The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea



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.The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea

Maggie Tokuda Hall is the author of Also an Octopus, illustrated by Benji Davies The Mermaid, The Witch, and The Sea is her first novel.You can read her writing for adults in her column for Catapult Magazine Fear and Loathing in Utero , and her fiction on The Rumpus, Joyland Magazine, and Columbia Journal for Literature and the Arts.She lives in Oakland, California with her husband, son, and objectively perfect dog.

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  • Hardcover
  • 368 pages
  • The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea
  • Maggie Tokuda-Hall
  • English
  • 01 February 2017
  • 1536204315

10 thoughts on “The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea

  1. says:

    There may come a day when it s about pirates and it s also queer doesn t immediately make me click want to read, but it is not this day

  2. says:

    The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea follows a pirate named Flora Florian and an aristocratic lady named Evelyn Their paths intertwine on the Dove, a pirate ship, and when they fall in love, they must escape, deal with witches, the Sea, spies, mermaids, and .It is with a heavy heart that I must admit that the face in the sea on the cover which I will never stop pointing out, by the way is exactly what I look like right now sad, vaguely whiny looking, and most of all, ugly That s in genera The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea follows a pirate named Flora Florian and an aristocratic lady named Evelyn Their paths intertwine on the Dove, a pirate ship, and when they fall in love, they must escape, deal with witches, the Sea, spies, mermaids, and .It is with a heavy heart that I must admit that the face in the sea on the cover which I will never stop pointing out, by the way is exactly what I look like right now sad, vaguely whiny looking, and most of all, ugly That s in general, though, not from the bookThepower they gave, the higher the price That was their power, but it was their burden as wellI m going to start out with the positives Because I d like to begin on a good note before I start, you know, completely dissing it.This book has a lot of good commentary on colonialism, imperialism, and misogyny The setting is inspired by our world, specifically as Japan being the colonizer imperialist force It also has some great representation, with a Japanese coded sapphic main character and a Black genderfluid main character I also was not expecting this to be a story on the darker side and I loved it Whatever that means about me we are ignoring that I enjoyed the aspects of the world where the Sea is a protective, vengeful force, like a mother, and the different, fun stories told about witchcraft.Unfortunately, that s pretty much it for everything I likedI have loved you She smiled, a quirk of her tremulous lips That is enoughMy first problem with The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea is that the romance is woefully underdeveloped In my notes, I wrote their relationship was like rich girl teaches pirate how to read BAM they re in love and I am not wrong.The romance was a big part of the story, and it was in fact a large motivator for both of the main characters So it was disconcerting when their relationship was written with a lot of finality and gravity when we had only seen them have Full Conversations approximately six times.My second problem, which I noticed when I was about halfway through the book, was that I didn t really care about the characters In fact, when there were side characters whose POVs were included near the end, I wasinvested in them than the actual protagonists Which is an issue, to say the least I liked Flora and I thought her backstory and arc were both great, but I didn t care a lot for Evelyn And the ending is definitely supposed to make you feel emotion or touch you in some way, but I read the entire thing with an absolutely straight face because I 1 didn t care, and 2 just wanted to be DONE with the bookShe did not need to say You re home because you re here with me.She did not need to say I will be your homeThe pacing was also terribly, weirdly off The book is divided into three different parts, and it felt like each had their own separate mini arcs that didn t mesh well together as one overall plot For example, in the second part, witchcraft was introduced and it was actually so cool and one of the only things I was interested in reading But nothing happened to it like it was introduced and then used only two times so what was the pointThe middle of the book suffered from boring dragging middle syndrome, and the ending was rushed, which made the events that occurred feel tacky I also hated how Florian s love for his brother was made to be really important but then was also thrown away so many times And I also didn t like how a lot of things in general were left unresolved it felt like lazy writing Overall, I m quite sad that I didn t love this book It had a lot of potential, especially with the messages and representation it offered But it lacked in a lot of areas, notably the characters, romance, and the plot itself I really wish I loved this at much as I love the cover, but alas I am but a moaning face in the sea o Edit Just now realizing that making the Black main character a crew member of a slaver ship may not have been the way to go If there are any Black ownvoices reviews I find talking about this, I ll link themrep Japanese coded queer MC, Black genderfluid MC, Black side characters, nonbinary side character content warnings death, murder, torture, almost drowning, depictions of blood, drinking, rape sexual assault off page Thank you to Candlewick Press for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review This did not affect my opinion in any way.All quotes are from an advance copy and may differ in final publication

  3. says:

