THE MERMAID, THE WITCH AND THE SEA, by Maggie Tokuda-Hall, 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. 

Out May 2020

368 Pages


I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

Okay… whaaaaat?

When I read the premise of this book, man oh man was I excited. It was a fantasy… it had a queer relationship in it… main characters were female… pirates, mermaids, a witch, and the sea…

So what the heck happened? It was all over the place with irrelevant characters taking up space for no apparent reason, the main characters seemed angry all the time at each other–everyone! Arrrg was that the pirate side of it? Pirates are angry, so arrrrg??? Whew!

Beginning, middle and end–how each story is laid out. Why write a story if the middle is nothing but filler nonsense with no direct association to the other parts of the story? Why, why, why have a romance that you can’t write about or at least appear to be a difficult part of the story for the author to write. It was forced, flash-spontaneous, abrupt, cold, distant, under-developed… I could go on. This re-enforces why I had bad romance novels… ick! I know no one, I mean no one who falls in love at the speed of light… no culture that I know of has ever done this… so, what makes an author think a queer relationship would be different.

These characters… good Lord! So disjointed and ineffective as Protagonists. I didn’t connect or even like them a little bit. The had no real developmental goals, no foundations or reason for being in print. They were one dimensional to me–angry! Dialogue was at times cheesy… where was the world-building, real world-building, a magic system? Anything fantastical? Oh wait, there was a mermaid and a witch… what did they do for the story? Really?

Needless to say, I gave this book:

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