December 2, 2023

Novel Lives

Book Publicity, Reviews, Author Interviews, and Discussion Posts by Susan Crosby

In Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s The Mermaid The Witch And The Sea, I Thought I knew What To Expect. Bless How Wrong I Was.

It is dark. It is twisty. And I bet you weren't expecting any of it. I know I wasn't... The Mermaid, The Witch And The Sea- Maggie Tokuda-Hall - 5/5

The Mermaid, The Witch And The Sea By Maggie Tokuda-Hall

Shout out to Leelynn @SometimesLeelynnReads who let me talk through this before writing it & SHOUT OUT Because Leelynn has a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT (CHECK IT OUT)

I read the summary on the back before asking Candlewick for an ARC. It wasn’t like I went in blind or anything. I just… I don’t know. Maybe, I expected something, younger? I certainly didn’t expect The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea’s plot to encompass political intrigue, an imperial daughter (Evelyn) sent to an arranged marriage with all her positions packed in a casket?!! Wait for it now- on a supposed transportation ship (The Dove) that is actually a slaver ship, led by the Pirate Nameless Captain? Right off the bat. The first couple of chapters and already…

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But Wait! There’s More!

Along for the trip is her warrior trained, Lady Ayer, sent to keep Evelyn safe on the journey to her betrothed, orphans- Florian/Flora and Alfie, and First Mate Rake. Oh! Let’s not forget the sea (yes, I expected the sea- don’t be daft)- but not as an actual character, pirates as — vampires (well to mermaids). Hey, if some living mermaid blood can get you drunk, why not! Not to mention one witch who can weave some hella stories. Yes, again, I expected a witch but man this witch is some kinda … well spoilers so I can’t.

But let’s just say that all these characters. AND I MEAN ALL OF THESE CHARACTERS. They got tea.


Baby Yoda

… Look some of these characters? Their tea has tea. Even ones that don’t have point of view chapters- which I don’t even want to talk about because of later in the book… so I won’t. Hell, the sea even has tea to spill. And if the mermaids don’t get saved? All the blood will be spilled  drank because pirates be thirsty and then they get trippy. And that pisses everyone off. So, you have many plots going on, too. And they are all either dark, twisted, political or piping, burning hot with roller-coaster type drop reveals. Sometimes those three qualities cross paths, even. The heartbreak? It is real. There are so many heart ripping decisions and devastating outcomes?

Darryl Dixon


I liked Evelyn for her intent and what she stood for. She was unashamed of what she wanted and who she loved. And while I nor many, I imagine, will be shocked by her family’s sending her off to marry far away because they just don’t like her (it is seen often in these tales), along the way she finds what is worth living, and fighting for. Evelyn finds much more than that, as well. When she does, rather than blowing it off for duty or for happenstance of other unforeseen circumstances, she takes charge and goes for what she wants. You have to admire these things. Despite all of this, she wasn’t the most interesting character in the book to me.

Flora/Florian is wonderful. Such

a story of self-discovery, although I don’t know if it is discovery. It was there all the time but maybe more of complete acceptance and a melding of two lives that were forced into existence, becoming one. An understanding that no one has to be just one thing, but can be many, many things.

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.

The Mermaid Witch and The Sea
Thank you to Candlewick for an ARC in exchange for an honest review

This was so striking and moving, in expression that it was one of those times you have to just put a book down and walk away so that the words can marinate in your mind and soul. It was a powerful rocket of words. And that is what enabled this character to be a three-dimensional, force of nature, that shot off the page.

The Sea was <sigh> beautiful. The interludes were perfectly placed. They were wrought with emotional and breathtaking. The sea was not anything of what I thought it to be in this story. I love stories where authors dare to bring settings to life as a character. Tokuda-Hall executed this with the sea with brilliance.

Hold-Up Now

These are far from all the characters, let alone all the ones I could talk about. They are the ones I wanted to most to speak about. Plus a few I really would love to spill tea on? I just can’t. It would ruin some things. And other characters are great side characters!

Truly I could say much more- but spoilers. That is also VERY, VERY true of the plot. Not only does what I speak of above scratch the surface but speaking of the plot, I could only say so much. Seriously the tea’s tea has tea to spill. Ok, I’m not sure what’s up with me and the tea this review… sorry.

Whatever you think you think you know about The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea? You don’t. Dive in, the water is warm, dark and full of terrors… oh and I wouldn’t trust pitching your loyalty tent much of anywhere, really.

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