    2.50 Stars I m really disappointed to say that this book did not work for me I was really excited to get the ARC copy of this Pirates, witches, mermaids and a sapphic romance what could be better Well it turns out a lot since I almost DNF d this book If this was not an ARC I would have permanently put it down I hate to say this but this just did not click with me much at all One of my biggest issues was the characters Almost everyone in this book is a jerk or worse Even the mains thems 2.50 Stars I m really disappointed to say that this book did not work for me I was really excited to get the ARC copy of this Pirates, witches, mermaids and a sapphic romance what could be better Well it turns out a lot since I almost DNF d this book If this was not an ARC I would have permanently put it down I hate to say this but this just did not click with me much at all One of my biggest issues was the characters Almost everyone in this book is a jerk or worse Even the mains themselves are not great One is a pirate who is a slaver How am I supposed to want to connect with that character I m someone who loves a good morally gray character but some things are just not redeemable The other main is a Lady of the ruling class who is sleeping with her servant who is clearly in love with her When the Lady is leaving does she make sure her faithful servant, best friend, and lover is looked after and actually has a job to feed herself No she takes off like see ya later And these are actually the two best characters in the bunch The rest of the people are all awful and I was not happy to jump into a few of their POV s One character even looked like Tokuda Hall was setting her up to star in a book 2, but that character is so unlikeable that I was yelling No Not her at the book I had trouble getting into the plot It seemed like it took so long to go anywhere that I just wanted the story to move on For a fantasy book like this I was hoping for an interesting magic system Instead that part let me down too As a bookaholic you would think I would love magic based on story telling Instead I found it boring and by the end of the book I didn t even get why the magical witch character was needed The only magical being in this book that I enjoyed were the mermaids I actually think the mermaid was the best part of the whole book.I did like the queer rep of a lesbian main and a genderfluid main, but the romance was a disappointment too The noble Lady character force teaches the pirate how to read A few pages later they instantly fall in love In love so deep the pirate will leave their family for the Lady I m not saying there is any reason why the romance can t be light and sweet, but at least make it feel like an actual romance and not just insta love.I was so excited to get this ARC that this was a pretty big letdown Maybe my expectations were too high If I was not such a character driven reader maybe this would have worked for meI don t know the answers to those questions, I just know that unfortunately this was not the book for me An ARC was given to me for a honest review

  4. says:

    The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea will take you on the journey of a lifetime Maggie Tokuda Hall has created characters that I ve never seen before, and then put them into an adventure that feelsreal than real life, and twice as unpredictable I wanted to live in the world of this book forever, and I can t stop obsessing about the rich tapestry of pirates, mermaids, witches and conniving nobles who inhabit it The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea might just remind you why you fell in love w The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea will take you on the journey of a lifetime Maggie Tokuda Hall has created characters that I ve never seen before, and then put them into an adventure that feelsreal than real life, and twice as unpredictable I wanted to live in the world of this book forever, and I can t stop obsessing about the rich tapestry of pirates, mermaids, witches and conniving nobles who inhabit it The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea might just remind you why you fell in love with adventure in the first place, and change how you think about the genre forever I envy anyone who s getting to experience this incredible book for the first time

  5. says:

    sniffs the air Do I smell a sapphic pirate romance

  6. says:

