Twilight Times Books logo


The Tail of the Sea-Witch
cover artwork © 2002 Ardy M. Scott.


Chapter Excerpt

Buy Now!
Format: PDF, HTML
    Payment Method ~ [U.S. & non-U.S. credit cards accepted.]
PayPal -or- credit card -or- eReader -or- Fictionwise -or- Sony eBookstore


The Tail of the Sea Witch

Wendy Maree Peterson




Chapter One: A Crown of Seagulls

I once knew a sea witch. Honest! But she’s gone away to sea, now, as she always said she would.

I wish she’d come back. When I look out across the ocean and see a patch of water that's not green or blue, I think of her eyes. And when I see the sky turning roseamberine at sunset, I remember her masses of hair. It was the same pretty colour. (She pronounced it ro-zeem-ber-een. Cool word, huh?)

I never believed what the kids at school said about her. But when I first saw her hair, I began to suspect. No ordinary person--or witch--could have hair like that.

Only a sea witch.

I felt very plain beside her. Usually I don’t care how I look because of my personality. Mum says I can talk her earrings off. (But that’s because she doesn’t screw them on tightly.)

In the lagoon where her houseboat is moored, I can still see her floating about her lovely things and smiling at me for no reason. Everything is exactly the way she left it, except for the sand that has crept over the floor and the spider-webs hanging off the beams.

From the cliff-top the lagoon looks a magical place. Surrounding the lagoon are frangipani and tropical trees with flowers that look as rich as jewels. To the left of the lagoon, you can see miles of sand glittering as if sprinkled with diamonds. In the distance, a wide sand bar separates the lagoon from the rush of the ocean.

But, no matter how hard you look, you will never see her houseboat. It’s our secret--Madame Sea Witch’s and mine.

I remember the first words she spoke to me. I was trespassing on her beach and picking some frangipani and brilliant red hibiscus. (I wanted to prove to the other kids that I’d really been there.)

She seemed to appear out of nowhere. I was watching an exquisite green and blue butterfly landing on a flower just above my head. I looked away for a second, and when I looked back Madame was standing there wearing the same colours as the butterfly.

I had such a weird feeling. I didn't know whether to make a dash for my boat or try to find out more about her.

"Hello," she said.

For the first time all my good words ebbed away.

"How did you get down to the beach?" she asked. "You couldn’t climb down the cliff. Surely you didn’t just swim?"

By now I had taken a really close look, and I was amazed how witchy and beautiful she was all at the same time. Besides her witchy roseamberine hair, she had starey eyes—like dead fish. It occurred to me it must be lonely being a sea witch with no other sea witches around. There were only farming families, fishermen and surfers around here. Yet, there was something powerful about her; something that made her seem important. She had a shawl of the sheerest green material wrapped around her shoulders; underneath she wore a floaty blue dress (might have been a nightie); on her feet she wore knitted bed socks with fluffy pom-poms. Her roseamberine hair was thick with tangles and knots as if she’d just climbed out of bed. I suppose the afternoon is early rising for a witch.

"How did you get down to the beach?" she asked again.

I pointed to the rubber dinghy on the sand bar and told her I had sailed around the cliff from the other beach.

Her amazing green eyes showed a glimmer of life. "In that toy?" she asked. But from her tone, I couldn’t tell if she was impressed or if she thought me crazy.

"Well, I’m not going to let you go back the same way," she announced.

"You don't have to worry about me. I'm an ocean girl," I told her.

"Yes, well, I think you must be," she said, then led me up the hot sand towards the mile-high cliff.

A black Labrador bounded up the sand and trotted along beside us. He had the longest tongue I’d ever seen. It didn’t seem to fit inside his mouth and was always hanging over the side. I wasn’t sure if he was friendly; so, I made friendly noises and held out my hand. He wagged his tail and licked me. I liked him, then.

The sea witch smiled this sweet smile, and her eyes sparkled like the diamond sand. At the same moment this pack of seagulls flew up and circled over our heads like an airborne crown. I watched the awesome crown of seagulls circling above us; but, when I looked down, the sea witch had gone.

