counter create hit The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea

Availability: Ready to download

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: 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.


Compare
Ads Banner

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: 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.

30 review for The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea

  1. 5 out of 5

    Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)

    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. 5 out of 5

    may ➹

    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 more. 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 more. 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 book.) The more power they gave, the higher the price. That was their power, but it was their burden as well. I’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 liked. “I have loved you.” She smiled, a quirk of her tremulous lips. “That is enough.” My 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 was more invested 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 book. She did not need to say: You’re home because you’re here with me. She did not need to say: I will be your home. The 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 point... The 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 them! :: rep :: 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. 4 out of 5

    Lex Kent

    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 me more. I 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. 4 out of 5

    Charlie Anders

    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 feels more real 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 feels more real 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. 5 out of 5

    Tara ☽

    *sniffs the air* Do I smell a sapphic pirate romance?

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ash

    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 cliché. 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 cliché.) 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” (cliché). 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 (cliché). 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 far more interested 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’s more magic 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 with more nuanced 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 one more page about Evelyn.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Elise (TheBookishActress)

    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. 4 out of 5

    Silvia

    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 stars To 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 stars To 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 more. And here lies the key to my review: if anything had been explored more, 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 and more exploration 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'être, 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 see more of (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. 5 out of 5

    Dahlia

    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. 4 out of 5

    Taylor Knight

    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 and more. I highly recommend picking up a copy.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Alaina

    What a fun adventure! Probably should've waited to dive into these LBGTQ+ romance books since June is right around the corner BUT I just couldn't. I wanted to dive into this because so many freaking people were reading it. I had series FOMO guys. The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea was a pretty interesting book. Anything with pirates will make me automatically want to dive into it. The characters throughout this book were written pretty well. Even if they were all pretty self-centered and complete What a fun adventure! Probably should've waited to dive into these LBGTQ+ romance books since June is right around the corner BUT I just couldn't. I wanted to dive into this because so many freaking people were reading it. I had series FOMO guys. The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea was a pretty interesting book. Anything with pirates will make me automatically want to dive into it. The characters throughout this book were written pretty well. Even if they were all pretty self-centered and completely selfish throughout the book. Heck, I will even admit that at some points in this book I was confused about what was exactly going on. Maybe it's because I was listening to the audio but who knows. In the end, the adventure was pretty entertaining and I am happy that I dove into it. Off to my next adventure book!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lea (drumsofautumn)

    [update feb 14th i also just found out this is a f/nb romance 🥺] “magic and mayhem set aboard a pirate ship” y’all know this was written for me, don't even pretend otherwise

  13. 4 out of 5

    Stacy Fetters

    "There's freedom in stories, you know. We read them and we become something else. We imagine different lives, and while we turn the pages, we get to live them. To escape the lot we're given." Mermaids and Witches are two things that I love. They are mysterious, dark, and full of magic. It's something that I need to bring forth into my life. There's just something about them that grabs my attention and seeks something deep inside of me. So when I read the title and saw the cover, I knew that this "There's freedom in stories, you know. We read them and we become something else. We imagine different lives, and while we turn the pages, we get to live them. To escape the lot we're given." Mermaids and Witches are two things that I love. They are mysterious, dark, and full of magic. It's something that I need to bring forth into my life. There's just something about them that grabs my attention and seeks something deep inside of me. So when I read the title and saw the cover, I knew that this book was something that I needed in my life. The synopsis just made it all the more intriguing. Early on, you know that this is going to be something unique and groundbreaking. Something to make you spin on your head because it'll be like nothing that you've read before. It flowed together exquisitely and made you fall in love with the tale of love, finding your identity, and fighting for what you truly believe in. This wasn't an instant love for me. The first chapter with Evelyn didn't draw me in like the rest of the book. Once she made her way on The Dove, that's when her character opened up and showed compassion towards her guard. Florian was a hit from the beginning and my favorite. It was easy to fall in love with some of the characters but I wish there was more backstory to the lot of them. Some of the secondary characters got lost at sea. The author does a fantastic job with the identity struggles that Flora/Florian faces. She goes between different pronouns when Flora/Florian struggles to identify with who they are inside. She represents this perfectly in a way that makes the reader understand and feel what they are going through. The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea was a dark, twisty, and gory read with lots of action, beautiful lore, and lots of heart. This was truly a mesmerizing tale that never got boring. It was non-stop from beginning to end. I highly recommend this if you need something different in your life!!

