Everyone knows what happens in the end. A mermaid, a prince, a true love’s kiss. But before that young siren’s tale, there were three friends. One feared, one royal, and one already dead.
When I discovered this is the essentially the “backstory” of the Little Mermaid’s Ursula, I was super excited. This isn’t a Little Mermaid retelling, but the start of it with resemblances within.
Years ago, Evelyn aka Evie lost her best friend Anna to the sea. She and her best friend, Prince Nik, have gone on since but just as Nik is looking for a possible future wife, a girl who resembles Anna in every way arrives in their town, Havnestad.
Not only does this girl, Annemette have a secret (she’s a mermaid), Evie does too (she’s a witch.) Both are considered dangerous and have to stay low or else they’re dead. Annemette has eyes for Nik while Evie has eyes for his cousin, Iker. Things seem to be going great until Annemette says Nik has to fall in love with her within four days or she’s dead.
It’s A Perfect Night For Burning Witches
As much as I love mermaids, I love witches more. Whether they be the fictional ones with magic or the real ones who are still highly misunderstood, I just find them interesting. It may be one the reasons I liked Evie. She’s caring, protective, and a bit stubborn but I still feel for her when the town is nasty towards her (and they don’t even know.)
You see, since Evie’s family is pretty poor, her being friends with Prince Nik is seen as repulsive. They think she’s just using him but to me, it never came across that way.
The Two Princes, A Mermaid, & A Witch
I liked Evie and Nik’s friendship (and possibly more, since it can be read that way early on.) The second Evie says Nik is just like her brother and there’s nothing else, I just assumed more would come out of it.
Iker, Nik’s cousin and also in line for a throne, has a “thing” for Evie. I can never tell what his intentions are. Iker is known for messing around and knows Evie’s had a crush on him for years, so when he comes back and immediately starts flirting with her, I just don’t know what’s up.
This isn’t a love triangle, but you can tell Nik doesn’t approve.
Annemette is hard to read as well. Evie immediately thinks she’s Anna back from the dead, but “Mette” denies it. Iker doesn’t trust her right away, but Evie knows deep down that’s her friend. Nothing about Annemette is truly known until the end of the book, which is in flashbacks to her mermaid life.
I feel that’s when things started to pick up.
For a good chunk of the book, not much happened except some mermaid sightings and Annemette trying to win Nik over. Since this isn’t The Little Mermaid, I wasn’t sure how it would end, but didn’t expect it to be a good one since this is technically Ursula’s backstory. Like I said, until we got Annemette’s backstory and her true intentions, I honestly wasn’t sure where it was going.
Another that irked me to no end, and to avoid spoilers, there’s an incident with Iker that completely changed his character to me. He didn’t trust Annemette for 95% of the story, but when a possible false accusation is given, he immediately believes her.
Then again I could never get onboard with his character, so I was leaning both ways: do I like him or is he just a jerk?
I think the thing that kept me reading is “how is this going to end?” Like I said, I just wasn’t sure. Who gets a happy ending, if anyone? Is Anna actually Annemette? How will Evie get outed as a witch, because it was built up through most of the book of it eventually happening.
But on the other hand, despite it being a bit slow, I was interested enough to keep going. The history of the town is well researched and like I said, witches. Evie is a likable enough main character, she does stand up for herself and doesn’t take crap from Iker, but sometimes her stubbornness would get in the way.
However, I did enjoy the ending. Those last final chapters made up for a big chunk of the book.
Overall, if you’re not a fan of slow-paced books, or things not “kicking into gear” towards the end, I wouldn’t recommend this book is for you. But for me, the character interactions would make up for that. I can’t say I LOVED this book, but it’s an enjoyable read.