A young noblewoman is betrothed by her parents into an unwanted, arranged marriage. A young pirate struggles to survive and protect his brother from the dangers inherent in the life they have been forced to live. A mermaid is captured and threatened with death because her blood, when drunk, allows humans the solace of forgetting things they don’t want to remember. A witch lives in seclusion because the Nipran Empire has declared her kind a threat that must be eliminated. The Sea, which the Nipran Empire uses and is attempting to subjugate to its will, will bring these different individuals together for an adventure that will change them and their world, in The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall.
Evelyn Hasegawa has been a constant disappointment to her parents. She would rather walk the seashore in search of shells, a practice her mother finds dirty and pointless, than study etiquette or history. Even though she is from a noble family in the Nipran Empire, she has no interest in politics or the social gatherings her family hosts, and she would rather read her novels about romance and adventure. So, when her mother informs her that she has been betrothed to an officer in the Imperial army on the Floating Islands, Evelyn is shocked, but she is not surprised.
Florian has been working on The Dove, a pirate ship that masquerades as a passenger ship, which takes on passengers, and when they are far enough away from civilization not to be caught, informs them they are to be sold into slavery. He hates this life, but does what he must to keep Alfie, his brother, and himself safe as they try to save up enough money to leave this life behind. When the ship docks at the port for Crandon, the entire crew is shocked. They’ve never taken on passengers from such a large port, and never Imperial nobility. The Captain assigns Florian to guard the young Lady Hasegawa and ensure her safety during the voyage to the Floating Islands. Florian has no use for nobles, but he will do as he is told. The noblewoman is not what he expects. She insists that Florian call her Evelyn instead of Lady Hasegawa. And she has decided that, before the voyage is over, Florian is going to learn to read. He actually enjoys the time he has been ordered to spend with her and as the time approaches when the passengers will be told of their true destination, Florian realizes he must make a choice: follow his orders or save Evelyn’s life.
In her debut novel, Maggie Tokuda-Hall spins a tale of adventure, betrayal, magic and romance. The story is told from the perspective of several different characters, including the Sea herself, which shifts with each chapter. The characters are diverse and inclusive, featuring a wide range of ages, genders and ethnic backgrounds. As the plot unfolds there are many revelations regarding who they are, or what their true motivations may be. Tokuda-Hall infuses the entire novel with a sense of wonder and discovery, whether it is regarding the world around us, or who we are as individuals.
The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea is a rousing swashbuckling romance with just the right amount of magic and wonder. Here is an interview with the author
The novel is available in e-media.