I spotted her disappearing into a cave at the bottom of the cliff. That must be where she lives, I thought as I ran towards the cave. From the beach, I tried to see inside, but the entrance was overhung with vines and things. I didn’t want to go into her home uninvited, so I waited outside. I heard the sound of whirring and cranking and she reappeared.

A few metres from the cave, on the right, was a man-sized cage of black iron with fancy lacework. Madame swung the door open, smiled and beckoned.

I panicked a bit. She wants me to get into that cage? But then I noticed the tracks leading from the cage going straight up the cliff.

The lift rose slowly with me inside. I pressed against the iron lacework crushing the flowers I’d picked and watched her waving and smiling way down below. When the lift reached the cliff top, I watched her disappear into the jewel jungle surrounding the lagoon.






"The Tail of the Sea-Witch" Copyright © 2002. Wendy Maree Peterson. All rights reserved by the author. Please do not copy without permission.





Author Bio

Like the sea witch in Wendy's story, The Tail of the Sea Witch, she lives near a beautiful, deserted beach. Also, like the sea witch, when Wendy first moved to the small seaside resort, her neighbours speculated on whether she could be a witch. Not that she wore a black pointy hat or performed laps around the property on a broomstick; but she did live a reclusive life with just her menagerie of animals - including a charismatic goat called Jack - and she often wore an exotic array of clothing.

Is art imitating life? Again, just like the sea witch, Wendy isn't telling.

Wendy has been writing children's stories and musical plays for nearly twenty years. Her aim is to create stories and music that uplift the spirit, enchant the senses and inspire the mind by taking the reader beyond the limitations of mundane thinking into a more brilliant and exciting reality.

Author web site.

Visit Wendy's art gallery at The Australian Fantasy Art Enclave.




Order Info

Format: PDF, HTML
    Payment Method ~ [U.S. & non-U.S. credit cards accepted.]
PayPal -or- credit card



The Tail of the Sea Witch is a delightful middle grade fantasy about a young Australian girl who meets a reclusive woman whom her classmates had reported to be a sea witch. Marina, the young girl, stumbles across the witch’s beach and cave one day while rowing her dinghy. Then she stumbles across the witch, who is beautiful, kind, talented, and intelligent—all the things Marina would like to be when she grows up. Madame Witch, which is what she prefers to be called, insists she is a burned out actress who has come to Australia’s north coast to live with several animal friends and to paint while living on a salvaged ferry boat in the lagoon.

All is not idyllic as people, storms, and sickness threaten; however, along the way the witch teaches Marina many important things, such as: stewardship for the planet, the importance of friends and soul mates, the healing qualities of light, and the joy of imaginative play. The witch even has a mermaid’s tail that she claims she sometimes wore on stage, yet when she puts it on; she swims as fast as a dolphin. A trip to wonderful Atlantis enters Marina’s sleeping dreams, but are they dreams at all?

The author paints word pictures as wonderfully as the artist she writes about. The story is delightful and makes you think many of the so-called supernatural aspects of the witch are simply products of a child’s overactive mind—that is, until the end, and then the reader wonders. This is a powerful story, beautifully crafted, with important themes presented in a loving manner. The setting descriptions are awesome and the characters, especially the animals, are well defined and perky. We rated this book our highest level of five hearts.
Reviewed by Bob Spear for
Heartland Reviews.

Winner of the WordWeaving Award for Excellence

Eleven-year-old Marina once knew a sea witch who lived in a large houseboat in a private lagoon. Their friendship brings about imaginative happenings, leaving the reader uncertain how much truly happens and how much is the result of Marina's vivid imaginings. Perhaps the lady Marina believes to a mermaid is simply an enigmatic woman recovering from tragedy. Or perhaps she is truly a child of the sea.

