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The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  3,070 ratings  ·  801 reviews
A desperate orphan turned pirate and a rebellious imperial daughter find a connection on the high seas in a world divided by colonialism and threaded with magic.

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:
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published May 5th 2020 by Candlewick Press
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Average rating 3.81  · 
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 ·  3,070 ratings  ·  801 reviews

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Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)
There may come a day when "it's about pirates and it's also queer" doesn't immediately make me click want to read, but it is not this day ...more
may ➹
— find this review and others on my blog!

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea follows a pirate named Flora/Florian and an aristocratic lady named Evelyn. Their paths intertwine on the Dove, a pirate ship, and when they fall in love, they must escape, deal with witches, the Sea, spies, mermaids, and more.

It is with a heavy heart that I must admit that the face in the sea on the cover—which I will never stop pointing out, by the way—is exactly what I look like right now: sad, vaguely whiny-looking,
Lex Kent
2.50 Stars. I’m really disappointed to say that this book did not work for me. I was really excited to get the ARC copy of this. Pirates, witches, mermaids and a sapphic romance; what could be better? Well it turns out a lot since I almost DNF’d this book. If this was not an ARC I would have permanently put it down. I hate to say this but this just did not click with me much at all.

One of my biggest issues was the characters. Almost everyone in this book is a jerk or worse. Even the mains thems
Becca & The Books
Sep 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
A beautiful story about love & identity.

The atmosphere and writing in this book was on point, making it read almost like a fairytale, which is simutaneously my favourite and least favourite aspect of the book. While it's beautiful prose and timeless feel made me really love how wonderfully the book was composed, at the same time I felt a distance to the characters, which, along with a touch of instalove, is the only thing I can really fault this on.

I really loved the way gender identity was disc
Charlie Jane Anders
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea will take you on the journey of a lifetime. Maggie Tokuda-Hall has created characters that I've never seen before, and then put them into an adventure that feels more real than real life, and twice as unpredictable. I wanted to live in the world of this book forever, and I can't stop obsessing about the rich tapestry of pirates, mermaids, witches and conniving nobles who inhabit it. The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea might just remind you why you fell in love w ...more
C.G. Drews
Aug 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was just so brilliant and brutal, it will absolutely take you by the throat and not let go. I was just NOT prepared for this and I'm so grateful this book exists to grace our human eyes. It's phenomenal. Definitely darker than YA usually dares to go, and yet so beautifully written. That contrast? I live for that kind of contrast.

the world building and the characters were incredible
Usually I find YA fantasy does one or the other?! And we got both here? T_T My whole heart is aching. While I d
Eliza ☽
Jul 15, 2019 marked it as to-read
*sniffs the air* Do I smell a sapphic pirate romance?
Mar 04, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: young adult romance fans
Thank you to NetGalley and Candlewick Press for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

DNF ~30%.

For a long time I’ve assumed the reason I dislike most fictional romances is that I’m a bitter lesbian sick of having heterosexuality shoved in my face everywhere I turn. That may still be the case, however, The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea proves that I can dislike fictional lesbian romance just as much as I dislike fictional straight romance.

Because that was my number one probl
Ellie (faerieontheshelf)
I heard 'queer' and 'pirates', which is all I need to be hooked


thank you to the publisher for gifting me a proof copy in exchange for a honest review <3
I was sent this book as an advance copy by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own.

2.5 stars

To understand the different stages of emotions I'm going through while thinking about how to review this book, you have to keep in mind the kombucha girl TikTok, except make it ten times milder because I wish this book inspired the level of emotional investment as kombucha girl went through.

This weird intro to say: I have....some? good things to say about this,
Taylor Knight
Jan 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is SO GOOD. I wasn't expecting it to be amazing as it is and I'm blown away.
The diversity, the representation, the plot, the characters, everything about this book is 10/10.
I did assume from the cover that this was middle grade, which it is definitely not. This book isn't slow at all and the action starts right away, which I loved. It's fast paced without being rushed and the plot is so engaging, I would being reading for hours and never get bored.
I loved the characters so much. I e
My official blurb for this book is “An utterly romantic and breathless adventure that wouldn’t let me sleep until I’d devoured every last word. It’s a journey of love, magic, and self-discovery unlike any I’ve ever read.”

