*I received a free ARC of this book, with thanks to the author and Amazon’s Vine Programme. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: This sequel to THE SEA WITCH is an alternative reimagining of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid. It’s a heart-wrenching story about the complications of sisterhood, the uncompromising nature of magic and the cost of redemption.
Alia has made a deal with the Sea Witch to give up her life as a mermaid in exchange for a human soul. Now she has only twelve hours left on land to win the prince she loves, or perish.
But Alia’s sister, Runa, knows that the prince isn’t capable of true love, so she makes her own bargain with the Sea Witch – and prepares to bring Alia back to the ocean, whether she likes it or not.
Below the waves, the Sea Witch has a plan to challenge the order of the sea. It’s going to take power – power she doesn’t yet have.
As Runa and the Sea Witch’s fates intertwine, they find themselves caught in the middle of a deadly conflict between land and water. Will they be brave enough to sacrifice their own hearts’ desires for a chance to save their worlds…?
Sea Witch Rising is the second book in the Sea Witch series by Sarah Henning. I haven’t read the first book, Sea Witch, and was able to pick up the story easily enough, but given the choice I would suggest reading them in order, as there is a lot of backstory and only the necessary highlights are recapped. Plus I suspect it would be easier to keep some of the similarly-named characters distinct if we had seen more of them: here we meet Niklas and Anna, but only hear about Nik, Annamette and Queen Mette.
There are a few storylines running concurrently in this book. The familiar ‘Little Mermaid’ tale is relegated to the sidelines as we focus on Alia’s sister, Runa, and her story of loss, love and her desperate attempts to put right all that has gone wrong. There is also the story of the Sea Witch, Evelyn’s, imprisonment and her manipulations behind the scenes – but to what end? Is she after freedom, power or revenge? Finally, and underpinning all of the personal journeys, is the wider picture: the humans are at war with each other, and will soon (unbeknown to them) be at war with the ocean too. With the balance of all magic, land and sea, as the stake.
The plot mainly follows Runa as she leaves everything she knows and loves, and is forced to make new alliances and her own decisions. She has to rely on her instincts and her quick wits as she must use both land and sea magic to restore the imbalances, and to try to save her lovesick sister’s life and return to the ocean.
The ending leads on to further adventures, but I found it eminently satisfying in its own right (satisfying is not the same as ‘happy’… this is not the Disney fairytale!) Also satisfying was that the majority of the central characters are female. There are male characters that are nominally important (princes, kings and so on) but in fact they do little to drive the plot and mainly function as romantic interests and motivation for the main character’s actions. It is an interesting and effective reversal in a story originally based on a girl pining for a man oblivious to her existence.
There is nothing in the story that would be inappropriate for teens or young adults, and it is likely to appeal to those who enjoy romantic fantasy adventures such as Twilight, or action fantasy adventures like Harry Potter. Fans of the original Hans Christian Anderson fairytale will enjoy this reimagining of the classic tale – with nods to the Disney animation – of the rebellious teen mermaid and her search for love regardless of species.
I should’ve known I would lose her this way.
The boy. That stupid boy. With his stupid dark hair and sparkling eyes and regal blood.
The one she saved in the height of summer, during a ferocious storm when she’d been stalking him yet again. Living in the wake of his ship, hoping for a glimpse of him with his brothers, with their cheekbones and songs and dogs. As if they’d been created from her heart’s desires and plunked onto the earth, just close enough for her to want, just far enough – different enough – to escape her.
Always fascinated with humans, Alia.
– Sarah Henning, Sea Witch Rising
Sea Witch Rising releases on Amazon on 8th August 2019 and you can pre-order a copy right now!