Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: Young Adult LGBT+ Fantasy
Year Release: May 2020
Source: NetGalley eARC
|Read an ARC granted through NetGalley
A noble escaping an arranged marriage, a rogue pirate finding family, an opportunistic witch, and the Sea itself being a main character, this stand-alone fantasy has all the trappings of a sea-faring adventure.
I enjoyed the sweet romance and devotion between Flora/Florian and Evelyn. Though they had come from opposite sides of the class spectrum, they had good chemistry and a common tenacity which made them perfect for each other. Personally, I would have enjoyed a bit more of a slow burn, but the pacing fit the plot so well. In addition, it was such a relief that Flora/Florian’s gender went beyond presentation and clothing. By the end of the book, her/his gender identity is not stated, and that’s okay. That implication of further exploration during the happily-ever-after provides a different perspective.
The magic system also felt unique, with telling stories and truths being the vehicle for spell-casting. Flora spends much time with Xenobia, the witch, in which stories are exchanged. Some are folklore, others are true. They all add to the richness of the world Tokuda-Hall built, which already felt quite lived in, between the Imperials and their colonies, the pirates and their factions.
The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea is a must-read for fans of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise who wants more commentary on colonialism and imperialism, magic, and a whole lot of queer norm.