The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

May 5, 2020

I received an advanced review copy in exchange for an honest review, however it does not influence my review. Quotes are taken from an unedited advanced review copy and is subject to change in the final copy. Thanks, Jamie and Candlewick Press for the review copy!

the mermaid the witch and the sea maggie tokuda-hall ya fantasy queer poc repThe Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall
Young Adult Fantasy, LGBTQ+
May 5, 2020 from Candlewick Press

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.

Reasons you need to add The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea to your library

the mermaid the witch and the sea aesthetic moodboard★ Mermaids and mermaid lore πŸ§œ‍♀️
★ Unique magic system and witches πŸ§™πŸ½‍♀️
★ THE QUEER AND POC REPRESENTATION!!! And cultures are carried throughout the story. πŸŒˆ
★ So many pirates: POC genderfluid pirate MC, morally grey pirates, evil pirates and pirate adventures. πŸ΄‍☠️
★ The world-building is vivid and imaginative. Reads like part fairy tale, part anime.
★ Black genderfluid pirate/Queer Japanese noblewoman romance, and it is wholesome πŸ₯ΊπŸ’•
★ You will grow to love the characters and adopt them, and would sacrifice your life to protect them even though they do pretty well on their own.
★ Addresses and challenges imperialism, colonialism, privilege, and nuanced exploration of class, gender identities and misogyny.
★ Found family
★ We love and stan character growth and self-discovery.
★ The Sea herself is an integral character of the story and tells tales from her POV. πŸŒŠ
★ Adventure across the sea, action, rescue mission, political intrigue, queer romances, rebels, witches, magic, and pirates abound within the pages.
★ All the feels.
★ A big F U to arranged marriages by falling in love with a genderfluid pirate while on the way to meet your future husband.


☀ Genderfluid Black MC
☀ Queer Japanese MC
☀ f/nb romance
☀ wlw relationship
☀ QPOC main and secondary characters

Content/Trigger Warnings

➤ Violence
➤ Substance abuse
➤ Homophobia
➤ Torture
➤ Slavery
➤ Mentions of assault
➤ Death
➤ Blood
➤ Colonialism

the mermaid the witch and the sea moodboard aesthetic

"There are those who are neither a man or woman. Those who were born and called the wrong gender and must reshape their story for those around them. But you. You're something else. You're whatever is safe. Both, maybe, but neither. Or interchangeable. Names are funny things, because they can feel like lies but tell our truths."

--Maggie Tokuda-Hall, The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea

"Including herself. Or himself. Both were equally true to her. Neither told the whole story."

--Maggie Tokuda-Hall, The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea

"We don't just read to imagine better lives. We read to be introduced to all kinds of lives. Any kind. Not just for ourselves, but for everyone around us. To understand others better. It's escape, and it's also a way to become more connected to everyone around you. There's power in that, you know. In understanding. It's like magic."

--Maggie Tokuda-Hall, The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea

"You're home now," Evelyn said.
She did not need to say: You're home because you're with me.
She did not need to say: I will be your home.
She only needed to kiss Flora, to let every part of them entwine. To give herself over to the love they had found together, extricated from circumstance and saved from tragedy.
And that is exactly what they did.

--Maggie Tokuda-Hall, The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea

[Quotes are taken from an unedited advanced review copy and is subject to change in the final copy]

Plot | πŸŒ™πŸŒ™πŸŒ™
Writing | πŸŒ™πŸŒ™πŸŒ™πŸŒ™
Characters | πŸŒ™πŸŒ™πŸŒ™πŸŒ™πŸŒ™
World-building | πŸŒ™πŸŒ™πŸŒ™πŸŒ™πŸŒ™
Diversity | πŸŒ™πŸŒ™πŸŒ™πŸŒ™πŸŒ™
Pacing | πŸŒ™πŸŒ™πŸŒ™
Swoon | πŸŒ™πŸŒ™πŸŒ™πŸŒ™πŸŒ™

Maggie Tokuda-Hall has an MFA in creative writing from USF, and a strong cake-decorating game. She is the author of the 2017 Parent's Choice Gold Medal winning picture book, Also an Octopus, illustrated by Benji Davies. The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea is her debut novel, which is due out on May 5th, 2020. She lives in Oakland, California with her husband and dog. Her dog is objectively perfect, thank you for asking.

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