DCW502 Writing and Contemporary Practice

A retelling | A Sea Witch Review

Sea Witch
By Sarah Henning
Rating: ★★★★.5


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 is a young adult fantasy novel that takes place in Havnestad, a Danish fishing town in the 19th – century. Sea Witch is an origin story to the sea’s most iconic villainess, Ursella. It follows the life of Evie, a young witch, who at a young age loses her best friend Anna who drowns in the waters off the coast of Havnestad.

Evie and her friend Nik forge a strong friendship after Anna’s death, that is tested daily by the judgement of the people of Havnestad. But just when things were beginning to settle down for Nik and Evie, a mysterious young woman by the name of Annemette arrives in the kingdom.

This novel is bittersweet and filled with rich seaside traditions that compliment the mood of living in a small Danish town. Sarah Henning has managed to humanize the sea witch by giving her emotions, family and a compelling backstory. This is a story of love, betrayal, sacrifice and how one girl finds herself in a role she never could have imagined.

This novel begins with a prologue, set four years prior to the events of the storyline. After this initial chapter, the novel launches into the first person account from Evie’s perspective. Every few chapters a flashback scene occurs that is told from a close-up, third-person perspective. These flashbacks add in much-needed background information on what happened to Anne and how Evie, Ikar and Nik played crucial roles in that event, as well as Annemette’s past which is revealed closer to the end of the novel.

The characters of this novel have strong bones and good potential but Evie’s overall deminer felt slightly askew from how she is portrayed to be by her own inner monologue. She is a strong character which will appeal to a lot of young readers. She is also emotionally put together despite the whispered remarks of the townspeople, but, the amount of trust she puts in Annemette felt too over the top. Almost imediatly after meeting Annemette, Evie reveals details of her life that she hasn’t told anyone before. It would have felt more realistic if Evie were to question Annemette sudden appearance and not put so much trust into her so quickly.

This novel is a leisurely read. It is set over the course of a few days and progresses at a steady pace. The climax begins a few chapters from the end of the novel, but without the slow movement, Henning would not have been able to pack so much detail into every chapter. This novel needed the heavy detail that was put in to really progress the storyline and character growth

The Epilogue tied this novel in with the Little Mermaid, bringing it in line with the Disney classic that we all love.

I would definatly recommend this novel to anyone who loves origin stories, slow burns or magic. Once you pick this novel up it’s hard to put it back down.


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