Thoughts on SEA WITCH

Howdy, howdy!  Due to the random sicknesses of the past couple of months, I forgot to request a book from NetGalley for March.  Luckily, I had a book on my to-be-read list that I’ve been looking for an excuse to read ever since it came out in July of last year.  My love of mermaids automatically drew me towards Sea Witch by Sarah Henning.  The fact that it sounded like a new take on the Little Mermaid (my favorite fairy tale) sealed the deal.  I had to read it.  But that’s enough of why I chose it, let’s get to the review.

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I love the cover.

Sarah Henning’s Sea Witch tells the story Evie, a peasant and a witch, who not only has to hide her power, but also has to put up with the townsfolk accusing her of not knowing her place just because she’s best friends with the prince (Nik) and close to his cousin (Iker), another prince.  When her other best friend, Anna, was taken by the sea, Evie’s whole life fell apart until she thrust herself into studying magic.  Evie and Nik never stopped mourning Anna, but when a mysterious stranger who resembles their dead friend appears, Evie finds herself a purpose: keeping her new friend on land.  Unfortunately, Evie has no idea what kind of magic it will take, nor does she understand the repercussions until it’s too late.

This isn’t some Disney-ified version of the tale with replicas of Ariel and Ursula and Erik.  These characters are mostly well-developed and have a nice balance between light and dark within them.  However, I do admit that Iker and Nik could have used a bit more personality.  Nik was an ideal prince through and through.  I wanted him to be a little selfish and at least make his desires known.  Iker, on the other hand, is a stereotypical playboy prince who turns his back on Evie when he thinks she’s a threat to him and his family.

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For some reason, Iker reminded me of this.  “Love me Evie! … from afar.”

As far as the plot goes, I have some issues with the reasoning behind Annemette’s whole revenge thing.  I just don’t believe someone who was always best friends with these people would blame them like that.  But I’ll say it was because of her lack of a soul.  I’m sure that would corrupt people and make them do weird things.  But other than that, I have no real qualms with the book.  In fact, I’m really happy the story didn’t take the happy ending route where friendship conquers everything.  That would’ve been far too sappy a climax and not a fitting tribute to the original Little Mermaid.

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Because we’re talking about writing next.

The writing is mostly smooth and enjoyable.  Most of the romance between Evie and Iker comes off as corny and more funny than I think it was supposed to, but I got a good chuckle out of it.  I also admit that a couple of the past sections confused me.  At one point, I’m not entirely sure if Iker or Nik is the main character for one of those parts.  It’s easy enough to figure it out after the fact, but during it, I was super confuzzled.

Ultimately, I’m glad I found this book.  A friend actually pointed out that a second one is coming out this year.  I will definitely be picking it up to see what Evie is up to next.

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Overall, I gave Sea Witch four out of five stars.  If you love mermaids or witches or both, this book is a worthy addition to your library.  Bonus points if you’re into fairy tale retellings!

Thoughts On THE WICKED DEEP

Hello, hello!  It’s the last Wednesday of the month already.  Time flies when you’re having fun (or just going about daily life), I suppose.  Anyway, you all know what happens today: a book review!  This week, I’ll be talking about The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw.  It was published back in March of this year by Simon and Schuster.  I read it with the reading group I’m in and decided that I have too many thoughts about it to not write a post.  I usually try to keep my posts as close to spoiler free as possible (sometimes a couple will slip through), but that’s going to be impossible here.  Spoilers this way lie.  You’ve been warned.

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I absolutely love the cover.

The Wicked Deep is the story of a small town called Sparrow and the curse that has plagued it every summer for two centuries.  Why is there a curse?  Because the town sentenced three sisters to death by drowning for acts of witchcraft, of course.  What is the curse?  The three sisters possess the bodies of three girls from the town and lure boys to their death in the harbor.  Poor Penny, a seventeen-year-old who lives on an island with her not-quite-all-there mother, has accepted that it’s the town’s fate to suffer the wrath of the witches every year.  That is until Bo, an unwitting outsider, shows up and she decides it’s her mission to protect him.  Things go all kinds of wrong from there.

I have to admit that I was totally in love with this book as I was reading it.  The setting was wonderful and the writing pulled me along.  Even after I finished it, I was prepared to give it five stars.  Then, I took a breath and started thinking about it.  Really thinking about it.  That was when things got super dark, and not in a good way.

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It really did.