  14. 4 out of 5

    anna (½ of readsrainbow)

    adventures, pirates and a poc f/genderfluid couple...................... i literally could not ask for more

  15. 5 out of 5

    Connor

    [3-3.5 Stars] I was initially drawn to the cover art because woah! Victo Ngai's artwork is stunning. I then read the blurb and knew I wanted to see what this book had in store. We follow Flora/Florian an orphan-turned-pirate who works on the Dove (the ship) alongside her/his brother. They pretend to be a passenger vessel and then enslave all of the passengers. We also follow Evelyn, a lady that doesn't behave as an aristocrat ought to. They meet when Evelyn is arranged to marry a far-off nobleman, [3-3.5 Stars] I was initially drawn to the cover art because woah! Victo Ngai's artwork is stunning. I then read the blurb and knew I wanted to see what this book had in store. We follow Flora/Florian an orphan-turned-pirate who works on the Dove (the ship) alongside her/his brother. They pretend to be a passenger vessel and then enslave all of the passengers. We also follow Evelyn, a lady that doesn't behave as an aristocrat ought to. They meet when Evelyn is arranged to marry a far-off nobleman, and Evelyn becomes a passenger on the Dove. I will say straight off the bat that this is a light/shallow fantasy novel. The magic is free-flowing, without many rules. The only rule is in the blurb. Mermaid blood makes people forget parts of their lives. The relationships between characters aren't all that deep. The places and cultures are fuzzy as well. So I wouldn't advise anyone going into this to expect a fully fleshed out magic system or world. It's more about Flora and Evelyn falling for each other and what they'll endure to be together. It has more of a fairytale vibe to it than a contemporary fantasy story. I think with the correct expectations, people will have a great time following this story. Would I like to know more about the pirate societal structure? Sure. Would I like to understand the different cultures of the various populations? Yes. The author pulls elements from Japan and other real world places. Would I like to know the motivations of the witch and the reason why the witch character was included in this? Of course because she's really not needed. Would the story greatly benefit from deeper relationships between characters? I think so. Was I sad that we didn't get to explore the nonbinary (they/them) pirate leader? Yep. But at the end of the day, a lot of the deeper details aren't needed to tell the core of this story. There is not one morally correct character. They all kind of suck in their own ways which was interesting to see. Evelyn is young and scoffs at the idea of being "like other noble girls." She also totally does not give a crap about almost anyone but herself and then Flora. Flora/Florian is a murderer and has been enslaving people for years and years. Her/his brother, Alfie, sucks. The first mate, Rake, sucks. The witch sucks. The Sea kind of sucks. Everyone sucks. It was a bold choice, and one that I think can work against the novel. It's harder to care about what happens to them if there isn't a character that I truly root for anywhere in the story. I didn't find myself rooting against characters either, unfortunately. It can be just as fun to root against characters, hoping they meet messy ends, but the characters weren't overly despicable. I do like that the novel is split into three main sections corresponding to three mini-plots that the characters go through. However, the Witch section is definitely the weakest, which was disappointing because I finally started getting into the story at about 125 pages in - just before the Witch section begins. I think it could have been cut much shorter and the extra pages diverted to the last part which seemed too short and could have benefited from spreading out. I did like that there is an added POV (apart from the interludes from the perspective of the Sea) which I didn't know I needed. I think that it starts around the same time that I got invested in what was happening. I think it also serves to make the main two characters a tad more interesting because it shows that the girls are not fully on their own. I didn't love the random one chapter from a fourth POV, but it somewhat ties up a loose thread. In the end, it's a fun story of a pirate and a Lady trying to be together despite multiple actors trying to keep them apart. I'd recommend it to someone with the right expectations of a fairytale rather than a concrete fantasy world. Trigger Warning: (view spoiler)[ Alfie has been raped by another male character multiple times (off the page), but it's brought up a few times. Also, Evelyn is under a hazy threat of being raped by any of the male crew members, even though she doesn't know it. Also, homophobia. (hide spoiler)]

