ARC Book Review: The Mermaid, The Witch, and The Sea
This story ended up being different to what I was expecting. There were certainly elements I enjoyed, and then there were elements that fell flat.
The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea, by Maggie Tokuda-Hall, follows two characters, Evelyn and Flora/Florian. Evelyn is an Imperial, which is essentially the wealthy ruling class of their region, who is sent to be with a man her parents picked for her to marry, thus quite literally shipping her off like cargo. Flora is orphaned with her brother Alfie, and in order to get a job on the sea and fit aboard a pirate ship named Dove, she must dress as a boy (Florian).
The story had an interesting premise, and the beginning pulled be in rather quickly with the interludes. The interludes were so lyrical and so beautifully written that it kind of set me up for that expectation of how the story was going to go, or at least how it was going to be written. I was expecting more magic and more interaction with the title of the book coming into play (yes, there was a mermaid, a witch, and the sea, but it felt very played down when it came to the actual story). In truth, it felt quite the opposite. The writing for the story of Evelyn and Flora/Florian wasn't terrible, but once they met everything felt very rushed, especially with their romance. From that point on, I drifted in and out of interest.
What I enjoyed about the book was the various relationships between characters. You have Flora/Florian trying to keep a struggling relationship alive with her brother as he suffers from trauma. You have the relationship between Flora/Florian and her mentor, Rake, who is a father figure to her. And there is a brief relationship at the beginning with Evelyn and her handmaid, Keiko, which was raw and emotional enough to make me feel for Keiko, despite the shortness of her part in the story. I truly feel all the different characters and the different relationships that develop throughout the book were wonderfully expressed.
Also, there really should be a trigger warning since there are some rather dark and gruesome scenes that were kind of blindsiding. There is a... I don't know what you would exactly call it, but there is a torture/punishment scene and mention of sexual assault, so just be aware before you delve into the book.
I received an early copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
The Mermaid, The Witch, and The Sea releases May 5th, 2020!
Where to purchase:
Check with your local Indie Book Stores!