*spoilers ahead*

I ended up feeling sooooo bad for Penny. First, she’s possessed by Hazel (violation much?), but then there’s the whole Bo thing. I mean, there’s sex.  That means Penny is basically ghost roofied and forced into sex without any say. To be fair, Bo doesn’t know about Penny being Hazel at first.  But after everything is over, he keeps dating Penny like everything is normal and he was in love with her all along. At the same time, he keeps pining over Hazel. So, he’s not in love with Penny, which means she’s stuck in a relationship with some guy who’s not really into her.  It all just got very rapey the more I thought about it.  By itself that’s fine (not every story has to be a happy one), but there will be people who think this is a great love story and that’s what really makes me sad.

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Me after really thinking about things.

Aside from that, I also expected more from Penny’s mom.  She supposedly has some kind of psychic powers and knows when people are on her island and all that, but she doesn’t kick Hazel’s ghostly ass?  She doesn’t really do much at all.  It’s apparent during her conversation with Hazel that she knows things, but she doesn’t act.  It was just a little disappointing.

Ultimately, I had a love/hate relationship with The Wicked Deep.  I’ll still keep a look out for other books by Shea Ernshaw, though.  It was good enough that I was swept along, which makes it worth looking into other stories by her.

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Overall, my issues with it dropped my rating down to a 3 out of 5.  I definitely suggest picking it up if you’re into stuff like that, but really think about the story.  Maybe I’m making too much out of something small.  Maybe you’ll find it creepy too.  Who knows?

Thoughts on THE CURIOUS AFFAIR OF THE WITCH AT WAYSIDE CROSS

Howdy, howdy!  It’s the last Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time for another book review!  For November, I read The Curious Affair of the Witch at Wayside Cross by Lisa Tuttle.  It was published on November 28th.   As with my last two reviews, I must thank NetGalley and the publisher, Hydra, for giving me access to an ARC (advanced reader copy) in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.  So, let’s get on with said review!

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The cover is interesting.

The Curious Affair of the Witch at Wayside Cross is the second in Tuttle’s series about detectives Jasper Jesperson and Aphrodite (Di) Lane.  I admit that when I realized this was book two, I bought and read the first.  And I had a lot of the same complaints about both books.  The premise is a fun one, basically being a supernatural version of Sherlock Holmes.  The Witch at Wayside Cross sends our detectives out of London to Aylmerton in search of the story behind Charles Manning, who dropped dead in their front hall after showing up at two in the morning, delirious and babbling about being hunted by witches.  Sounds exciting, right?  Not so much.

I wanted to like the book with its promise of intrigue and witches, but it fell flat with me.  There were at least five suspicious deaths throughout the book and one missing baby.  It was a lot to keep track of, but we weren’t allowed to forget a single detail.  Not because every aspect of each crime was astounding or even memorable, but because everything was explained to us at least three times.  That’s still better than the first book, which explained every detail of the climax five different times.  It was as if Tuttle didn’t trust the reader to understand what was going on the first time around.  I found it a bit off putting in both books.

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Me every time I read a recap of something I just read in this book.

Aside from that, I found myself more interested in the supporting characters than the detectives themselves.  They seemed more well-rounded than both Jesperson and Lane.  This can be risky.  It’s what made me want to keep reading this book, but since none of them seem like they’re going to become recurring characters, it doesn’t give me any incentive to pick up the next book should there be one.

I also found Miss Lane to be kind of dense, which was where a lot of the multiple explanations stemmed from.  For a detective, she has a really hard time putting two and two together.  Considering we’re in her perspective throughout the book, it gets a little tiresome.  It’s like she’s being willfully stupid at times just so Jesperson will have a reason to speak.  For the time period, that kind of behavior is understandable, but she should at least make the obvious connections in her head.  At one point, she basically gives up trying to think and just follows her partner around because all will be explained.  For a story that seems to be trying to say women can do whatever men can do, Miss Lane fails miserably at matching Jesperson’s wit and intelligence.

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She really is sometimes.

Beyond all of that, I found the writing to be kind of rambling and there was a lot of focus on unimportant things.  I didn’t particularly care what they were eating as they were discussing the case.  I felt the kidnapped baby arc was thrown in to add an actual paranormal element, but wasn’t exactly important to the main story.  A lot of the story made me feel this way.  I understood why it was there, but it felt like it was there in order to turn a good novella into a mediocre novel.  That’s not the kind of writing I can enjoy.

Ultimately, I kind of wish I hadn’t wasted my time on The Curious Affair of the Witch at Wayside Cross.  I feel bad for not liking it better, but it wasn’t my cup of tea.  And I won’t be going out of my way to get a sequel should one come out.

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Unfortunately, I’d only rate this one a 1 out of 5 stars.  It sounds really cool, but it was poorly executed.  If you want a good story about witches and mystery, this is not the book you’re looking for.