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The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea
Cover of The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea
The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea
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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...
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...
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  • 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.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    March 15, 2020
    As the Nipran Empire seeks total domination of the Sea, a genderfluid pirate and young Imperial noblewoman fall in love. Fifteen-year-old Evelyn Hasegawa faces a long sea voyage that will end in an unwanted arranged marriage, so she jumps at the chance to make a friend when she meets Florian, the sailor assigned to guard her. Florian harbors resentment toward privileged Imperials, but Evelyn's wit and sincerity slowly melt his cynicism, though not enough for him to reveal that Florian is also Flora and that their ship, the Dove, is actually a slaver disguised as a passenger ship. Flora is determined to earn enough money to start a new life with her brother, and it is this dream that has driven her to carry out the Dove's cruel business up until this point. But as her relationship with Evelyn deepens, Flora's resolve starts to crumble. Careful prose juxtaposes gentleness and brutality, contrasting the tender emotions between Flora/Florian and Evelyn and the violence of a pirate's life. Set against the backdrop of colonial expansion, this nautical fantasy goes beyond mere swashbuckling to examine the impacts of imperialism and misogyny on a diverse cast of varying ethnicities, sexualities, and gender identities. Witches, mermaids, and secret operatives add layers of magic and intrigue to the queer romance at the heart of this book. Flora is black and uses he/she/they pronouns; Evelyn's homeland is a fantasy equivalent of Japan. Absolutely enthralling. (map) (Fantasy. 13-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    April 1, 2020

    Gr 9 Up-Not just mermaids, a witch, and the sea, Tokuda-Hall also covers pirates, double agents, and the lure of forgetting. Evelyn, Lady Hasegawa, doesn't look forward to marriage, although the six-month sea journey to her betrothed offers her a delicious chance to be on her own. In alternating chapters, orphaned Flora, "the smallest sailor," relates why she's called Florian aboard the ship, the cruelties that Florian and the crew have perpetrated, and those they have had to endure. Florian and Evelyn strike up a friendship, and when the voyage turns especially nasty, make their escape, taking with them a mermaid who had been captured by the crew. Friendship turns to romance, and then to bitter separation, as Flora struggles with guilt over her past, Evelyn appears headed for a wedding after all, and the crew of the Dove faces their full share of retribution. This well-told tale has violence throughout: a slashed throat, a chopped finger, flogging, and torture. There are also allusions to sexual violence; for example, in what happens to mermaids who are captured. Few characters are what they seem, whether a pious Imperial noblewoman or a hardhearted, seafaring henchman. VERDICT When considering for purchase, note that descriptions of whippings and torture may distress some readers; this is a dark and creative story, laced with romance, and not for the faint of heart.-Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX

    Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    April 13, 2020
    Set in a fantastical world devastated by imperialism, Tokuda-Hall’s YA debut follows a diverse array of characters as they journey across a conscious and omnipotent sea. After her family falls on hard times, 15-year-old Imperial noble Evelyn Hasegawa is shipped off to a forced marriage in the colonized Floating Islands. Aboard passenger ship the Dove, she is assigned a guard, Florian, who has worked as a crew member for the past few years, hoping to afford a new start with his brother. As Evelyn takes to Florian, teaching him to read, he struggles to keep two secrets: gender-fluid Florian is also known as Flora, and the Dove is actually a slaver that will soon turn on its passengers, imprisoning and selling Evelyn and the other Imperials. When the crew captures a mermaid to be vended for her blood, Florian vows to free both the creature and Evelyn, but their attempt to escape exposes them to other dangers, truths, and betrayals neither had imagined. Tokuda-Hall aptly explores themes of gender identity and misogyny while illustrating colonialism’s horrors, in which even children must steal from and harm each other to survive. Interstitials by the sea lend a global viewpoint that ripples through the story without disrupting the narrative. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary.

  • Booklist

    April 15, 2020
    Grades 9-12 The Imperial army controls most of the known world, and all that remains free is the sea. In order to survive the cruel life aboard the Dove, a pirate ship that sells unwitting passengers into slavery, Flora disguises herself as male Florian. When Imperial-born Lady Evelyn Hasegawa boards the Dove on her way to an arranged marriage, Flora can't deny the forbidden bond that blossoms between them. A daring escape sets the two on a wild path to freedom, with the help of a mermaid, a witch, and the sea itself. In her debut, Tokuda-Hall minces no words, telling a brutal tale of pirate life and the impacts of colonialism. Moderate pacing and short stories peppered throughout balance out the more graphic scenes of violence and torture, which may be more appropriate for older readers. Though the romance develops quickly, readers will easily warm up to the tenacious protagonists as they grapple with identity, discover themselves, and stop at nothing short of freedom.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2020, American Library Association.)

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