SEA WITCH RISING by Sarah Henning is a thrilling sequel to SEA WITCH that is part-retelling and part-WWI spy adventure. I thankfully was gifted a finished copy from HarperCollins and Katherine Tegen Books who kindly sent it to me for an honest review.
Spoilers will start after the short summary during the extended review:
Runa will not let her twin sister die. Alia traded her voice to the Sea Witch for a shot at happiness with a prince who doesn’t love her. And his rejection will literally kill her—unless Runa intervenes.
Under the sea, Evie craves her own freedom—but liberation from her role as Sea Witch will require an exchange she may not be willing to make. With their hearts’ desires at odds, what will Runa and Evie be willing to sacrifice to save their worlds?
Told from alternating perspectives, this epic fairy tale retelling is a romantic and heart-wrenching story about the complications of sisterhood, the uncompromising nature of magic, and the cost of redemption.
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Why I was interested: SEA WITCH was a lovely first book focusing on challenging society’s expectations through the lens of the “villain” of The Little Mermaid. When I was told that this book takes place 50 years later during WWI, I was truly thrilled as WWI is my favorite historical era to read about. Combining WWI history with fantasy magic and a villain retelling made this read at the top of my TBR.
Judge a book by it’s cover: While balancing the look of the first book, I love how this cover features Runa and Alia who could be seen as villains to stand up against the German government and their father to do what’s right.
What to expect: While book one was more of a backstory and romance, this book is a total spy thriller. It’s exciting, thoughtful, and magical. It makes me want more WWI historical fantasy spy books.
Why you should pick this book up: This a great sequel of SEA WITCH. It has everything you’d — or I, LOL — want in a book: history, magic, mythology, retelling, excitement, spies, and more
ATTENTION: IF YOU HAVE YET TO READ SEA WITCH RISING do not continue reading. The following contains spoilers for the book.
SEA WITCH was a fantastic fantasy retelling of Evie as the sea witch character in The Little Mermaid. It questions the idea of society and uplifts the idea of loyalty to those who matter most. SEA WITCH RISING is much more of a historical fantasy that takes place during WWI. Evie’s journey continues in book 2 with the idea of standing up for what is right against society while Runa and Alia must learn to stand up against their father to save human-, witch-, and mer-kind.
I love how exciting this book was. Runa goes after Alia because she made a deal with Evie to become human, but we soon realize it wasn’t just because she liked the prince but because she knew about the German U-boats. Alia was willing to sacrifice herself for her family and the sea and it pushed Runa to join the rebels, connect them back to their witch magic, and help them destroy the U-boats.
But problems are also growing under the sea as Evie must battle the Sea King, Runa and Alia’s father, and his oncoming war. Runa’s decision to continue what Alia started respects her sacrifice while continuing her loyalty to her sister. Runa must also break the loyalty to her father in order to hold up her promise to her sister and to help those above and below the sea.
This act of sisterhood truly is the heart of the story. Evie’s relationship with Runa and Alia’s grandmother shows this as well as the twins’ sisters’ help. The men in their lives — the Sea King, Sophie’s father, the prince — is willing to sacrifice those around them for what they see is right but truly is a simple way out of their problems. The persistence of these women prove that while individual sacrifice must be made, it does not mean that you must sacrifice others to succeed in your goals. The execution of the idea is well-shown and is fully understood when Evie is offered the crown after she takes the Sea King’s magic away by releasing his magical hold on Anna, Alia, and the soldiers.
I thoroughly enjoyed SEA WITCH RISING. I adored its combination of magic, excitement, and history, and I look forward to reading THE PRINCESS WILL SAVE YOU when it’s released in July.
What did you think of Sarah Henning’s SEA WITCH RISING? I’d love to hear your comments below!
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