Sarah Henning’s debut novel, Sea Witch, is different from most fairy tale inspired young adult novels. It’s a unique telling of an origin story of the Sea Witch from Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tale The Little Mermaid.
Within the first quarter of the book, I thought that I had already figured out the ending. I was sorely mistaken. Several times, the reader is led to believe that the plot is heading in a certain direction, but then it takes a sharp turn at the last moment. The dialogue is dark and beautifully woven. It is a story of intense friendships, a loss of innocence, and the disastrous effects that can result from the wrong mixture of meddling and good intentions. The narrative also incorporates a rich account of 19th century Dutch culture.
While I would give this book a generally positive review, a few of the narrative descriptions are quite long and tedious. The novel also heavily focuses on four main characters, but most of the other characters are flat. Some of the events of the book appear to be put into place solely to drive the plot, which can make some of the descriptions a bit bumpy at points.
That being said, I would still give this book an overall positive review. It held my attention for the duration, and truly surprised me more than once.