Rise of the Sea Witch
Author: Stacey Rourke
Genres: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: June 19, 2017
Details of the sea witch’s banishment have been exaggerated. The body count that preempted it was not. Once an illustrious princess, her hands and tentacles were stained with the blood of thousands. No one could comprehend how the hooks of madness dragged her down from her life of privilege.
Born Princess Vanessa of Atlantica, the ambitious young royal was one of two children born to the great King Poseidon. She and her brother, Triton, were groomed from birth to rule. Yet only one would ascend that coveted throne. While carefree Triton flits through his training with a cavalier demeanor and beguiling charm, Vanessa’s hunger for her father’s acceptance drives her to push herself to the limits of magic, and combat to become a leader worthy of her people.
When war against the humans ravages their once regal kingdom, political sides are chosen. Factions from the seven seas challenge the existing leadership, pitting Vanessa against her brother in a vicious battle for the crown. Traitors are exposed, dark family secrets revealed, and a once strong sibling bond is strained to its breaking point.
Only when the ink black waters from the ultimate betrayal rescind, will the truth be known of how the villainous sea witch rose with one name on her vengeful lips–Triton.
Rise of the Sea Witch is a highly original and addictive YA fantasy novel that fans of fairy tales are going to devour. I'm a huge fan of the fairy tale retelling trend that's been happening lately, and this book definitely falls into that category. I've read a few retellings of The Little Mermaid, but the author takes this story to a whole new level to tell the tale of the sea witch. I love that we get to know Vanessa when she's younger and learn what happens in her life to turn her into the crazy villain we're all familiar with. It's a wholly unique twist on a favorite tale of mine, and I think it was incredibly well written. Vanessa is the MC of the book, and she is definitely an interesting one. Whenever we think of her character, an immediate image of a horrible villain comes to mind. With this story, we get to know the girl before she went bad and see what made her that way. One thing I want to note is the writing style. This is a huge point of interest for me when reading, and I almost always prefer the first person because of the personal connection between reader and MC. I'm so happy that the author chose to write the novel in the first person with Vanessa as the narrator. It wouldn't have had the same effect if done in another way - but with this POV, it's a perfect fit. I felt myself identifying and empathizing with Vanessa right from the beginning. Yes, she ends up being a cruel villain, but she wasn't always that way - and we get to know her before she turns bad. I felt sorry for her when it came to her father and his dismissive attitude towards her and I can understand her yearning for his love and attention - to the point of using her magic in ways she shouldn't. I enjoyed getting to know Vanessa throughout the book and seeing her change and grow - even if it wasn't for the best.
The plot had elements that were central to most fairy tales - a princess in some kind of predicament, a love interest, and a journey to finding a way out of the trouble - however that may be. Even though the plot wasn't always fully unique, the story was fresh and definitely sets itself apart from any other books out there. Like I mentioned, I've read several retellings of The Little Mermaid, but none that centered around the backstory of the sea witch. It's a brilliant idea and the author does a fantastic job making it come to life. I easily slipped inside Vanessa's world and I didn't come back out until the very last word. I highly recommend this book to fans of YA, fantasy, paranormal, science fiction, and (of course) fairy tales and retellings.
RONE Award Winner for Best YA Paranormal Work of 2012 for Embrace, a Gryphon Series Novel
Young Adult and Teen Reader voted Author of the Year 2012
Turning Pages Magazine Winner for Best YA book of 2013 & Best Teen Book of 2013
Readers’ Favorite Silver Medal Winner for Crane 2015
Stacey Rourke is the author of the award winning YA Gryphon Series, the chillingly suspenseful Legends Saga, and the romantic comedy Reel Romance Series. She lives in Michigan with her husband, two beautiful daughters, and two giant dogs. She loves to travel, has an unhealthy shoe addiction, and considers herself blessed to make a career out of talking to the imaginary people that live in her head.