Author Wendy Maree Peterson pens an entrancing young adult fantasy in The Tail of the Sea Witch. Peterson maintains a dream like narrative quality that creates a mystical world where the impossible becomes quite logical. In this world of opposites where dreams and reality merge as one, readers will find the beauty of legendary places and extraordinary creatures. Peterson's rich narrative style, replete with magical imagery and extraordinary vision, brings this story vividly alive. While the stated audience is young adults, readers of all ages will treasure this stunning tale. An extraordinary creation, of which readers will hope for sequels, The Tail of the Sea Witch earns the WordWeaving Award for Excellence.
Cindy Penn, Senior Editor,; eBook Specialist, Midwest Book Review

Rarely does one come across a book so rich in language and visual images that immediately entrance and capture a sense of magic within its pages. The Tail of the Sea Witch is just such a story, one whose delightful prose and atmosphere comes alive in color, texture and vision.

Eleven-year-old Marina meets an older, beautiful yet very different woman who lives in an old, abandoned ferryboat with her animals; a bird, a dog and a fox. With ‘Madame’, Marina experiences joys and emotions she’s never felt before, and in turn, Madame seems to blossom under Marina’s attentiveness.

A tale of friendship and the glory of personal uniqueness develop under the talented pen of Wendy Maree Petersen, who tells the tale with a rare depth of sensitivity and insight. Though written primarily for young adults, The Tail of the Sea Witch is a story with the potential to reach a vastly wider market, with good reason. This one is a keeper.
Reviewed by Denise M. Clark

Every now and again a book comes along that leaves the reader in awe at the beauty of its story. The Tail of The Sea Witch is such a book. The author has captured the essence of tropical North Queensland and put it down on paper.

The storyline is formed around the two main characters of the book, Marina and Madame Witche. Marina is a typical eleven-year-old girl, carefree, but at that stage in life where part of her wants to be grown up. Madame Witche takes the role of a teacher whose role is to guide Marina through this difficult period.

Marina discovers Madame Witche's home, an old ferry, in the lagoon near her home. She had been rowing her inflated dingy and made it to the beach inside the lagoon. This was where Madame Witche and her dog, Tongue-Tired, first met her.

A little frightened at first, Marina discovered that Madame Witche was not the sort of witch that captured and ate children. In fact, she was the complete opposite. The two soon become good friends and Marina spends each Saturday at the lagoon. It was during these Saturday visits that Marina began to find out more of what Madame Witche used to do. She once was a successful actress playing the role of "The Little Mermaid", in children's pantomimes all over the world. Then she lost her nerve to perform and retreated to the lagoon.

Madame Witche had two other pets that Marina became very fond of. One was a cockatoo that answered to the name of Captain. The other a very friendly fox called Louis.

One day Marina came down with a fever. Her whole body felt like it was on fire as her temperature rose to 106 degrees Fahrenheit. The local doctor said she must be admitted to a hospital. Marina says she will not go to hospital; she wants to go to Madame Witche's houseboat. After making a full recovery, Madame Witche tells Marina that they are soul mates. She declares that they each help one another in health and happiness. It is a bond that will last forever between them. Marina feels that Madame Witche is not what she seems. She feels that she has magical qualities that are very strong indeed. Just how strong and what they are she is very curious indeed to find out.

Wendy Peterson has done what most of us would like to do but never seem to have the time. She has taken an idea from her childhood and expressed it powerfully in a children's tale. It is an idea that pits the realm of the real world against a world of fantasy.

This very well-written book will also contain illustrations and sea music. It is one of the best Young Adult novels I have reviewed. If you are looking for quality literature for children look no further than - The Tail of The Sea Witch.
Reviewed by Warren Thurston, author of Gladiss And The Alien from Sunnyside Up Publishing and Inhouse Reviewer for Ebooksnbytes.

The day young Marina meets the beautiful Madame Witche on a deserted beach, is the day her life changes.

Madame Witche, an enchanting, ‘witchy’ creature in Marina’s eyes, lives in a huge houseboat on the beach, with her animals for company. Strangely fascinated by Madame and her lifestyle, Marina begins to spend more and more time with her.

