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Review: The Mermaid, The Witch, and The Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

Hey all, Dani here.

How is everyone doing today? I’ll be honest: I am so ready for the weekend already. We need this cabin getaway so we can relax and refresh and just get away from the world for a few days. Okay, yes, we’ll still have internet access, so we won’t be fully away, but it will just be nice to get away from the house and go somewhere with very few people.

Anyway, today I’m back with another review for GLBT Book Month. It’s funny because I made myself a stack of books to read with queer rep in them, and then I made a second stack with Black authors, and it seems like every time I take a book off it to read, I end up adding two more books to the stack that I forgot about on my shelves. At this rate I’m not going to be able to read and review all of these in June. I’m actually totally fine with that, because I am enjoying reading these great books.

All right, let’s jump into the review.


Book Details

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 368

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Publication Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 1536204315 (ISBN13: 9781536204315)


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.

My Thoughts

Rating: 3.5 stars

I wanted to like this book far more than I actually did. Most of my issue, I believe, is with the writing style. It felt like I was being told most things, rather than being shown them. Though, I will admit that the writing did have a nice flowery flow to it.

But I made it halfway into the book and it felt like not much of anything had happened, and I didn’t really care about the characters that much. I hadn’t formed any sort of emotional connection with them, so I didn’t care about this bond forming between Flora/Florian and Evelyn.

I thought I would get pulled in by Evelyn teaching Florian to read, because normally that’s a trope I enjoy…you know, characters spending time together, close together, as one teaches the other something. But nope. It just felt like a shallow interaction to me, which was rather sad.

It did get better when the escape/freeing the mermaid happened, and the rest of the book was a little bit better. But overall I just couldn’t get past my initial feelings of not being invested in the characters or the story. There were so many elements to the story and the characters and their backgrounds and relationships that could have been wonderfully compelling and complex, but it all just fell short for me, sadly.

I do really like the cover though. It does have a magical feel to it. But this book just wasn’t for me. If it sounds interesting to you, don’t let my words keep you from picking up a copy. I understand that this book just wasn’t meant to be my book, and that’s fine. I’m happy to pass my copy on so that perhaps it can be that book for someone else.

Where to Get a Copy

You can pick up your own copy of this book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or from your local indie bookstore through IndieBound.

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