Fantasy Historical Young Adult

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

A thrilling open seas adventure that includes pirates and, you guessed it, mermaids!

One of my top ten reads of 2020.

A group of rich Imperials (all hail the Nipran Empire) have been duped into traveling on a pirate ship (the Dove) and soon find themselves as hostages (in mortal peril and on their way to be sold as slaves). Oh, how the tables have turned for the Imperials who are so used to doing the plundering for their own gain, although they would never dare call it that. Imperials bring civilization to the uncivilized world, do they not? Har har har. *insert sarcastic pirate laugh*

Imperial Evelyn Hasegawa is aboard the Dove, headed towards the doom of an arranged marriage. Problems one and two: the man is much older (Evelyn is only 15), and she’s never met the man. Problem three: Evelyn’s not into men (part of the reason her parents wanted to be rid of her). Being taken by ruthless pirates is only the latest in a line of bad luck, and Evelyn’s not about to go down without a fight. Or without striking up a friendship with (gender fluid) pirate Florian (also Flora).

Flora is from one of the lands the Imperials conquered and dead set (literally) on scrounging up the money to start a new life with their brother (who’s also a pirate on the Dove; albeit, a less successful one). Florian/Flora will do anything to survive, including taking lives, and no softhearted (mermaid-loving) Imperial (Evelyn) is going to get in the way of that. But obviously, it’s more complicated than that; and the lines between Imperial enemies and cruel pirates soon blur.

Imperialism and its effects are at the forefront of this tale of pirates, mermaids, and colonial expansion, and their portrayal feels raw and real, and deeply honest.


Book: The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea
Published: Candlewick Press
Pages: 368
Publication Date: May 5th, 2020
Age Range: 13 – 18
Stars: 5/5

Candlewick Press kindly sent me a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion, rating, or the content of my review.

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