Sea Witch

368p. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. Jul. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062438775.
Gr 7 Up—This prequel to "The Little Mermaid" opens with a prologue in which two girls and a boy are playing and tragedy strikes. Years later, the story continues with Evie, who is secretly a witch, and her best friend Crown Prince Nik, who is celebrating his 16th birthday with an extravagant party aboard a ship. A storm brews, and Nik is thrown overboard and almost dies; but he is saved by someone with a beautiful singing voice. Flashbacks show readers that the duo was once a trio. Anna, the third friend, had tragically drowned four years earlier, and her body was never recovered. Evie meets a mysterious girl who showed up on shore, who looks and sounds like Anna but calls herself Annemette. This young woman is a mermaid, was responsible for saving Nik from drowning, and insists that she is not Anna. She is able to take on human form for four days and can live as a human forever if she secures true love's kiss in this time. Evie vows to help and keep her secret, and Annemette will keep Evie's magic powers a secret, as well. It will become apparent to readers where the characters' hearts' desires are pointing them, especially as big twists play out. Some Norse terminology and mythology are interwoven and help create a vivid setting. The ending feels a bit rushed and the closing action happens quickly, but romance and fantasy fans won't mind.
VERDICT This enjoyable read will entertain and be a great fit for collections where fairy-tale retellings are popular.

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