Disclosure. This post mentions a book that I won. All opinions are my own.
I’ve just got round to reading a book that I won as part of the online YALC 2020, (Young Adult Literature Convention). I had been hoping to attend for the first time, but lockdown put paid to that plan, so instead I followed some of the online events. My prize was a proof copy of The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall, her debut novel. To find out more about the author you may visit her website.
Here is the book blurb.
In a world divided by colonialism and threaded with magic, a desperate orphan turned pirate and a rebellious imperial lady find a connection on the high seas.
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, Flora is drawn to the Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, who is headed to an arranged marriage she dreads. 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. Neither expects to fall in love.
Soon the unlikely pair set in motion a wild escape that will free a captured mermaid (coveted for her blood) and involve the mysterious Pirate Supreme, an opportunistic witch, double agents, and the all-encompassing Sea herself.
Deftly entwining swashbuckling action and quiet magic, Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s inventive debut novel conjures a diverse cast of characters seeking mastery over their fates while searching for answers to big questions about identity, power, and love.
The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea is a mixture of fantasy, adventure and romance. Part one is set aboard the pirate ship Dove where the passengers on a long voyage from Crandon to the Floating Islands are initially unaware that the ship they are on is actually crewed by pirates, who plan to sell them as slaves.
Flora now known as Florian and brother Alfie are crew members, previously living from hand to mouth on the street. Meanwhile 15 year old Lady Evelyn Hasegawa is travelling with the Lady Ayer on the Dove to meet her husband-to-be in the Floating Islands. Flora is assigned by the captain and Rake to guard Evelyn from other crew members, especially Fawkes, as she will fetch a very good price. However Flora and Evelyn form a bond and fall in love. How will Flora save Evelyn from her awaiting fate?
This book which is divided into 3 parts, The Mermaid, The Witch and The Sea is full of twists and turns. With the fantasy element, I found it quite difficult to keep up with what is going on, but I found it a lovely touch that the Sea was viewed as a character. So yes we meet a mermaid who sadly has been captured by the pirates, since Mermaid’s Blood is a powerful expensive drink. She is getting weak. Can Flora or Evelyn come up with the answer to save her? And was Flora identifying as a female or a male?
We don’t meet the witch and her magic until much later. Meanwhile not everyone is whom they seem. I lost count of how themes, the author managed to weave into this tale.
The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea is an intriguing fantastical magical romantic adventure.