Title: The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea
Author: Maggie Tokuda-Hall
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: May 5, 2020
A desperate orphan turned pirate and a rebellious imperial daughter find a connection on the high seas in a world divided by colonialism and threaded with magic.
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, as the pirates prepare to sell their unsuspecting passengers into slavery, Flora is drawn to the Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, who is en route to a dreaded arranged marriage with her own casket in tow. 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.
Soon the unlikely pair set in motion a wild escape that will free a captured mermaid (coveted for her blood, which causes men to have visions and lose memories) and involve the mysterious Pirate Supreme, an opportunistic witch, and the all-encompassing Sea itself.
Orphaned Flora changes her name to Florian to get off the streets and join a pirate ship with her brother. They take unsuspecting nobles on journeys to other lands, but then kidnap the passengers. Florian is given the task of guarding Lady Evelyn Hasegawa on her trip to meet her new husband. Florian ends up falling for Evelyn, and can’t stand the thought of having her kidnapped by the pirates onboard. Florian plans an escape for her and Evelyn that takes them on a long adventure.
There was a lot of diversity of the gender identities of the characters in this story. Florian was born a girl but presented as a boy to work on the ship. Evelyn had same-sex relationships. There were also some non-binary characters. I liked how natural it was for the characters to recognize non-binary gender identities. At one point, a character made a casual comment about their pronouns. It was nice to see the characters acknowledge these diverse gender identities.
There were great twists throughout the story. I love the unpredictability of pirate stories. There were battles and magical creatures which added to the suspense. I was surprised at the ending. I would love to see a sequel.
This was a fun pirate story!
Thank you Candlewick Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
Dark Shores (Dark Shores #1) by Danielle L. Jensen
Scavenge the Stars (Scavenge the Stars #1) by Tara Sim
Have you read The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea? What did you think of it?