ARC Review: Sea Witch Rising by Sarah Henning

Sea Witch Rising (Sea Witch #2)Sea Witch Rising by Sarah Henning
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Alia has made a deal with the Sea Witch to give up her life as a mermaid in exchange for a human soul. Now she has only twelve hours left on land to win the prince she loves, or perish.


But Alia’s sister, Runa, knows that the prince isn’t capable of true love, so she makes her own bargain with the Sea Witch – and prepares to bring Alia back to the ocean, whether she likes it or not.

Below the waves, the Sea Witch has a plan to challenge the order of the sea. It’s going to take power – power she doesn’t yet have.
As Runa and the Sea Witch’s fates intertwine, they find themselves caught in the middle of a deadly conflict between land and water. Will they be brave enough to sacrifice their own hearts’ desires for a chance to save their worlds…?

Warnings: self-harm

While Sea Witch itself wasn’t that impressive in adapting the story of the little mermaid, Sea Witch Rising does an admirable job of combining historical events with a fairy tale. This story is set 50 years after the events of Sea Witch, with yet another mermaid yearning for a set of legs. The start of it, at least, was already a part of Sea Witch, but here it continues the story as per the legend but giving it a twist – one PoV is from Evie, but the other PoV is Runa, the twin sister of the ‘little mermaid’ Alia who makes another deal to save her sister from a doomed mission. Its about sisterhood, family, and trying to stop a war.

The setting of this is 1914, so while Nik’s kingdom is neutral, his grandson Nik (who is now king, and Alia’s love) is aiding the war effort. At first, Alia’s and Runa’s mission seems simple, but when they are poised to fail, the only option becomes murder. Runa also then sees what the humans are trying to wreak, and the danger it spells for her underwater kingdom, as sea mines and U-boats start appearing in the ocean. The sea king himself sees this as a threat to mer culture and his power, and is mounting an offensive against the humans. Racing against time, Runa and Evie both have to contain the ocean’s power to save humanity from the wrath and greed of the sea king.

The book isn’t romance-heavy, despite a love being the catalyst of things, and this decision works to its benefit. It focuses on the sisterly bond between Alia and Runa, and how the other sisters too are ready to go far to save Alia. Runa gets involved with rebel witches; though she never had the love for humanity her sister has, she helps to fulfil her sister’s goals. Evie’s storyline, meanwhile, is about building a spell through the gift of the mermaids-turned-humans to free herself from her confinement, but also about facing the powerful and magic-drunk sea king. The story is also better written than last time, with dialogue’s feeling much more natural now. You don’t necessarily need to have read the previous book, Sea Witch, for this book, as it provides enough clues for those who haven’t, anyway, but it might help with Evie’s characterization. Overall, it is a good sequel and retelling.

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Harper Collins Children’s Books, via Netgalley.

Previous book in the Sea Witch series

Sea Witch (Sea Witch, #1)

View all my reviews

Buy links

The Book Depository | Wordery

Released on August 6, 2019

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