Book Review: The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall
Updated: May 28
Queer pirates, mermaids, and witches! Need I say more?
Flora, also known as Florian, became a pirate aboard the Dove to survive. She's had to harden her heart to live on the seas, but when the Nameless Captain's latest scheme brings Lady Evelyn Hasegawa on board, Flora decides to make a break for it with the woman she loves and the mermaid they want to save. Their escape brings them into contact with a witch, and the Pirate Supreme and the Sea itself loom over them all.
Trigger warning for rape, torture, and violence.
I love The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea for so many reasons. First of all, the cover is absolutely gorgeous. Second of all, it reads like a fairytale, which is wonderful for escaping from reality. On top of that, it's a queer pirate story with fantastic POC representation.
The book is a bit unbelievable in terms of the love story, but I was willing to suspend my disbelief because of the characters and the adventure plot. The story is fast-paced and full of magic; I particularly love how the magic is based on story-telling.
Tokuda-Hall isn't overly descriptive, but I could clearly picture everything in my mind's eye: the Dove, the Floating Islands, the mermaids, etc. The imagery brought the story to life.
Other than the magic and the adventure, my favourite part of the story is the exploration of identity. Through Florian, Tokuda-Hall explores gender fluidity and self-acceptance, and through Evelyn, we see how class and privilege come into play.
If you can handle violence and allusions to rape, this story is a magical, queer, romantic adventure that will warm your heart.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Thank you NetGalley and Candlewick Press for the ARC!