On some level it was probably dumb to read two Little Mermaid inspired stories in such close proximity of time. Even so, I didn’t find myself comparing Sea Witch frequently against To Kill a Kingdom. The former is moreso a prequel than a retelling, and though both focus on antiheroes, they are different in tone and execution. Despite the differences–the books can hardly be compared beyond where its inspiration comes from–one of these titles is clearly superior. And it isn’t this one…
Evie has always felt like an outcast in her community, a feeling that only grew after her best friend drowned. When Anna seems to inexplicably reappear in the form of a mermaid-turned-human named Annemette, Evie thinks she might have her chance to fit in, and to make up for losing her friend so many years ago.
Though described as story with major roots in the Little Mermaid story, it only gets to that part, sort of, in later chapters. The lack of connection doesn’t really impact my opinion of the book. I think Sea Witch is exactly the book it was meant to be, and that publicity got a little swept up with promoing it as something it isn’t. The real shame is that Sea Witch isn’t all that interesting with or without the inclusion of the original story.
Evie has a darker mind than the usual YA protagonist, but still ends up being too compassionate towards a select group of people for her ending to feel like a true resolution. The book is confusing in the way it characterizes her. I expected a turning point for Evie, but didn’t really get it.
Her story in the present is presented opposite the story of Anna’s drowning. The change in narration is done unsuccessfully, and always jolted me out of the story. It brings a bit of intrigue near the end of the story, but is too drawn out to make much of an impact.
This is a book that doesn’t really develop its side characters well. Annemette is little more than an object to move along Evie’s motivations…until that part…and Nik and Iger don’t add much to the story other than adding conflict when the story lacks it.
The ending, pre-epilogue, is also pretty darn confusing. Despite my dislike of many aspects of this book, however, I can’t say I completely disliked it. The atmosphere, and historical setting, add a lot to the story. And the concept on its own is pretty interesting.
If Sarah Henning publishes another book, I’ll probably add it to my TBR. I’m just not sure if I’ll get to it anytime soon.