Perhaps fantasies are only meant to come true for a moment. Surely a trick of the gods.
When i first read the synopsis of sea witch I was intrigued. As someone from Denmark who grew up on Hans Christian Anderson fairytales, this seemed like a perfect fit.
The novel tells the story of Evie, a poor fisherman’s daughter, and also a witch. Despite the societal norms, Evie has managed to remain as the crown prince of Havnestad Nik’s best friend. Evie and Nik lost their dear friend Anna years ago in a drowning accident, and when Nik nearly drowns on his birthday, he’s saved by a girl who shares many similarities to their lost friend.
Sea Witch is not a retelling of the little mermaid, and if you go into it expecting such you will be disappointed. This is also not the backstory of Ursula, the villain in the Disney film. Instead it’s the backstory for the villainess in the original Hans Christian Anderson fairytale, it is the tragic story of how someone can lose everything and become something that thet used to fear.
I stand and toss my doll over the heads of those charging forward, eager to murder little wooden models of me. My mother. My aunt. My father’s family.
Sarah Henning has in terms of Danish history and culture done a lot of research, this is evident in the way she portrays Havnestad, a fictional town, it greatly portrays the Danish culture in the 19th century. The 19th century was a time where alleged witches were no longer free to practice, following the reign of Christian IV, who carried out many executions and witch hunts in the name of his personal obsession. We see the turmoil Evie goes through having to hide her witchcraft from not only all the members of Havnestad, but also from her best friend, who she’s afraid would turn her over to the king if he knew.
As hundreds rush the fire, I sink back down to the sand and wipe my hands on my skirts. It’s just sweat, but it almost feels like blood.
This is the kind of novel you should read if you like poetic language, and scenes which lay more focus on characters, and not so much on the action. If you, like me, carry a love for Hans Christian Anderson fairytales with you from childhood, then this novel that will make you feel the same way you did when your parents lulled you to sleep with fairytales.