“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.”
Each new character pushes the protagonists’ old identities in different ways. Evelyn’s discoveries about her fiance and the fine line she walks with the soldier who wants her for himself makes her change the way she thinks of herself. Likewise, the Dove’s protective first mate and the self-centered witch force Flora to reconcile with the parts of herself she isn’t sure she wants to deal with. Tokuda-Hall digs into these fraught identity questions as Evelyn and Florian journey across the Nipran Empire. She folds in the issues of race, colonialism, and sexual assault into conversations about sexism and the patriarchy, and complicates the hero’s journey with queer discovery…
Read the rest of this review at Tor.com.