Book Review, Uncategorized

BOOK REVIEW: Sea Witch Rising by Sarah Henning

– Short Review –

Sea Witch Rising” is the follow up to “Sea Witch” – a loose re-imagining of the Hans Christian Andersen tale “The Little Mermaid“.  Both books merge a mixture of land based magic, underwater worlds of mermaids and seemingly impossible loves.  “Sea Witch Rising” adds a whole new element though with the onset of war, U-Boats and a new threat to everyone’s lives.  Can brave mermaid, Runa, find the key to land and sea co-existing peacefully?
If you enjoyed the Witchland Series by Susan Dennard you’ll enjoy this

– Longer Review –

Taking up immediately where “Sea Witch” finished, this book begins with former land witch Evie trapped under the sea in her new guise as the sea witch.  Mermaid Alia has made a deal which gives her legs and allows her four days to make Prince Niklas fall in love with her.  However part of the deal is that she no longer has her voice.  What Alia doesn’t realise is that she’s got no hope of succeeding, Niklas is due to be married and, whether he falls for Alia or not, the wedding has to proceed to secure the future of his kingdom.
From under the waves Alia’s twin, Runa, realises that she risks loosing her sister forever and so strikes her own deal with the sea witch to try and save her.
What follows is a real rollercoaster of a book.  When a deal includes a murder it’s always going to be tricky to achieve and soon Runa has to face the probability that she’s going to lose Alia – plus she’s going to be stranded on the land forever more.  However, she’s an extremely determined character and she joins forces with cousins Sofie and Will and together they try to combine their magical abilities.  Runa’s mission has gone beyond saving her sister.   Niklas’ kingdom is producing weapons which threaten to destroy her underwater family as well as expedite the war effort.  These need to be wrecked but when the palace guards are already on the lookout for Runa and her new friends the opportunities are limited.
Meanwhile, under the waves, the Sea King is deliberately planting mines to destroy his own people – planning to blame others.  He needs Runa back as she’s the only one who can grow the plants he needs to stay strong.  Evie, the sea witch, has to decide whether to try and expose him at the expense of her own dreams.
The action whizzes between the two kingdoms to the point where it’s hard to keep up sometimes and remember which spells/deals are subject to which conditions.  There’s no denying that it’s a real page turner though – I might just have to read it more than once to pick up some of the finer details I missed the first time round!
Forget any Disney-esque images you might have of The Little Mermaid – this series has bite and the legs (and fish tails) to go further.  If you love your fairy tales to have a darker side then this is the book for you.
Sea Witch Rising is published by HarperCollinsChildren’s and is available here.

Sarah Henning


Sarah Henning is a recovering journalist who has worked for the Palm Beach Post, the Kansas City Star, and the Associated Press, among others. When not hunched over her computer, she runs ultramarathons, hangs out with her husband, Justin, and goes on absurdly long walks with her two adorable kids. Sarah lives in Lawrence, Kansas, hometown of Langston Hughes, William S. Burroughs, and a really good basketball team. Sea Witch is her first novel and is followed by Sea Witch Rising. You can visit her online at

Reviewed by Angela Paull

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