    Thank you to NetGalley and Candlewick Press for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.DNF 30%.For a long time I ve assumed the reason I dislike most fictional romances is that I m a bitter lesbian sick of having heterosexuality shoved in my face everywhere I turn That may still be the case, however, The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea proves that I can dislike fictional lesbian romance just as much as I dislike fictional straight romance.Because that was my number one probl Thank you to NetGalley and Candlewick Press for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.DNF 30%.For a long time I ve assumed the reason I dislike most fictional romances is that I m a bitter lesbian sick of having heterosexuality shoved in my face everywhere I turn That may still be the case, however, The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea proves that I can dislike fictional lesbian romance just as much as I dislike fictional straight romance.Because that was my number one problem with this book the romance It was poorly developed and clich First, a quick background We have two protagonists, Evelyn and Flora Evelyn is a wealthy member of the Imperial ruling class shipped off to marry a man she s never met There s our first clich Flora, called Florian, dresses as a boy edit as Isabel kindly informed me in the comments, view spoiler by the end of the book Flora identifies as genderfluid hide spoiler , which I love to see to fit in aboard the Dove, a pirate ship that masquerades as a passenger ship to lure in captives and sell them as slaves.Evelyn and Flora s relationship begins with what I m officially labeling the world s laziest attempt at enemies to lovers Flora hates the Imperials, and she tells us as soon as she meets Evelyn that she s determined to hate Evelyn too This doesn t happen because Evelyn is not like other rich people clich Cue insta love, or something very close to it Their feelings for each other have so little development I had to squint to find it The only meaningful interactions they have before falling in love consist of Evelyn teaching Flora how to read clich.So I didn t like the romance, and I didn t much like the characters either At first, Flora seemed like a well developed and interesting character, a morally gray young woman determined to make her way in the world until she met Evelyn Evelyn bulldozed Flora s convictions with the slightest effort, transforming Flora into a completely different person, one who only cares about Evelyn, who always does what Evelyn wants, even if it isn t in Flora s best interests I was farinterested in Flora s relationship with her brother, Alfie, or her mentor, Rake, both of which were sidelined to focus on her relationship with Evelyn.And Evelyn I get that she s a sheltered rich girl, but even that doesn t justify her lack of common sense She s supposedly caring and kind, and in a way she is to a fault , but she s somehow simultaneously incredibly self absorbed She doesn t consider how her actions will affect others, not even the people she supposedly cares about She does what she believes is the right thing even when doing so is stupid and dangerous And I know I already mentioned her not like other rich girls personality, but I have to mention it again because it is so grating.The worldbuilding was completely flat Each of the various nations is clearly meant to resemble a real world culture The Empire is Japan Tustwe, where Flora s mother is from, is Africa Quark is Europe You ll notice that both Africa and Europe are whole continents made of many distinct cultures I know that I m not sure Maggie Tokuda Hall does She cherry picks easily identifiable features of these geographical regions kimonos and tea, antelope and braided hair, pale skin and sunburns There s zero nuance If you re going to borrow real world cultures, do some actual research Otherwise, exercise your creativity and come up with your own fictional cultures.The fantasy aspects of the story were equally disappointing This book is called The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea I expected magic And there were traces of it, but not nearly enough to satisfy me Maybe there smagic in the latter two thirds of the book, but I ll never know because nothing in the first third convinced me to keep reading I was over one hundred pages in and the plot had barely started moving.The only reason I give this book two stars instead of one is that there were moments of inspiration when Tokuda Hall explored themes of imperialism, identity, and gender If she d coupled these themes withnuanced worldbuilding, I might have kept reading simply to see the concept fully realized And I did like Flora, as long as Evelyn wasn t around I would read a whole book about Flora But I didn t want to read onepage about Evelyn

  7. says:

    thinking about being an ambiguously gendered pirate riding around the seas falling in love with a very cool pirate lady thinking about being an ambiguously gendered pirate riding around the seas falling in love with a very cool pirate lady

  8. says:

