ARC Review: THE MERMAID, THE WITCH, AND THE SEA by Maggie Tokuda-Hall (2020)

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.

May 2020 TBR

Shelter-in-place continues through May in Illinois. Halfway through this month, I’m going to slowly start making a plan regarding employment and read these fine reads in the mean time. Things with a * are from last month’s TBR.

Hard Copies

  • The Art of Fiction by John Gardner
  • Bent Heavens by Daniel Kraus*
  • The Never-Tilting World by Rin Chupeco*
  • Out of Body by Jeffrey Ford (ARC)
  • Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke (ARC)*

Kindle

  • The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant (ARC)
  • Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender (ARC)
  • Flotsam (Peridot Shift #1) by R.J. Theodore*
  • The Glass Magician by Caroline Stevermer (ARC)*
  • Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (ARC)*
  • The Fiery Crown by Jeffe Kennedy (ARC)
  • The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall (ARC)
  • The Unconquered City by K.A. Doore (ARC)
  • Steering the Craft: A Twenty-First-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story by Ursula K. Le Guin*

Audiobooks

  • Blood Countess by Lana Popovic
  • The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White
  • Highfire by Eoin Colfer
  • Lady Hotspur by Tessa Gratton
  • Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
  • Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  • We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

My own novel is still with alpha readers, so I’m returning the favor and also doing some beta reading this month.