My unofficial blurb is that no word of my official blurb is remotely an exaggeration - it's one of the most compelling books I've read in ages, and I absolutely could not put it down. I did not expect such an incredible gender self-examination in such a wild adventure, or for t
Lea (drumsofautumn)
[update feb 14th i also just found out this is a f/nb romance 🥺]

“magic and mayhem set aboard a pirate ship” y’all know this was written for me, don't even pretend otherwise
Mel (Epic Reading)
Dec 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A wonderfully magical book set in a cruel empire, across a sea of mermaids (who play a minor role and are not the mermaids most think of), and where anything might hold a little magic. I adored our characters, yes even the cruel ones. Given I am terrified of water, especially the ocean, its surprising that the love affair this book has with the sea felt natural and right to me. Now that’s proof of good writing!

Stories Inside Stories
I always love books that have lore or stories inside of stories.
The Captain
May 06, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandon-ship
Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this young adult fantasy eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

Upon seeing the beautiful cover and reading the synopsis, I thought this novel would float me boat.  No such luck.  I read 40% before abandoning ship.  The only reason I read that long is that I wanted to know about the mermaids.

I was prepared to root for a sapphic romance between the orphan turned bad pirate and the spoiled naive rich girl.  But bas
Whoa, did TMtW&tS ever help me escape the world we’re in right now. I loved it so much and I can’t stop thinking about it. I’ve already told eleven friends in the two days since finishing it that they must read this book. And when my eight-year-old daughter asked me what I was doing while I was writing this review, I said “I’m writing about a book that I can’t wait for you to be old enough to read.” I am seriously stoked for her and her little sister to read about these badasses some day.

As much
Stay Fetters
May 21, 2020 rated it liked it
"There's freedom in stories, you know. We read them and we become something else. We imagine different lives, and while we turn the pages, we get to live them. To escape the lot we're given."

Mermaids and Witches are two things that I love. They are mysterious, dark, and full of magic. It's something that I need to bring forth into my life. There's just something about them that grabs my attention and seeks something deep inside of me. So when I read the title and saw the cover, I knew that this
Jun 24, 2020 rated it liked it
[3-3.5 Stars]
I was initially drawn to the cover art because woah! Victo Ngai's artwork is stunning. I then read the blurb and knew I wanted to see what this book had in store.

We follow Flora/Florian an orphan-turned-pirate who works on the Dove (the ship) alongside her/his brother. They pretend to be a passenger vessel and then enslave all of the passengers. We also follow Evelyn, a lady that doesn't behave as an aristocrat ought to. They meet when Evelyn is arranged to marry a far-off nobleman,
What a fun adventure!

Probably should've waited to dive into these LBGTQ+ romance books since June is right around the corner BUT I just couldn't. I wanted to dive into this because so many freaking people were reading it. I had series FOMO guys.

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea was a pretty interesting book. Anything with pirates will make me automatically want to dive into it. The characters throughout this book were written pretty well. Even if they were all pretty self-centered and complete
Wren (fablesandwren)
Aug 20, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 02-stars, not-shelved
I don’t have much to say besides it had a lot of potential I feel it didn’t live up to
laurel [the suspected bibliophile]
DNF at 23%

I wanted to like this a lot more than I did, but pirate books, much less YA pirate books, are a very hard sell for me. Samesies with any books that mention corsets more than twice in the first ten pages. With #ownvoices rep, sapphic relationships, anti-colonialism and more, however, this tempted me to try again with the YA pirate drama (did not know about the abundance of corsets).

It wasn't for me, but it might be the book for someone else!

I received this ARC from NetGalley for an hone
May 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: lgbtq-read, 2020-arcs
With a title like this, you would think I wouldn't get bored, right? I mean, there should be a lot to love...

1. Mermaids

2. Pirates

3. Witchcraft

4. And an LGBT romance + POC rep


Well... Unfortunately, I didn't love this book. The biggest problem I had was that I never really got invested in the story or characters. I mean I did a little, just not enough in the long run. I knew if they died, it wouldn't have bothered me all that much. And when I don't care, I don't enjoy reading.