From the day they met, Marina realises that there is something very magical about Madame Witche … the way she looks and dresses, the way she talks, the things she says … everything about her oozes magic and enchantment. But Madame Witche never admits to anything. Marina is convinced that the mermaid’s tail in Madame’s bedroom is not a theatre costume, as Madame would have her believe, but a proper mermaid tail, which Madame Witche wears to go and visit her own people -- the people of the sea.

When Marina falls desperately ill, her parents take her to Madame Witche, who agrees to look after her for a few days. And that’s when Marina experiences the most magical time of her life. Madame finally takes her on an underwater journey to her home … the lost city of Atlantis.

The Tail of the Sea-Witch is a beautifully told story, with a distinctly enchanting and magical feel to it. It is easy to imagine the beautiful, deserted beach where Madame resides, and equally as easy to let the imagination run wild as Marina is swept under the ocean towards Atlantis. And, within the story, lie many words of wisdom and truth, as told to Marina by Madame Witche.
Reviewed by Reno Charlton, author of The Secret Portal and reviewer for eBook Reviews Weekly.

Marina is an eleven-year-old girl who lives near the gorgeous seas of northern Australia. Her father is a fisherman, her mother a housewife. She is precocious, and a bit of a misfit by choice in school. Marina discovers that a sea witch lives right on the beach, in a large houseboat in a private lagoon.

Her name is Madame Witche. She insists that this is her name, not her vocation; but, of course, Marina knows better. The sea witch is enchanting, as any sea witch should be, quite beautiful and quite witchie.

Like any good sea witch, Madame Witche is surrounded by a menagerie of animals. Tongue-tied is a black Labrador. Captain is a cockatoo. Louis is a fox, and quite a special fox at that. (A fennec fox.) The clues are all there.

The author excels in quick, effective characterizations that only need a paragraph or two. The reader is easily drawn into this tale by subtle humor and a very convincing "childlike voice" which is never condescending. She brings the tropical paradise that is northern Australia's beaches to life, and she reminds us that there is magic in the world.

The stated audience of this book is young adults, but readers of all ages will enjoy it. The illustrations are also quite wonderful, and it's no surprise that The Tail of the Sea-Witch won the Word Weaving Award for Excellence.
Reviewed by Mike LaRocca for Inscriptions ezine.

Four Shooting Stars!!

..."The Tail of the Sea Witch" begins as Marina narrates the story of her close friendship with a sea witch, who had green eyes and roseamberine hair, named Madame Witche.

Madame Witche is a reclusive woman who lives alone on a houseboat in a private lagoon. The people in the area know of her and gossip about whether she is a witch or simply a hermit. Marina decides to find out and ventures in a small rubber dinghy to spy on the woman and determine if she is a real witch. Soon after Marina lands on the beach, of what seems to be a magical lagoon, she is greeted by Madame and Tongue-tied, the dog. From that moment, Marina is irrevocably drawn to this woman as a positive influence in her life.

...On her houseboat, Madama has many costumes and a mermaid tail. Madame claims to be an artist and an actor who played in children's pantomime productions of The Little Mermaid "all around the world" (11). However, Marina does not believe her and is certain that Madame is really a mermaid....

Peterson succeeds to entertain even the adult reader. The book seems perfect for the age group that matches that of the main character: eleven....

Overall, "Tail of the Sea Witch" is a touching story that depicts the age before we all lose our sense of wonder and appreciation for magic in the natural world. This is a coming of age story in certain ways...not a coming of age of in regards to sexuality and adulthood, but of learning through child-like wonder to accept all others and, most importantly, the self. Together the lessons of self-acceptance, appreciation for all living things, and a positive outlook are valuable lessons found in the fantasy text of "Tail of the Sea Witch."
Reviewed by Renée Faucher, for The Fiction Forum.

