My Rating: 5 stars!
Cover Rating: 10/10
Publisher: Candlewick press
Publish Date: May 5th, 2020
Number of Pages: 368 pages
Received: Netgalley provided an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.
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.
The pirate Florian, born Flora, has always done whatever it takes to survive—including sailing under false flag on the Dove as a marauder, thief, and worse. Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, a highborn Imperial daughter, is on board as well—accompanied by her own casket. But Evelyn’s one-way voyage to an arranged marriage in the Floating Islands is interrupted when the captain and crew show their true colors and enslave their wealthy passengers.
Both Florian and Evelyn have lived their lives by the rules, and whims, of others. But when they fall in love, they decide to take fate into their own hands—no matter the cost.
Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s sweeping fantasy debut, full of stolen memories, illicit mermaid’s blood, double agents, and haunting mythical creatures conjures an extraordinary cast of characters and the unforgettable story of a couple striving to stay together in the face of myriad forces wishing to control their identities and destinies.”
Opening Sentence: “Long after the sun had set, when the passengers were nestled neatly in their cabins, the crew gathered on the deck of the Dove.”
I greatly enjoyed this book. I loved so much of it. The structure, the characters, the magic! It was so well-constructed.
What I loved:
The discussion of gender. Flora is both Flora and Florian. Flora the girl who struggled alongside her brother Alfie to survive and Florian the boy who becomes a pirate of his own right. As far as I could tell reading Flora embraces both and I really loved seeing that in this novel. Also, The Pirate Supreme is non-binary and such a badass. They are also straight up called The Pirate Supreme and every-time their mentioned it’s full of badassery and I love them! I just liked that it’s there and that I’m seeing it so much more now then before. It makes me happy to see.
The way the story broke into parts. I loved the structure of this book. I rarely fall in love with pure structure, but this book does it so well. Each section was clearly defined and told the narrative well. It just fit neatly in a way I really appreciated.
Flora and Evelyn together. These two my lord! I love them together. They have this amazing bond that starts from Evelyn wanting to share books and stories with Florian and teach him how to read. To fighting together and loving each other later on not just as Florian but flora. This made my heart so happy. Especially, the ending which I refuse to spoil. It’s too good!
Rake. At first I wasn’t sure if I even liked Rake, but as the story went on I realized how much of a strong character he was. He’s one of the good guys as difficult as it is to be good in the circumstances of the novel.
The magic. I love a good magic system and I swear a magic system that uses stories to create magic is so beautiful. I loved the many stories the witch told in this book. I’m obsessed with it. It was amazing.
The mermaids. I loved how mermaids were portrayed in this book. I love what they eat. I love how Evelyn connected to the mermaid she wanted to save and saw how wrong it was for the sailors to take mermaid blood for their own. It was so cool. I don’t want to spoil the awesomeness of it.
All in All:
If you want to read a magical swashbuckling romance that is beautifully queer and just amazing in every way pick up The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea. I loved every moment of it. So amazingly written.
About the Author:
Maggie Tokuda-Hall is the author of the Parent’s Choice Gold Medal winning picture book, Also an Octopus, illustrated by Benji Davies, and the young adult novel The Mermaid, The Witch and The Sea.
She lives in Oakland, California with her husband, son, and objectively perfect dog.
She has a BA in Studio Art from Scripps College, and an MFA in Writing from University of San Francisco.
She is represented by Jennifer Laughran of Andrea Brown Lit.
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