The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall, publishing date 5 May, 2020.
YA standalone about pirates, mermaids, the Sea as an entity, witches, imperialism, slavery, misogyny, arranged marriage, torture, …
A story about love between two women from very different sides of the tracks, the love of a mother for her children, the love of two siblings, the love between a found family, the love of profit. But it fell very flat.
There is Evelyn, a high born woman sailing towards her arranged marriage. She’s leaving behind her servant/lover/best friend without a care about the girl’s future. There is no love between her and her parents, she feels like a pawn in their game.
There is Flora/Florian, a black orphan, who, together with her brother, became a member of the crew of the Dove out of desperation. She turns a blind eye on the captain’s plans to sell the passengers into slavery once they are far enough from their port of departure.
The world-building is a Japan-inspired imperialistic world. There is lots of commentary about colonialism and misogyny.
Witchcraft is introduced in the second part of the book. It was intriguing, but there are only a few instances where magic is used.
The Sea as a mother caring for her children and plotting revenge on the men who kill her offspring is as interesting as the witchcraft element. It’s elaborated on similarly, too.
The romance between Evelyn and Florian is a set thing, soulmates, match made in heaven, why elaborate and show how they fall for each other? I didn’t buy the insta-love. Further, their love for each other is supposed to be what the whole plot rotates about, but we hardly see the two of them have meaningful dialogue.
The middle of the book was rather boring, compared to the interesting and well-paced first part and the rushed ending. Not all issues were resolved.
I wanted to like this book very much. It had a lot of potential. The execution though disappointed me.
2.5/5 Goodreads stars (that’s 3 stars then)