The Mermaid the Witch and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

The Mermaid the Witch and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda Hall was a lyrical, swashbuckling and adventurous story of pirates, first love, magic and empathy. With an absolutely beautiful romance between a high-ranking Imperial lady and a genderfluid pirate at its core, The Mermaid the Witch and the Sea was woven with gorgeous lore and stories, exciting adventure and action and a prevailing theme of making your own destiny in a world that never puts the odds in your favour.
My favourite thing about this book was the lore and the stories that were woven in. The short sections from the perspective of the Sea were so vivid and lyrically written that they quickly became a highlight for me. The idea of the Sea as a being and the lore of the mermaids and witches was so unique, interesting and capturing, and I would love to read a book in this same world with even more focus on these aspects.

Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s writing is mesmerising, lyrical and gorgeous, bringing her unique and wonderful world to life, so full of personality and spirit. It became more emotive as the book went on, and I loved it more and more as I read.

I really loved both Evelyn and Flora. Evelyn was a little annoying at first, but I soon came to love her. Being of Imperialist birth, it was interesting to see her grapple with the destruction her people had caused and see her break away from that and swear to do better herself. She was a little ignorant but tried to educate herself and understand her privilege. There was also a small plot twist nearer the end that left her reeling, and she was so incredibly brave in overcoming it. As with Evelyn, I didn’t adore Flora at first but as I got to know them better I loved them more. Their story with coming to terms with their gender so was so powerful and gorgeous. They were brave and fierce, willing to do whatever it took to protect their loved ones.

The romance felt a little insta-love at first, and I think it could have done with a couple of extra scenes from the beginning of the book more fleshed out so we could see more of the characters, but despite this, as soon as the romance was further established I shipped it enough that I really didn’t mind. I liked the low-key pining at the beginning of their romance and would have loved to see more of a mutual pining trope rather than an insta-love one but by the end of the book, it was so clear how much these two loved each other and it was so gorgeous and emotional that I mostly forget about my earlier grievances. They supported each other completely, trusted and loved each other and were willing to sacrifice everything for each other.

The first 100 or so pages of this bookwere quite slow, and I wasn’t really feeling invested in the plot or characters. But then all of a sudden I was swept away (literally lol) and I was so invested that I could barely remember why I wasn’t in the first place.

I fell in love with The Mermaid the Witch and the Sea book more and more as I read so that by the end I was absolutely besotted with this stunning story and its characters and world. It is a gorgeous, diverse story with queer people of colour fiercely standing at its centre. Full of gorgeous, quiet magic and swashbuckling, exciting action, The Mermaid the Witch and the Sea is enchanting and unputdownable.

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