  16. 4 out of 5

    laurel [suspected bibliophile]

    DNF at 23% I wanted to like this a lot more than I did, but pirate books, much less YA pirate books, are a very hard sell for me. Samesies with any books that mention corsets more than twice in the first ten pages. With #ownvoices rep, sapphic relationships, anti-colonialism and more, however, this tempted me to try again with the YA pirate drama (did not know about the abundance of corsets). It wasn't for me, but it might be the book for someone else! I received this ARC from NetGalley for an hone DNF at 23% I wanted to like this a lot more than I did, but pirate books, much less YA pirate books, are a very hard sell for me. Samesies with any books that mention corsets more than twice in the first ten pages. With #ownvoices rep, sapphic relationships, anti-colonialism and more, however, this tempted me to try again with the YA pirate drama (did not know about the abundance of corsets). It wasn't for me, but it might be the book for someone else! I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review

  17. 4 out of 5

    The Captain

    Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this young adult fantasy eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . . Upon seeing the beautiful cover and reading the synopsis, I thought this novel would float me boat.  No such luck.  I read 40% before abandoning ship.  The only reason I read that long is that I wanted to know about the mermaids. I was prepared to root for a sapphic romance between the orphan turned bad pirate and the spoiled naive rich girl.  But bas Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this young adult fantasy eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . . Upon seeing the beautiful cover and reading the synopsis, I thought this novel would float me boat.  No such luck.  I read 40% before abandoning ship.  The only reason I read that long is that I wanted to know about the mermaids. I was prepared to root for a sapphic romance between the orphan turned bad pirate and the spoiled naive rich girl.  But basically the leads suck.  Both are intelligent but don't use their brains.  Both are kinda hateful.  Pirate girl has no problems being a slaver and her selfishness is appalling.  The only person she kinda cares about is her brother but that is out of guilt.  Rich girl dumps her former lover and "best" friend (and servant with no power) with nary a thought about her feelings or future. Pirate girl is determined to hate rich girl.  But insta-lust still ensues.  Rich girl has no common sense but wants a friend.  But wait!  Pirate girl is dressed like a boy!!  But Shakespeare this ain't.  No comedy just weird internal angst and a ridiculous reveal moment.  On top of that the portrayal of ship life is laughable and the circumstances of the two girls interacting is just plain stupid and makes no sense. As for the mermaid, the backstory and character angst took up the first 30% or so.  Then we finally get the mermaid.  I liked the mermaid depiction but it took up so little of the plot and the "twist" about feeding it was stupid.  The mermaid fun was nowhere to be found. I should have given up on this book as soon as rape was used as a motivating character trait for a baddie early on.  I was seduced by the siren's song much to me disadvantage.  I should have known better. So lastly . . . Thank you Candlewick Press!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    With a title like this, you would think I wouldn't get bored, right? I mean, there should be a lot to love... 1. Mermaids 2. Pirates 3. Witchcraft 4. And an LGBT romance + POC rep Well... Unfortunately, I didn't love this book. The biggest problem I had was that I never really got invested in the story or characters. I mean I did a little, just not enough in the long run. I knew if they died, it wouldn't have bothered me all that much. And when I don't care, I don't enjoy reading. There wasn't a lot With a title like this, you would think I wouldn't get bored, right? I mean, there should be a lot to love... 1. Mermaids 2. Pirates 3. Witchcraft 4. And an LGBT romance + POC rep Well... Unfortunately, I didn't love this book. The biggest problem I had was that I never really got invested in the story or characters. I mean I did a little, just not enough in the long run. I knew if they died, it wouldn't have bothered me all that much. And when I don't care, I don't enjoy reading. There wasn't a lot of depth to this book especially with the world-building and the romance. The lady taught the pirate how to read and they were in love. Just like that. I didn't feel the love and reading some reviews, I wasn't the only one. It was all very shallow. When Flora was with the Witch, I expected magic. However, I found that part so boring. We didn't even really had magic? Her learning should have been interesting but it was the worst part for me. That's when I knew I wanted to rush to get to the end. Also, can we speak about Genevieve's point of view came out of nowhere and was useless. This book was an anticipated release but it just didn't do it for me. The ending felt a little weird but at that point, I was already done with this story. At least, the story was tied up (perhaps too nicely) and since I pushed myself to finish it, I can say I read it... (Thank you for letting me read and review an ARC via Netgalley)