Marina paddled her dinghy into the lagoon on a dare. She had no idea what she would find, but she was convinced that the sea-witch was a figment of Johnny’s imagination. However, when Marina met Madame, with her flowing roseamberine hair and staring eyes, she wasn’t so sure.

Wendy Maree Peterson has truly woven magic with her “Tale Of The Sea Witch.” Exotic settings and exquisite characters bring to life this fantasy tale. Follow Marina and Madame as they discover the magic of friendships as well as the magic of opposites. This charming tale will, no doubt, touch the reader, who may discover a bit of magic to call her own.

Don’t let the magic pass you by.

I definitely recommend this book. It earns four out of five stars.

Reviewed by Sterling Pearce for Gotta Write Online.

Wendy Maree Peterson weaves a magical web of mermaids, the sea people of Atlantis, and the power of dreaming in The Tail of The Sea Witch. Through its vibrant illustrations comes the enchanting story of Marina, an eleven-year-old girl, who befriends Madame Witche, a mysterious, but beautiful sea witch.

Wendy Maree Peterson creatively incorporates youth problems in The Tail of The Sea Witch by depicting Marina as a young girl who feels out of place in “the wrong clothes.” Marina feels unattractive until Madame paints her portrait to show her true beauty, and shows her how to combine dreams with reality.

Wendy Maree Peterson expresses the importance in caring for animals through Madame’s exotic pets: a cockatoo named Captain, a Labrador named Tongue-Tied, and a long-eared fox named Louis.

The Tail of The Sea Witch captures its audience by keeping us guessing whether Madame is a mermaid, a sea witch, or simply an eccentric woman.

Wendy Maree Peterson combines delightful stories of Atlantis with charming images of unicorns and mermen guaranteed to fascinate children to the very end: “They stood beneath a tree of slender yellow leaves and dark red berries, watching me as I approached. I picked a few berries and held them out. They confidently picked up the berries with their mouths and began munching. I reached towards the horn of the larger unicorn. She watched me with bright, knowing eyes as I felt the velvety-silverish fur that covered her horn. The smaller unicorn nuzzled against my side as if to show he was a friend.”

Throughout The Tail of The Sea Witch, Wendy Maree Peterson provides a basic theme of friendship and its power. Aptly called, Wendy Maree Peterson shares her views on “the power of opposites,” as Marina learns about true friendship and the strength that comes with it. “When Madame spoke of there being magic where opposites meet, I thought of our friendship.” Wendy Maree Peterson delivers a magnificent escape to children through her choice of colorful tales and powerful beliefs, “Sometimes just to feel is more fun.”

Reviewed by Emily K. Bivens for Women on Writing.

Would you like to have your own Sea-Witch? Marina does. Her name is Madame Witche and she lives on a houseboat on the beach with only her animals for company. That is until Marina finds her. Madame says she's an actress from across the sea, but Marina's not so sure. Madame has a little bit too much magic to be human. But is she really a witch?

THE TAIL OF THE SEA-WITCH is a great book, especially for younger kids of elementary and middle school age. In its ebook form, it includes music and pictures that really pull the story together. Madame is a very special character with an enchanting personality who does the unexpected. The whole story is written with a magical touch that will bring out the kid in anyone.

Reviewed by Amanda Roberts for Romance Reviews Today.





Back to Twilight Times Books main page 




  A special note to TTB readers. All contents of this web site are copyright by the writers, artists or web site designer. If you discover any artwork or writing published here elsewhere on the internet, or in print magazines, please let us know immediately. The staff of Twilight Times Books feels very strongly about protecting the copyrighted work of our authors and artists.



Web site Copyright © 1999, 2000- 2009. Lida Quillen. All rights reserved.

Cover design © 2002 Ardy M. Scott. All rights reserved.

Twilight Times Books logo design by Joni.


This page last updated 01-02-09.


mp3 sequence copyright © 2003
Wendy M. Peterson
Ocean Sounds






  <BGSOUND SRC="wp_loopingwave.mp3" LOOP="-1">