    I was sent this book as an advance copy by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own. 2.5 starsTo understand the different stages of emotions I m going through while thinking about how to review this book, you have to keep in mind the kombucha girl TikTok, except make it ten times milder because I wish this book inspired the level of emotional investment as kombucha girl went through.This weird intro to say I have.some good things to say about this, I was sent this book as an advance copy by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own. 2.5 starsTo understand the different stages of emotions I m going through while thinking about how to review this book, you have to keep in mind the kombucha girl TikTok, except make it ten times milder because I wish this book inspired the level of emotional investment as kombucha girl went through.This weird intro to say I have.some good things to say about this, and the rest was a big mess, but I also can t bring myself to hate it because that would be too strong of an emotion to apply to this.The premise of this was what drew me in, the female nonbinary romance with a side of piracy sounded too good to be true, and, well You get where I m going The romance was just there, I guess It was okay It was too fast to be believable, but that often is with sapphic romance, and I was willing to not let it bother me I wasn t even bothered when the romance caused the nonbinary lead to take some pretty hasty and drastic decisions like leaving behind her only family, because I felt like that was part of her character arc in escaping what is essentially a codependent relationship with her brother Other than that, I never felt much for the romance at all.With that premise I was still willing to see what else was there, and as it turns out, there was a lot As the title suggests, the book is tripartite, with each arc being almost self contained I really liked the mermaid as a creature, not so much the book part named after her , I didn t care about the witch and the sea would have been cool if it was explored .And here lies the key to my review if anything had been explored , it would ve ended up being such a cool book, instead it tried to be so much that it became very little I really see where it was trying to go, but I would have appreciated less elements added to the story andexploration of the ones that could have made it a quite unique pirate book.If I tried to mentally remove any particular element from this novel, I would end up exactly with the same book I never felt like there was anything to it that was necessary to the story, not even the sea as the deux ex machina, not even the mermaid although I liked her , the witch only to a certain extent Magic was probably the best developed aspect of the middle section of the book, but then it was used twice and never again The Sea only acted when it was convenient The book started as a clear cut dual POV then it kept adding POVs, one of which I understood the significance of and the other was just annoying.But by far the thing I m most disappointed with, that could have saved the whole book and kept me reading and hoping until the end, was all the big talk about the mysterious and probably sexy nonbinary Pirate Supreme, only for them to appear and speak like two sentences And they didn t even do anything badass I feel cheated All this to say, there was so much and I think everything, from the characters to the plot, would have benefited from having less but better developed.There were also things I personally really don t want to read in my queer romances Without making any big or generalized statements, but speaking of personal preference I would like to never see another supposedly queernormative fantasy book use homophobia so casually In the spirit of the rest of the book, this too was used once or twice without any development or raison d tre, and as a queer person reading it to, you know, do some escapism and consume a sapphic romance, I m tired as fuck To add to this, of course the lesbian character is shipped away by her awful family to marry a man she s never met Of course in the course of the book she meets said man and he s a piece of shit, as are all of the other men she meets I cannot properly put this into words eloquently but when men yes, all of them pose a constant threat to your life as a queer woman, the constant threat of violence, sexual or otherwise, in a book that s supposed to be about a sapphic romance is not something I welcome I have DNF d a book with a very similar premise to this for this reason alone, and I have not done so here because I wanted to give a new to me author of color a chance.I can t speak about the nonbinary representation, but I think it was nice to show that there is not one way to be nonbinary The Pirate Supreme uses they them while Flora Florian uses she he and exists as both a boy and a girl I do wonder what Black and specifically Black nonbinary readers think, though, about this character being written by a non Black author.Overall, while reading I didn t have too many issues focusing or wanting to see where everything was going, and there were things I liked or things I wanted to seeof and only by continuing I realized they wouldn t go anywhere Most of my mostly negative thoughts in this review come from a post reading analysis, whereas my main thought while reading was this is perfectly average, there s only a few things that bother me And I still think that, in a way there is a place for average novels, and me reviewing it quite negatively shouldn t deter you from trying this book out yourself.While this is a standalone, it left enough things open for a potential sequel, including, very annoyingly, an epilogue by the least important POV character, but I don t think I will check it out if it ever comes out.TWs Torture, death, murder, mutilation, blood, violence, alcoholism, homophobia, mention of sexual assault

  9. says:

    My official blurb for this book is An utterly romantic and breathless adventure that wouldn t let me sleep until I d devoured every last word It s a journey of love, magic, and self discovery unlike any I ve ever read My unofficial blurb is that no word of my official blurb is remotely an exaggeration it s one of the most compelling books I ve read in ages, and I absolutely could not put it down I did not expect such an incredible gender self examination in such a wild adventure, or for t My official blurb for this book is An utterly romantic and breathless adventure that wouldn t let me sleep until I d devoured every last word It s a journey of love, magic, and self discovery unlike any I ve ever read My unofficial blurb is that no word of my official blurb is remotely an exaggeration it s one of the most compelling books I ve read in ages, and I absolutely could not put it down I did not expect such an incredible gender self examination in such a wild adventure, or for the romance to be so incredibly swoony, but this book does so much and achieves so much Definitely for fans of Amy Rose Capetta, Emily Skrutskie, and E.K Johnston

  10. says:

    This book is SO GOOD I wasn t expecting it to be amazing as it is and I m blown away The diversity, the representation, the plot, the characters, everything about this book is 10 10 I did assume from the cover that this was middle grade, which it is definitely not This book isn t slow at all and the action starts right away, which I loved It s fast paced without being rushed and the plot is so engaging, I would being reading for hours and never get bored I loved the characters so much I e This book is SO GOOD I wasn t expecting it to be amazing as it is and I m blown away The diversity, the representation, the plot, the characters, everything about this book is 10 10 I did assume from the cover that this was middle grade, which it is definitely not This book isn t slow at all and the action starts right away, which I loved It s fast paced without being rushed and the plot is so engaging, I would being reading for hours and never get bored I loved the characters so much I enjoyed the diversity and representation so much I can t remember the last time I read a diverse fantasy YA book thatI enjoyed so much.The writing was wonderful and the concept was fantastic I honestly have nothing negative to say about this book, I enjoyed it so much It s been such a long time since I ve loved a YA book so much and The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea is everything I needed from a YA book andI highly recommend picking up a copy

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