My new favourite read of 2020!!
If you are looking for a queer novel about scary pirates, a runaway princess, rebellion against the government, a powerful entity and beautiful mermaids; then this is the novel for you!
Goodreads Summary 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: don’t trust, don’t stick out, and don’t feel. But on this voyage, as the pirates prepare to sell their unsuspecting passengers into slavery, Flora is drawn to the Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, who is en route to a dreaded arranged marriage with her own casket in tow. 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. Soon the unlikely pair set in motion a wild escape that will free a captured mermaid (coveted for her blood, which causes men to have visions and lose memories) and involve the mysterious Pirate Supreme, an opportunistic witch, and the all-encompassing Sea itself.
It has taken me over two weeks since I finished this novel to actually write the review, and let me tell you, I still cannot find the words to write that will do this beautiful novel justice 🤦🏽♀️ but I’m going to give it my best shot right now!
★ Rating ★
I rated this book ★★★★★ (5/5 stars) because it made me feel something beautiful. Maggie’s writing was exceptional. The storyline was original, dazzling, soft and felt like I was reading an inclusive fairytale or folklore story.
Pirates are a topic I am so fascinated in; so when I saw this novel I had to pick it up, although I totally forgot the fact that pirates are very superstitious and clans-like, almost tribal in their nature.
In this novel we are thrown onto a ship with our main character Forian/ Flora who, alongside her brother has done everything possible to survive within this cruel world. We are introduced to her as Florian, but also as Flora and many times within the novel she refers to Florian as a shield, some form of protection against the misfortune of being a woman aboard a pirate’s ship.
The Mermaid, The Witch and The Sea is told in duel – and sometimes multiple – perspective, with each one flowing seamlessly within the other in a way that you barely even notice the shift but know exactly which character you are with because it just makes sense with the story.
Our second protagonist is Evelyn, a brave, smart and resourceful Imperial young woman boarding a ship to a new life and husband she doesn’t want. Her paths cross with Florian aboard the ship and the two become close, but not in a cheesy kissing-in-dark-corners kind of close. It’s more of an Imperial-young-woman-is-bored-and-wants-a-friend kind of bored which is far more amusing and endearing.
I am totally not doing this book justice and I really don’t want to spoil anything but my favourite thing about this novel (aside from the very spoilery plotline) is the characters, their development for some and for other’s, their willingness to stay the same.
This is a novel about loyalty and fear. It’s a survival novel and a love story, both romantic and familial. It’s a novel about ultimately realising no one can live alone but no one should have to carry the weight of another person. It’s about being a good person, not hurting those who don’t deserve it and ultimately receiving good karma and a chance to follow the path that one’s heart so desires.
For the love of the sea, just pick this damned book up! Read it, love it and please try to explain it better than I can because all I can see in my mind’s eye is the sea, a pirate ship and beautiful mermaids holding all the stories I can’t put into words.
See you back here on Monday’s (book reviews), Wednesday’s (storytime/ writing updates) and Saturday’s (other bookish content).