Thank you to Walker Books and Netgalley for the review copy in exchange for an honest review. This does not change my opinion in anyway.
Book: The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall
Release Date: September 3rd 2020
Tags: Fantasy / Young Adult / Pirates / Witches / Mermaid / LGBTQ+ / F/F Relationship / Saphic Romance / Genderfluid MC
Trigger/Content Warnings: Graphic Torture | Dry Drowning | Loss of Limb | Mentioned Sexual Assault and Rape | Slavery
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.
The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea was one book that I kept seeing mentioned earlier throughout the year. So when I got the chance to read the UK release for review I of course grabbed it. And I am a little mixed in my feelings.
For the most part I liked the book. It is a quick easy read. The pacing is a little off however. There are a few arcs throughout the book and they don’t seem to have even that much to do with each other. The first arc is about our characters meeting and a mermaid. The next arc is about one using their dormant witchcraft. And the other is about a rescue. But it doesn’t really come together at the end.
And I wanted so much more from this book. About the pirate council, the floating islands, the witchcraft and how that is still a part of community even if others want to throw it away. All of these things grabbed my attention but then didn’t end up delivering on it at all. In the end it needed more world building.
This book does have a dark vibe,one that I wasn’t completely expecting. But of course that fits with a true pirate book. Pirates aren’t romanticized in this book at all. There is gore, low morals, mentioned rape, hints at intentions of sexual assault, murder on the page etc. It very much appealed to me. It is why the idea of the pirate council appealed to me about following the rules of the sea.
All in all I am a little disappointed, but I would certainly read another book in this world or a complete other book by this author.