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    Whoa, did TMtW&tS ever help me escape the world we’re in right now. I loved it so much and I can’t stop thinking about it. I’ve already told eleven friends in the two days since finishing it that they must read this book. And when my eight-year-old daughter asked me what I was doing while I was writing this review, I said “I’m writing about a book that I can’t wait for you to be old enough to read.” I am seriously stoked for her and her little sister to read about these badasses some day. As much Whoa, did TMtW&tS ever help me escape the world we’re in right now. I loved it so much and I can’t stop thinking about it. I’ve already told eleven friends in the two days since finishing it that they must read this book. And when my eight-year-old daughter asked me what I was doing while I was writing this review, I said “I’m writing about a book that I can’t wait for you to be old enough to read.” I am seriously stoked for her and her little sister to read about these badasses some day. As much as I’m sad it’s over, I’m excited too because the epilogue hints at a sequel. I will be ready and waiting, probably having reread this one a few times, because I so want to go back to this world. Full review: https://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/r...

  20. 4 out of 5

    Juli

    When an orphan girl takes on a male persona and boards a pirate ship, adventure, danger and even romance are a given. Throw in a witch, a mermaid and pirate antics and you have an entertaining and fun read. Note: the main characters in this book are queer, so if you are one of those people that does not enjoy queer romance stories or LGBTQ fiction, give this one a pass. I enjoyed this story. It was a fun, entertaining read. I love anything with pirates, so this was an easy plot to enjoy. At time When an orphan girl takes on a male persona and boards a pirate ship, adventure, danger and even romance are a given. Throw in a witch, a mermaid and pirate antics and you have an entertaining and fun read. Note: the main characters in this book are queer, so if you are one of those people that does not enjoy queer romance stories or LGBTQ fiction, give this one a pass. I enjoyed this story. It was a fun, entertaining read. I love anything with pirates, so this was an easy plot to enjoy. At times the main characters were a bit hard to like. They both have a tendency to be selfish jerks at times. But the cool, magical world filled with mermaids and pirates pretty much carried the story past any personality issues. Nice mix of magic, adventure and romance. Fun read! The front cover art is amazing! **I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Candlewick Press. All opinions expressed are entirely my own**

  21. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    2,5* I've said it before and I'll say it again: this doesn't feel like a final draft to me. It has some pretty cool aspects, but it's too messy and all over the place to really work for me

  22. 5 out of 5

    Shealea

    I brought The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea for my beach trip with Kate, and this definitely made for a perfect beach read! Full review to follow, but here are my initial thoughts: 🌊 Genderfluid Black pirate and queer Japanese noblewoman fall in love aND IT IS GLORIOUS! 🌊 Extremely fascinating mermaid lore! 🌊 Witches and ~*magic*~ in storytelling 🌊 Thoughtful critique about imperialism and colonialism 🌊 Nuanced exploration of class differences 🌊 Themes of self-discovery, sacrifice, ambition, and (fou I brought The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea for my beach trip with Kate, and this definitely made for a perfect beach read! Full review to follow, but here are my initial thoughts: 🌊 Genderfluid Black pirate and queer Japanese noblewoman fall in love aND IT IS GLORIOUS! 🌊 Extremely fascinating mermaid lore! 🌊 Witches and ~*magic*~ in storytelling 🌊 Thoughtful critique about imperialism and colonialism 🌊 Nuanced exploration of class differences 🌊 Themes of self-discovery, sacrifice, ambition, and (found) family 🌊 Also looks into survival, trauma, alcohol and substance addiction, and misogyny 🌊 Excellent writing style 🌊 Flora wanted to hate Lady Hasegawa, but the Lady made it difficult. (DELICIOUS PINING!!!) 🌊 Fantastic ending!!! Highly recommended! * I received a physical ARC of this book from Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jacqueline (Jbooklover)

