The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Audible Audiobook, Unabridged
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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.
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|Listening Length||9 hours and 34 minutes|
|Audible.ca Release Date||May 05 2020|
|Publisher||Candlewick on Brilliance Audio|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #55,439 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#446 in Action & Adventure Fiction for Teens
#1,358 in Science Fiction & Fantasy for Teens
#1,414 in Action & Adventure for Young Adults
Top reviews from Canada
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The story quickly sets its tone for being dark and complex and doesn’t relent at any point. Many of the characters are morally grey and complicated, especially Flora/Florian, who is torn between her identity, piracy, and her growing feelings for Evelyn. The two have an easy chemistry and I found the romance, while not without its challenges, fairly smooth. Evelyn adapted to her new life and gained her own strengths as the story progressed, her soft edges fitting the hard ones on Florian. Though of all the characters, Rake turned out to be my favourite. I enjoyed his complex history and his motives and would have loved more time with him.
The world building was pretty straight forward and there were some amazing side stories, especially regarding the Pirate Supreme. I think some of those stories could have been expanded on rather than left open-ended, but the book moved pretty quickly. Even the ending battle seemed to be more than a handful of scenes and quick confrontations.
I found the prose to be written beautifully and it suited the story very, very well. I think this author has a great voice and I would love to see more from her in the future.
A perfect book for anyone looking for a magical, tragic story about pirates, identity, gender-fluidity, and the sea.
Stories Inside Stories
I always love books that have lore or stories inside of stories. Maggie Tokuda-Hall gives us this in the form of little fables or myths; as well as the stories the characters tell of their past. This writing technique is perfect for fantasy world's as it gives insight into the history or foundation of the world. Done well it's a delight every time; and I definitely was thrilled each time I encountered one here.
A (perhaps) cliché piece of this story is that Florian, our lead girl, is hiding out on a pirate ship as a boy. This is not an uncommon trope if only because women have been legitimately doing this for thousands of years in our history. The reality is, for this fantasy world (and our own) that being a man is almost always safer and provides opportunity that being a woman does not. I like how Florian handles her identity of being a woman inside of being a man. Her own sexuality is at question throughout and it plays nicely with the gender question as well. I was unsure at many points what way Florian might lean and thus felt like I was discovering her as she discovered herself.
So there is some pretty heavy romance in this. It doesn't feel out of place, and it's handled beautifully; but it is there. So if you are hoping for an all out violent and brutal fantasy you will find that those pages are present as well; but that much of the over arcing story has a romantic tone to it. It felt genuine in The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea for me. I liked how the Sea itself had a few moments to speak to us and expressed itself in a very lyrical, romantic way.
This may be one of my favourite reads of 2020. It's been a tough year to get into books and things have really distracted me from reading this year. So to find a story like Tokuda-Hall has given us was a huge relief; and allowed me to really enjoy the experience. There are fights, torture, and injustices in this gorgeous novel; alongside rescues, love, and pity. The magic of this book is that it has a little bit of magic laced into it; while still feeling realistic, harsh, and unfair. Just like our own world so often is.
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
There was a lot of diversity of the gender identities of the characters in this story. Florian was born a girl but presented as a boy to work on the ship. Evelyn had same-sex relationships. There were also some non-binary characters. I liked how natural it was for the characters to recognize non-binary gender identities. At one point, a character made a casual comment about their pronouns. It was nice to see the characters acknowledge these diverse gender identities.
There were great twists throughout the story. I love the unpredictability of pirate stories. There were battles and magical creatures which added to the suspense. I was surprised at the ending. I would love to see a sequel.
This was a fun pirate story!
Thank you Candlewick Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Top reviews from other countries
Reading this book was a genuinely stressful experience. Every single chapter I read, something new and terrifying happened to Evelyn and Flora. I would have thought I’d get sick of constant plot twists, but they’re executed so artfully that I just couldn’t look away from it. Stopping at our buddy read chapters each day was torture. The balance between emotional moments and exciting plot moments was perfect, honestly, and the POV characters were really well split. Each jump had me eager to find out happened to them next, and I adored the interludes from the sea herself. A lot happens in this book, which makes me think that this will be even better on the reread, and I’ll definitely come back to it in a few months to give it another read and it’ll probably emotionally wreck me even more than it did the first time.
The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea is gloriously queer. I read a lot of queer books but I was still giddy at this one just because so many characters were non-cis. I was curious how a genderfluid main character would be portrayed without seeming gimmicky, but it felt very authentic to me and the moment where Flora realised that they could be Flora and Florian both was incredibly satisfying. However, I will point out that as a cis-woman, this isn’t my expertise and I hope that genderfluid and non-binary reviewers were also given the opportunity to read this book as I’d love to read their opinions on the rep. The sapphic romance was just perfection and I loved the way that Evelyn felt towards Flora/Florian. Their relationship felt so authentic and I’m so glad that we didn’t have to have any kind of gender/sexuality crisis from Evelyn as a response to Flora’s coming out.
The aesthetic of this book is just incredible and I’m obsessed with it. I would literally die for the Pirate Supreme without any hesitation. Xenobia is cool as all hell. The Sea herself might be my favourite character in the book. The characters in The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea are all heavily flawed and I cannot stress enough how that’s my favourite thing in books. Perfection is boring and overrated. Maggie Tokuda-Hall created a full cast of complex characters and I went through the emotional wringer falling in and out of love with them from page to page as their actions and motivations were exposed. I honestly cannot wait to see what she writes next because her character work is everything I’ve been looking for.