Book review – Sea Witch Rising by Sarah Henning

Caidyn's review (1)

Sea Witch Rising (Sea Witch, #2)

4/5

CW: loss, grief, loss of a loved one, and war

  1. Sea Witch – 4/5

As this is a sequel and directly picks up where the first book ends, there will be spoilers for the first book in this review! I don’t really want to dance around what happened and try not to give big spoilers away for this. Got it? Good. Sorry y’all who haven’t read this fantastic series, but maybe it’ll give you a jump on reading it?

So, as I said, this picks up immediately after the last book. Hell, the prologue in this is the very last chapter of the first book. Here’s a quick summary of the ending for those who need it. Evie saves Nik’s life with magic at the sacrifice of her own. She’s dying in the sea, but, with some magical help, she takes the life of an octopus, becoming the Sea Witch as we know her. Decades have passed. The mermaids are frightened of her. But, one mermaid comes looking to be turned into a human so she can win the love of a boy, Nik’s grandson (also named Nik; these damn royals, right?). And, Evie does that for her, stealing her voice and giving her days to win his love without it.

That’s where the story ends.

The mermaid’s name is Alia and she’s one of the king’s daughters. Except, she has a twin, Runa, who knows that she can’t do this and doesn’t want her sister to die. She makes her own deal with Evie to go up to the top and to help her sister in any way necessary.

The heart of this story, like the last, is sisterly love and the bond between siblings. It was beautiful to read that. I’m really loving all of these books that are coming out with that as its big focus and a huge theme that it deals with. The relationship Runa and Alia have in the book was so believable. They love each other to pieces and would do anything for the other, but they also hate each other at times.

Also, this book is about Evie. Runa is one perspective — and the one that dominates the book — but Evie also gets a say. Sarah said that this book (because I was lucky enough to see her speak on the night this released) is about those who are left behind. Runa was left behind by Alia. Evie was left behind by everyone because everyone she loves has now died. And it’s about the two of them, in their own way, coming into themselves.

It’s also about finding people. In the human world, Runa finds people that are like her. And they band together to try to make things right after the plan goes horribly wrong. It doesn’t help that it’s the dawn of World War One and everything’s about to get fucked anyways.

And WWI is a big part of this story. It’s something motivating the merpeople and, definitely, Runa’s father. It took me a while to realize that her father was the same one. That means that Runa has the same father that Anna did after her adoption by the merpeople. The timeline really messed with me in this story. It took me a while to actually get down the relationships and that people were basically the same from the first book. Kind of confused me for a while until I got it down.

Another thing that didn’t work for me is the characterization of Runa’s father. It just didn’t sit right with me for some reason. It felt unbelievable. And I never quite got the reason why he had become like this. It never felt adequately explained to me. As the book went on, it became more central to the plot. And I still never got it. It confuses me still. I’m pretty sure I’d catch it whenever I reread it, but that was one major part of the story that didn’t work for me.

I’m also glad to report that, unlike the first book, romance isn’t very central to the story. It’s there, of course, but this book has a lot more action than the first one. I liked that it had more action. The story went faster and my eyes didn’t glaze over like they do with romance.

The ending was a really good one. During Sarah’s talk, she kept saying that there’s no other book in the works, but that this one is being called a Sea Witch novel so that means there’s always a chance that more will come out. Personally, that makes me excited. The ending closed off the plot for this book, but left it open enough for more to come in the future. It’d be interesting to see something set in more contemporary times.

Overall, another great book by Sarah Henning! I highly recommend you check her out because she has amazing books and equally amazing projects that are in the works.


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Book review – As I Descended by Robin Talley

Caidyn's review (1)

As I Descended

4/5

CW: ableism, drug use, drugging someone, outing, and death


Macbeth is my favorite of Shakespeare’s tragedies. While it’s not my absolute favorite play, I love how he wove the story and made it so entrancing even today. I’ve had this book on my radar for a while, but I never took the leap to try it until I saw it get recommended by Mackenzi Lee on her Instagram story.

It was great! Not perfect, but I thought it was very creative. Instead of medieval Scotland, we have a highly prestigious high school where everyone’s competing for the best grades and, therefore, the best college. I remember those people at my own non-prestigious high school — literally, it was one high school for two towns — so it gave me major flashbacks to my own senior year. I wasn’t in that group of overachievers, but I had classes with them.

Let me break down the characters and link them to the characters in the play, though. (And I thought what Talley did with the character names was super clever!)

  • Maria = Macbeth. She is a bi Mexican teen who is nearly at the top of her class.
  • Lily = Lady Macbeth. She is a disabled lesbian teen (not out). She also has an addiction to pain pills.
  • Delilah = Duncan. She’s the queen bee of the school. Top of the class. Famous last name. Gets everything she wants because of who she is. Also drinks and does drugs occasionally. She and Maria are competitors and on the same sports team.
  • Brandon = Banquo. He’s gay and Maria’s best friend.
  • Mateo = Malcolm. He’s gay and not out to anyone outside of school. Also created a GSA for the school.

Those are, basically, the main characters of the story. Same with the play if you’ve read it. (And, if you haven’t, I highly recommend it. If Shakespeare isn’t your jam, try an audiobook. They tend to have a full cast and you really get to experience the play.)

I absolutely loved the intersectionality in this book. You have queer characters of color. You have queerness mixed with disability. And it was so much fun.

The whole story starts off with Maria, Lily, and Brandon deciding to break out an ouija board to fuck around after drinking some. Except, they reach spirits. Spirits who have information, in Spanish, for Maria that tells her the future and what she has to do to get what she wants. Aka, Delilah’s place.

From there, the story basically follows the play. As I said, I thought it was super clever and fun to read. No, it wasn’t perfect. But it was super enjoyable. I read over half of it while waiting on my flight to Portland — seven hour fucking layover after getting up at 3am to catch my first flight — and it was just a fantastic read. It definitely kept my attention.

The diverse cast and plot were the best parts of it for me. And, I know that I’ll be checking out more of Talley’s books from here on out because this first book I read by her impressed the hell out of me.


Talk to me!
Have you read this?
What did you think?
Do you have a favorite Shakespeare retelling?