    *Was sent an eARC from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review* 1/5 stars Wow...and not in a good way. To say I was so disappointed is an understatement. This makes me so sad because it had SO MUCH POTENTIAL! We have a a Japanese sapphic main character and a Black genderfluid main character alongside the elements of colonialism and elements such as mermaid, witch, and piracy. One overarching con I had was the lack of development with everything; the characters, the romance *Was sent an eARC from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review* 1/5 stars Wow...and not in a good way. To say I was so disappointed is an understatement. This makes me so sad because it had SO MUCH POTENTIAL! We have a a Japanese sapphic main character and a Black genderfluid main character alongside the elements of colonialism and elements such as mermaid, witch, and piracy. One overarching con I had was the lack of development with everything; the characters, the romance, the world building, and the plot. From the underdevelopment of the story as well as the pacing of the story (which was weird) had me struggling to even stay with the book. I almost DNF'd it multiple times. Trigger Warning: (view spoiler)[death, murder, torture, and rape/sexual assault (off-page) (hide spoiler)]

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kristi Housman Confessions of a YA Reader

    I really liked that this was a darker story than I usually find with pirates and mermaids. Florian was born Flora. Flora and her older brother, Alfie, were orphans that were desperate for a place to go. They found a ship, The Dove, and had to prove themselves worthy to be a part of it. Flora had to be Florian and hide that she was born a girl. Flora did feel like Florian a lot, too. The captain of the ship was a horrible man. So was a man named Fawkes. Alfie was still traumatized by what Fawkes d I really liked that this was a darker story than I usually find with pirates and mermaids. Florian was born Flora. Flora and her older brother, Alfie, were orphans that were desperate for a place to go. They found a ship, The Dove, and had to prove themselves worthy to be a part of it. Flora had to be Florian and hide that she was born a girl. Flora did feel like Florian a lot, too. The captain of the ship was a horrible man. So was a man named Fawkes. Alfie was still traumatized by what Fawkes did to him. The Dove was no ordinary ship. They took in people as a passenger ship. Once they were on the sea, they took them as prisoners and it became a slave ship. They could sell them for a good price. Another thing they could sell was a mermaid. Mermaid's blood was highly desired. Men would drink the blood and slowly forget things. The Nameless Captain drank so much that he can't remember his own name. The Sea did not like when her mermaids were captured and she would punish anyone who drank from them. Evelyn was an Imperial with parents that never really loved her. They were quick to send her off to get married. She was to be on The Dove for five to six months before she would meet the man meant to be her husband. Evelyn was excited to leave, but she wasn't sure about being married to a man. Her father caught her kissing a girl right before she left. It wasn't ok for Imperials. On the ship, Florian is tasked to guard Lady Evelyn from Fawkes. Florian hated Imperials, but Evelyn was hard to hate. She started teaching Florian how to read and they spent almost all their time together. Florian realized that he was falling in love with Evelyn, but Evelyn didn't know the real Florian. He wasn't sure he knew the real Florian. When away from the boat, she went by Flora. But both felt right. Things don't go well and Florian and Evelyn escape along with a captured mermaid. They save the mermaid and the Sea rewarded them with help. They washed up on a shore and was taken to the witch. Florian was hurt and not awake. Evelyn was sent off to her fiance. Flora woke up and thought Evelyn left on her own. She was upset and confused. The witch decided to teach Flora to be a witch, too. Witches were thought to be evil and gone, but Xenobia was still alive. She taught Flora that magic had a price. She had to give something to get something. Most of the chapters were Evelyn or Flora, but there were a handful with other characters. There were interludes that were the Sea which I loved so much. She was powerful and controlled pretty much everything in the sea. The Pirate Supreme was loyal to the see and the mermaids. He wanted to take The Dove at some point and had an operative on board. That captain and his crew killed too many mermaids. The book flowed really well with three parts: The Mermaid, The Witch, and The Sea. I thought the pacing was good and I definitely adored both Flora and Evelyn. There were a lot of characters to hate and some twists and betrayals. Overall, I really loved this. I gave this book 4 1/2 stars rounded up to 5. Thank you to Candlewick Press for my review copy. Warnings for implied sexual assault, torture, blood, death, addiction, slavery, colonialism. I may be forgetting a couple things. The book definitely has some dark topics.

