The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea
In a world divided by colonialism and threaded with magic, a desperate orphan turned pirate and a rebellious imperial lady find a connection on the high seas. Aboard the pirate ship Dove, Flora the girl takes on the identity of Florian the man to earn the respect and protection of the crew. For Flora, former starving urchin, the brutal life of a pirate is about survival: don’t trust, don’t stick out, and don’t feel. But on this voyage, Flora is drawn to the Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, who is headed to an arranged marriage she dreads. Flora doesn’t expect to be taken under Evelyn’s wing, and Evelyn doesn’t expect to find such a deep bond with the pirate Florian. Neither expects to fall in love. Soon the unlikely pair set in motion a wild escape that will free a captured mermaid (coveted for her blood) and involve the mysterious Pirate Supreme, an opportunistic witch, double agents, and the all-encompassing Sea herself. Deftly entwining swashbuckling action and quiet magic, Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s inventive debut novel conjures a diverse cast of characters seeking mastery over their fates while searching for answers to big questions about identity, power, and love.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
A ruthless pirate and an aristocrat’s daughter seem like unlikely allies—and that’s exactly what makes them the perfect team. Born destitute and shunned, Flora became a pirate to escape starvation, but she longs for something more than the usual pillage and plunder. Meanwhile, noblewoman Evelyn has everything…except autonomy. Sold into a terrible marriage, Evelyn finds herself on the same ship as Flora. When a cruel act of deception throws both young women into the same deadly situation, they’re sent on a heart-pounding roller coaster of an adventure. We could immediately tell from Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s vivid and clever writing that these two seemingly opposite characters would share a deep bond, dependent as they are on each other’s unique strengths and knowledge to escape a grim fate. But could Flora and Evelyn’s connection be something even greater—like love? Melding a beautifully inclusive romance with an exciting swashbuckling adventure, The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea pulled us into a world of wonders we never wanted to leave.
Set in a fantastical world devastated by imperialism, Tokuda-Hall's YA debut follows a diverse array of characters as they journey across a conscious and omnipotent sea. After her family falls on hard times, 15-year-old Imperial noble Evelyn Hasegawa is shipped off to a forced marriage in the colonized Floating Islands. Aboard passenger ship the Dove, she is assigned a guard, Florian, who has worked as a crew member for the past few years, hoping to afford a new start with his brother. As Evelyn takes to Florian, teaching him to read, he struggles to keep two secrets: gender-fluid Florian is also known as Flora, and the Dove is actually a slaver that will soon turn on its passengers, imprisoning and selling Evelyn and the other Imperials. When the crew captures a mermaid to be vended for her blood, Florian vows to free both the creature and Evelyn, but their attempt to escape exposes them to other dangers, truths, and betrayals neither had imagined. Tokuda-Hall aptly explores themes of gender identity and misogyny while illustrating colonialism's horrors, in which even children must steal from and harm each other to survive. Interstitials by the sea lend a global viewpoint that ripples through the story without disrupting the narrative. Ages 14 up.
THE MERMAID THE WITCH AND THE SEA
I thoroughly enjoyed this book the whole way through. Very interesting characters and great LGBTQ+ representation. Not the casual young adult read that I thought, it had some discussion of colonialism and familial obligations and more. It was a wonderful read!
I love this book- it contains LGBTQ+ rep. Very good