There wasn't a lot
Jun 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
When an orphan girl takes on a male persona and boards a pirate ship, adventure, danger and even romance are a given. Throw in a witch, a mermaid and pirate antics and you have an entertaining and fun read.

Note: the main characters in this book are queer, so if you are one of those people that does not enjoy queer romance stories or LGBTQ fiction, give this one a pass.

I enjoyed this story. It was a fun, entertaining read. I love anything with pirates, so this was an easy plot to enjoy. At time
Whispering Stories
Sep 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Book reviewed on

Flora and her brother Alfie are members of a pirate crew aboard the ‘Dove’. To keep her safe and earn the respect of her fellow crewmen Flora takes on the identity of a male and is known as Florian.

The pirate ship is hidden as a passenger vessel taking those with money to their new homes across the sea. One such passenger is Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, who is being sent by her unsympathetic parents to be married off to a man she has never met before.

Florian is
Feb 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
I brought The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea for my beach trip with Kate, and this definitely made for a perfect beach read!

Full review to follow, but here are my initial thoughts:

🌊 Genderfluid Black pirate and queer Japanese noblewoman fall in love aND IT IS GLORIOUS!
🌊 Extremely fascinating mermaid lore!
🌊 Witches and ~*magic*~ in storytelling
🌊 Thoughtful critique about imperialism and colonialism
🌊 Nuanced exploration of class differences
🌊 Themes of self-discovery, sacrifice, ambition, and (fou
charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow)
On my blog.

Rep: Japanese-coded wlw mc, Black genderfluid mc, nonbinary side character, Japanese-coded side characters, Black side character

CWs: mentions of rape, on-page torture, implied torture of side character, misogyny, alcohol abuse, on-page mutilation

Galley provided by publisher

Sometimes you come across a book that just makes you think, maybe I shouldn’t be reading this genre anymore. Well that book, for me, is The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea (the genre being YA fantasy, of course).
Jun 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020

I've said it before and I'll say it again: this doesn't feel like a final draft to me. It has some pretty cool aspects, but it's too messy and all over the place to really work for me
*Was sent an eARC from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

1/5 stars

Wow...and not in a good way.

To say I was so disappointed is an understatement. This makes me so sad because it had SO MUCH POTENTIAL! We have a a Japanese sapphic main character and a Black genderfluid main character alongside the elements of colonialism and elements such as mermaid, witch, and piracy.

One overarching con I had was the lack of development with everything; the characters, the romance
Jul 09, 2020 marked it as definitive-tbr  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-releases
July 10, 2020: After seeing almost everyone I love in this reader community love this book, I had to request it even though it's been two months since it last released. Received a digital copy via Netgalley. ...more
Feb 28, 2021 rated it liked it
Recommended to Elizabeth☮ by:
This is a case of not judging a book by its cover. In this case, I thought the story would be magical and interesting, but it didn't quite work out. This is a promising premise - a brother and sister, orphans, board the Dove in order to have shelter from life on the street. But they are not ready for the Nameless Captain and his cruel ship of men. These are pirates that pillage and plunder and kidnap and sell their rich passengers to the highest bidder.

I like what the author is creating for us
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Queer Be Dragons: the mermaid, the witch, and the sea 2 9 May 01, 2021 05:14AM  

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Maggie Tokuda-Hall is the author of Also an Octopus, The Mermaid the Witch and the Sea, and Squad.

You can read her writing for adults in her column for Catapult Magazine (Fear and Loathing in Utero), and her fiction on The Rumpus, Joyland Magazine, and Columbia Journal for Literature and the Arts.

She lives in Oakland, California with her husband, son, and objectively perfect dog.

Articles featuring this book

  Every December, as we wrap up our annual Goodreads Reading Challenge, we ask our book-loving colleagues a simple yet incredibly tough...
180 likes · 322 comments
“There’s freedom in stories, you know. We read them and we become something else. We imagine different lives, and while we turn the pages, we get to live them. To escape the lot we’re given.” 8 likes
“Yes, she was an orphan, a sister, a pirate, a girl, and also a boy. But more importantly, she was a person who sought power to protect those she loved. Including herself. Or himself. Both were equally true to her. Neither told the whole story.” 4 likes
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