  25. 4 out of 5

    ♠ Tabi ♠

    well of course magic and mayhem is what I expect of life aboard a pirate ship okay well of course magic and mayhem is what I expect of life aboard a pirate ship okay

  26. 4 out of 5

    Bon

    Thanks to Netgalley for an advanced copy for review, but this was just...OK. I’m finally getting over my fear of rating ARCs lower if I didn’t like them, lol. This…had promise, and ticked a lot of boxes in terms of diversity and own-voices representation but, um, at some points it did just feel like it was going down a list. Characters were of color, great, cool, characters were LGBT and established as such even before the story began in some cases, awesome, but…There was something missing. The ma Thanks to Netgalley for an advanced copy for review, but this was just...OK. I’m finally getting over my fear of rating ARCs lower if I didn’t like them, lol. This…had promise, and ticked a lot of boxes in terms of diversity and own-voices representation but, um, at some points it did just feel like it was going down a list. Characters were of color, great, cool, characters were LGBT and established as such even before the story began in some cases, awesome, but…There was something missing. The main pairing felt very, very insta-love, something I hate. The book isn’t even very long, but somewhere between the ten and forty percent marks, the leads are deeply in love. Okay. Suspend disbelief there – but other things, like the fact that every plot arc was kind of wrapped up in a handy bow by the end. I disliked the ending, I won’t say more because spoilers, but…There could have been different things done. I hate that the fact that one plotline is a character learning magic, only for it to all feel kind of a moot point by the end. Very frustrating, given that the magic was super cool when it was shown. But their abilities sort of fizzle out in the wake of Something Else that happens at the end. Kudos for a few things. One, I love the nautical vibes and piracy themes. It was interesting with the Sea being sort of an all-knowing, sentient being, a call-back to elemental deities and all sorts of mother earth coolness. There was a scene where a ship, sanctioned by The Sea, is cruising along with like, sharks and sea creatures in its wake, and honestly that was an incredible image. The end conflict reminded me of a Pirates of the Caribbean movie, at least for a good minute! There is also some Good commentary on imperialism, colonialism, gender politics and the like. I really enjoyed the gender fluidity of one of the protagonists, as well – and other characters are given they pronouns and stuff. At one point a character directly asks what another would like to be called by, pronoun-wise, and that was good stuff. It just felt… I’m not sure, some of this stuff felt shoehorned in and not like organic plot inclusions or developments. I saw a fellow reviewer refer to this as something like, classy royal girl teaches other to read, and bam, they’re in love. Franky that’s pretty spot-on, something that disappointed me. I’m unsure if this is to be a series – honestly with the inconsistent worldbuilding, I think at least a duology would’ve been better. Some things are kind of left hanging, BUT other things that didn’t need to be tied up with a shiny bow could have been left. All in all, I felt like I was pushing myself to finish this because it was an ARC, not because I enjoyed it.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Emily Forsyth

    “I have loved you, that is enough” Oh my gosh okay I adored this book. There might be a day where sapphic pirates and mermaids aren’t my favourite thing in the world but today is not that day. This story was beautiful and romantic and so queer it was beautiful. Literally my only issue was that one of the main characters is black and is part of a slaver ship and that made me uncomfortable for a while. It did get challenged later on though but just be aware of that if that’s something that would m “I have loved you, that is enough” Oh my gosh okay I adored this book. There might be a day where sapphic pirates and mermaids aren’t my favourite thing in the world but today is not that day. This story was beautiful and romantic and so queer it was beautiful. Literally my only issue was that one of the main characters is black and is part of a slaver ship and that made me uncomfortable for a while. It did get challenged later on though but just be aware of that if that’s something that would make you uncomfortable to read about. The exploration of genderqueerness was so well done though. This book was beautiful.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Luupi "The Reading Queen"

    I saw that gorgeous cover... I read it's about a queer romance in a pirate adventure... now my life revolves around this book

