Sea Witch by Sarah Henning was a darkly delicious villain origin story

Title: Sea Witch
Series: Sea Witch #1
Author: Sarah Henning
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling
Publication: July 31st 2018, Katherine Tegen Books
Pages:  368, Hardcover
Source: Library
Rating: 4.5/5 cupcakes

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 was a dark, enchanting re-imagining of the Little Mermaid's villain, the sea witch. A villain origin story that is hopeless and passionate and harrowing, the Sea Witch sunk its claws into me and never relinquished me. I was utterly captivated by the book. Lyrical and romantic, Sea Witch blew me out of the water.

The thing that captivated me from the start was the writing and Sarah's ability to weave an enchanting tale. Alternating between flashbacks of when Evie, Anna and Nik were younger and four years later, after Anna's death, I was able to get emotionally involved from the beginning. The flashbacks merged seamlessly with the present day, creating a spellbinding story that made me gain deeper insight into their story and gain deeper and greater appreciation of the characters. I also loved the alternate view points that were featured in the book. There were things that were revealed to the reader but disclosed from that characters, which had me yelling at the book, wishing I could warn them. I absolutely loved the way the book included flashbacks and third person storytelling as it gave me a deeper understanding of the world and the characters. It provided for an immersive reading experience.

Sarah's writing was gorgeous. It was simple, magical, and captivating. It's the kind of book that sucks you in. I was so entranced by this book, I didn't even notice time passing. I said "just one more chapter..." and then I ended up reading almost 100 pages. I fell in LOVE with this book.

I adored the characters too. Evie was an outcast in the village. A fisherman's daughter who was best friends with the prince, she was subjected to cruel comments and misunderstanding. Nik, a brave prince with a heart of gold. I absolutely loved Evie. She was caring, kind, and brave. It broke my heart to see how people mistreated her, just because she was different. I adored Nik too. He was charming and kind and was so wonderful. I'd read a whole book about him. I could say more in the way of two other prominent characters, but that would probably be slightly spoilery.

I really liked the plot as well. It's not fast-paced. It's a slow, quietly unfurling story. There's always a tinge of mystery and a subtle atmosphere of magic and danger. There are plot twists and moments where I read with baited breath. There were moments that stole the breath out of my mouth and twisted my heart in anger and sadness. It's wonderfully paced and that fits the gorgeous, magical atmosphere of a sleepy coastal town.

I also can't say too much about the romance, as it changed quite dramatically throughout the book. The romance towards the end I would've loved to see developed and explored more throughout Sea Witch, but I understand why it wasn't so. It made it all the more heartbreaking. How could it end like that?!

The only reason I didn't give this a full five cupcakes is because I think the characters could've been slightly more fleshed out, especially in the way of Nik. I adored him, but he didn't feel as three-dimensional as I would've liked. As I mentioned above, I would've liked the romance to be slightly more developed, but I understand why it was written the way it was. That being said, this book is absolutely stunning. I believe this is a debut novel, and if so, I am highly impressed and can't wait to read more of Sarah Henning's books.

Sea Witch is a dark, delicious and heartrending retelling that focuses on friendship, magic and betrayal. The lyrical writing, beautifully brave protagonist and enchanting tale made this a book that I was completely captivated by. If you want a book to get lost in, read Sea Witch. It'll sweep you away.

I give it: 4.5/5