Seach Witch is the first book by Helen Hollick on the adventures of the pirate Jesamiah Acorne. This book accompanies him from being a standard pirate to finding his true love, Tiola, a white witch. Through various difficulties, the unlikely pair—him a pirate, thief and murderer, her a healer and witch of the good—find each other’s love.
For me, there are two kinds of pirate books: Those that tell a romance with a piracy-themed backdrop, and the good ones. While a romance is an integral part of a good pirate story and can well be the main plot, I prefer it if the story still is primarily about pirates and ships, and not primarily about a romantic relationship. And while Sea Witch is not a pure romance novel, the story focuses a lot on the deeply romantic relationship between Acorne and Tiola.
Helen Hollick balances this out with historical accuracy that is unknown in more romance-focused stories. Even though dates have been slightly adjusted, most of the events in the book have historical backing, and there is an appendix explaining the liberties taken for the sake of telling a good story. While the historical backdrop is accurate, I felt that the everyday interaction of the characters, in particular the main protagonists, lacked some of the historical feel. Instead, sometimes it feels as if the characters have a modern mindset and just accidentally stumbled into the historical world. Sea Witch manages this much better than many historical novels I’ve read, but it was still slightly distracting at times.
All in all, Helen Hollick tells an interesting blend of piracy and her own kind of witchcraft, without falling into the comical humor of Pirates of the Carribean. It is quite enjoyable to follow the story, as it is obvious from her writing that she dearly loves each and every one of her main characters. And even though the romance aspect was a bit too strong for my personal liking, I enjoyed reading the book.
If you like pirate stories and are not afraid of a heavy focus on romance, the Sea Witch is for you. Myself, I will have to think hard about whether I want to continue reading the series, though.