  29. 5 out of 5

    aarya

    CW: (view spoiler)[slavers, murder, torture, colonialism (hide spoiler)] This became a little muddled in the middle (and OF COURSE there is a long romantic separation because fantasy likes to irritate romance readers), but overall it’s a promising debut. Nuanced depiction of colonialism, Black genderqueer MC/Japanese female MC (not actually Japanese, but the fictional empire is clearly inspired by Japan), mermaid folklore, witches, and more. I had major reservations/qualms about the Black MC work CW: (view spoiler)[slavers, murder, torture, colonialism (hide spoiler)] This became a little muddled in the middle (and OF COURSE there is a long romantic separation because fantasy likes to irritate romance readers), but overall it’s a promising debut. Nuanced depiction of colonialism, Black genderqueer MC/Japanese female MC (not actually Japanese, but the fictional empire is clearly inspired by Japan), mermaid folklore, witches, and more. I had major reservations/qualms about the Black MC working on a slave ship (basically: Flora/Florian and the brother Alfie started working on the ship as poor orphan kids in order to earn some money. The way the ship operates is by pretending to be a legit enterprise and transporting paying passengers, but then eventually imprisoning those passengers and selling them to slavers). The other MC (Lady Evelyn Hasegawa) is on her way to an arranged marriage via sea. She meets Flora and they fall in love even though Flora feels guilty as hell about Evelyn's impending fate. So... yeah. The optics are not great in the beginning. I know that for some readers, a Black person working on a slave ship (even if the MC hates it and has moral qualms) is unforgivable. That is extremely valid criticism. I'm not the right reader to assess the book and say "this is okay," so I won't. What I will say is this: the book's POV is that 1) slavery is bad (all the enthusiastic slavers are unambiguously bad people), 2) Flora and Alfie are never happy about their circumstances (they're forced into this life out of necessity and poverty. The empire screwed them over, and they have no other opportunities), and 3) the book ends with Flora and Alfie safely out of their former life (all the slavers are dead/punished/gone). At the same time, it feels disconcerting that the Black characters only rebelled/made an active stance to oppose slavery because of love. Like it took Florian falling in insta-love with a passenger to rebel. That doesn't seem great. I honestly don't know what else to feel, and would be interested in reading a dissenting opinion on this matter. The weakest parts are the POV scenes from secondary characters. There’s no rhyme or reason as to why they’re so non-linear; it feels jarring (and I like non-linear flashbacks in fantasy! I just don’t think they worked well here). Another complaint is that we don’t learn a lot about the mermaids. It’s certainly teased and they’re important to the story, but we never end up delving into the mermaid mythology. This is especially irritating considering the ending (which I will not spoil, but the details make the lack of mermaid info more frustrating). Most of the romantic development occurs in the first third. Second third is separation. Finally, they reunite, make heart-eyes, and save the day. I kinda wish there was more romantic development later on, but maybe that’s unfair considering this isn’t a romance novel. The ending took me by surprise. I was NOT expecting that, but it definitely is a HEA. The author then sets up a potential sequel with another character. THE MERMAID, THE WITCH, AND THE SEA isn’t perfectly polished but it was a thought-provoking read. If this is Tokuda-Hall’s debut, I can’t wait to see what’s next. Disclaimer: I received a free e-ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Cindee

    I really loved this book so much it hits all the right areas in the books I like it has Pirates,Mermaids and is LGBT I found nothing I disliked at all. I loved the characters so much especially Flora and Evelyn I found their romance to be one of the best I have ever read. I loved Flora for her ability to adapt to her situation and her want to finally get away from this pirate life she had hidden any things about herself for so long all it takes is meeting Evelyn for what she is hiding to start t I really loved this book so much it hits all the right areas in the books I like it has Pirates,Mermaids and is LGBT I found nothing I disliked at all. I loved the characters so much especially Flora and Evelyn I found their romance to be one of the best I have ever read. I loved Flora for her ability to adapt to her situation and her want to finally get away from this pirate life she had hidden any things about herself for so long all it takes is meeting Evelyn for what she is hiding to start to show. I really liked Evelyn for her sense of right and wrong her want to be more than what she was raised to finally be loved she finds that in Flora. I really loved the plot it moved along at a pretty good pace the story starts with telling you about the two main characters and how they are how they are now. It moves on to them meeting some things happening and then them being separated they find each other again. The story moves along pretty good I really loved the ending that was the absolute best part of the whole book. So overall I loved this book I would read more by this author when she writes more.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.