“The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea” by Maggie Tokuda-Hall (Candlewick).
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.
The pirate Florian, born Flora, has always done whatever it takes to survive — including sailing under false flag on the Dove as a marauder, thief, and worse. Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, a high-born imperial daughter, is on board as well — accompanied by her own casket. But Evelyn’s one-way voyage to an arranged marriage in the Floating Islands is interrupted when the captain and crew show their true colors and enslave their wealthy passengers.
Both Florian and Evelyn have lived their lives by the rules, and whims, of others. But when they fall in love, they decide to take fate into their own hands — no matter the cost.
Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s sweeping fantasy debut, full of stolen memories, illicit mermaid’s blood, double agents, and haunting mythical creatures conjures an extraordinary cast of characters and the unforgettable story of a couple striving to stay together in the face of myriad forces wishing to control their identities and destinies.
Tokuda-Hall has an MFA in creative writing from University of San Francisco and a strong cake-decorating game. She is the author of the 2017 Parent’s Choice Gold Medal-winning picture book “Also an Octopus,” illustrated by Benji Davies.
“‘The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea’ will take you on the journey of a lifetime. Maggie Tokuda-Hall has created characters I’ve never seen before, then put them in 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 of why you fell in love with adventure in the first place and change how you think about the genre forever. I envy anyone who’s getting to experience this incredible book for the first time.” — Charlie Jane Anders, author of the Nebula Award–winning novel “All the Birds in the Sky”
“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.” — Dahlia Adler, author of “Under the Lights” and editor of “His Hideous Heart”
“Arrrrr you ready for the swashbuckling, gorgeous, action-packed world of ‘The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea’? I’ve been in love with Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s writing for a long time, and I’m thrilled that you get to fall in love with it, too. A stunning fantasy that breaks all the rules — and hearts — in the best of ways.” — Sara Farizan, author of “Here to Stay” and “If You Could Be Mine”
“‘The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea’ is a beautiful confrontation of a book. Maggie Tokuda-Hall explores the cost of violence from every conceivable angle, trusting the reader to follow her intricate story and the complicated characters who inhabit it. Everything has a price, and every adventure takes its toll. ‘The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea’ asks what parts of ourselves we’re willing to sacrifice, and who we’re willing to sacrifice them for.” — Sarah Gailey, author of “Magic for Liars” and “When We Were Magic”