Title: Tales of the Sea Witch
Author: Lou Wilham
Genre: YA Fantasy
Length: 138 pages
Publish Date: January 12, 2020
Murder, Violence, Homophobia, Death, Abuse
Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to Reedsy Discovery, and Lou Wilham for this free copy. All quotes in this review are taken from the Advanced Reader Copy and may change in final publication.
I know that there have been a few versions of the sea witch origin story, and some of them can be pretty similar which is fine, but I think that this is one of my favorite ones with a couple of exceptions.
First of all, I hate that in this one, we don’t even know if Irsa is her real name because apparently it was forgotten in history. This is what the prologue said and it literally broke my heart because the sea witch is always vilified without any form of humanity attached to her:
I mean even whatever her real name was something that her grandmother didn’t find particularly enjoyable or agreeing, so maybe it’s a good thing that history doesn’t remember the name she was given by her own mother. But just completely writing her name out of history because the world only sees her as a villain, nothing more, just breaks my heart. She didn’t start off as a villain, and in fact her story before she became this villain that everyone sees her as…. was just heartbreaking. I’m surprised she didn’t turn into a “villain” long ago. We’ve seen others do it but we still remember their names, right?
Anyway that’s just part of the plot that I was sad about, but I think that’s what made me feel for Irsa even more, and not write her off as just another villain that wants to tear the world apart. Which I think was great on Wilheim’s part for bringing some humanity to the situation and really make us feel bad for her as the years go by.
I know that when I first read that Irsa was assigned to be Calypso’s apprentice when apparently the “best” or “most powerful” witch in all of Alon never took on an apprentice in years or something, I was hoping that things were going to be great. But nope, of course not. Because why would a villain’s origin story be full of something good, right? I think the only good thing that happened in Irsa’s life growing up was her friendship with Aislin, and I’m so glad they had each other.
I love their relationship, and I was so glad that Aislin was able to see that something was wrong with Irsa and wanted to help save her somehow. She didn’t believe Irsa trying to cover for her abuser, and helped her come up with a plan to get out of that situation without blaming Irsa for being in it. Which can be so hard for people to realize that they do, so it was really nice to see this reflected in this novel.
I would say that the second part that I didn’t like was that Irsa was abused after having to deal with the first tragedy in her life, not to mention the POS “father” that was mentioned a little bit.
But other than that, I really enjoyed this short novel and I think it was a really interesting take on the sea witch origin story. Irsa is pretty damn powerful, and I think that if she was able to truly foster that power without being abused by someone she had to trust with her life, then who knows? Maybe she could have been one of the good guys. But villains are always more fun to read about, right?