy of Sea Witch. This book is a dizzying kaleidoscope of stories and possibilities about the intersection between love and magic. Often we forget how powerful love is, that it can be a force to be reckoned with and one that transcends class and defies deception to the very end.
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