The siren, the song, and the spy

Maggie Tokuda-Hall

Book - 2023

"By sinking a fleet of Imperial Warships, the Pirate Supreme and their resistance fighters have struck a massive blow against the Emperor. Now allies from across the empire are readying themselves, hoping against hope to bring about the end of the conquerors' rule and the rebirth of the Sea. But trust and truth are hard to come by in this complex world of mermaids, spies, warriors, and aristocrats. Who will Genevieve--lavishly dressed but washed up, half-dead, on the Wariuta island shore--turn out to be? Is warrior Koa's kindness toward her admirable, or is his sister Kaia's sharp suspicion wiser? And back in the capital, will pirate-spy Alfie really betray the Imperials who have shown him affection, especially when a du...plicitous senator reveals he would like nothing better? Meanwhile, the Sea is losing more and more of herself as her daughters continue to be brutally hunted, and the Empire continues to expand through profits made from their blood. The threads of time, a web of schemes, shifting loyalties, and blossoming identities converge in Maggie Tokuda-Hall's remarkable companion to The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea, as unlikely young allies work to forge a new and better world."-- Provided by publisher.

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Subjects
Genres
Queer fiction
Fantasy fiction
Spy fiction
Action and adventure fiction
Young adult fiction
Published
Somerville, Massachusetts : Candlewick Press 2023.
Language
English
Main Author
Maggie Tokuda-Hall (author)
Edition
First edition
Physical Description
311 pages : map ; 24 cm
ISBN
9781536218053
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

Florian and Evelyn, the star-crossed lovers from Tokuda's The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea (2020) return in this second novel, which loosely continues their story and adds others: warrior siblings Koa and Kaia, shipwrecked Genevieve, and newly-betrothed Dai and Thistle. Genevieve starts the story, though her tale is quickly enveloped into Koa and Kaia's as they find her nearly dead on the red sands of the Wariuta shore. Fearing that she is a Colonizer, they take her prisoner and she accidentally begins to learn the secrets of the tribe. Thistle is visited by Lady Minami, who might not be who she says she is, and may know more about the Resistance than Thistle expects. There's a lot going on here, and while this is billed as a sequel in some ways and a companion in others, readers will be best served in reading The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea before delving in here. Buy where the first is popular.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A tragedy upends the worldview of a handmaid to an Imperial spy in this follow-up to 2020's The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea. The Red Shore is home to the Wariuta, whose warriors fight alongside hyena familiars and whose alchemists hold the secret to kau, an explosive coveted by the Colonizers. When a girl dressed in Nipran clothing washes ashore and reveals her ability to speak the Wariuta's Sky language, Wariuta leader Ica spares the girl's life in exchange for her services as an interpreter. Koa, Ica's gentle, pacifist son, is relieved by this decision. But Kaia, his sister, makes clear her distrust of the girl, Genevieve, whom she views as simply another murderous Colonizer. A Nipran commander proposes a trade agreement with the Wariuta, which Ica accepts to prevent further bloodshed, but a betrayal leads to a massacre that leaves nearly all the Wariuta dead except Kaia, who is captured, and Koa, who takes a conscience-stricken Genevieve and a few survivors to a hidden oasis where there resides a siren whose blood holds the secret to the Nipran Empire's defeat. No one escapes the Sea's reckoning in this searing sequel. The cast is diverse in gender identity, sexual orientation, skin color, and socioeconomic status. Together, they tell a story in which justice isn't attained through a cycle of vengeance but with the truth laid bare, paving the way toward reconciliation. Powerful and emotionally gratifying. (map) (Fantasy. 13-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Prologue Genevieve Genevieve was not dead. Thanks to the Emperor, she was alive. She was aware of her body, which lay on the sand, aware of the sun that cracked her skin. But she could not open her eyes. Time had gone in all directions, and Genevieve did not know where in its vast landscape she had fallen. Sometimes she was at her mother's dinner table. Then she was back aboard the Dove. She had heard the whumph of a submerged explosion breaking the surface of the sea. The Lady Ayer called to her and bade she braid her hair. A boy her age held out his hand, his name lost in the blare of cannons and pistols firing. The wind carried a name: Thistle. She had not heard it aloud in years. She tried to move her chapped lips around the sound, but all that arose was a hiss. She coughed, her throat dry and aching. She was alive. Her survival was not the only impossible thing that had happened. The Imperials had lost. The Emperor's ships capsized and crushed. The Pirate Supreme had escaped the Emperor once again. The Lady Ayer was dead. The Lady Ayer was dead. Genevieve had watched it happen, had seen her lady fall. It was the slowest and fastest thing she had ever witnessed: the sudden and terrible explosion of blood at her lady's neck, the inexorable crumple of her body. The great Lady Ayer. The Emperor's greatest spy. She watched it happen again and again, but she could never stop it from happening. Her mentor's blood hung in the air, a fine mist. Genevieve pushed her fingers into the wet sand. She made a fist. She could hear the Lady's voice in her mind, willing her to move. To open her eyes. She blinked against the blazing sun. Sit up, said the Lady. Genevieve obeyed her orders, just as she always had. It did not matter if she was dead or alive, real or only in her mind; the Lady Ayer would always be her master, her mentor. Her voice was a comfort and a compass, and Genevieve dearly needed both. Her body screamed in dissent as she sat up, but Genevieve did not listen to it, not even as the world spun around her. You need water. All the seawater you swallowed is making you sick. You need fresh water or else you'll die. At this, Genevieve let out a mirthless laugh. There was no fresh water here. There was only the stinging seawater and the burning red sand. The laugh turned into another round of racking coughs. Where is your pistol? Genevieve felt down her leg. Still in its holster about her ankle. Where is your dagger? She felt her thigh and found the handle of her dagger. The effort of sitting up, of moving, of coughing had been too much. She lay back down. Get up, said the Lady's voice, but Genevieve could not. Tears did not fall, but she was crying all the same, ashamed of her disobedience. Lady Ayer had taught her better than that. She saw Rake's face, the face of her countryman, the face of her captor, saw it alight with triumph after he pulled the trigger on the gun that would kill her lady. She could feel her hate like something corporeal, something literally in her belly, heavy and pointed and hot. Distantly, she could hear laughter, high--pitched and echoing over the dunes. It was Rake, she knew, the Pirate Supreme's man. Rake laughing at the demise of the Emperor's men. Rake laughing at her pain. "Hey," said a voice. He did not speak the Common Tongue, but Genevieve understood him even if she could not recall which language he spoke. "Hello?" That accursed laughing, the giggling was closer now, so close she could feel hot gusts of breath against her burning skin. All around her was the stench of blood, of meat gone to rot. She flinched away from the reek of that breath, tried to blink open her eyes once more. Your pistol. She was in danger. The Lady had taught her to defend herself, and her voice was insistent now, urging her to grab her weapon. Genevieve was no damsel in distress. She had been molded by the Lady Ayer; she was her right hand. She could see the man only as a shadow that loomed enormous over her, backlit by the cruel sun, which added to her confusion. There was a man there, but his voice was absent, and the Lady's voice was there, but she was absent. The world had become nothing but a flurry of noises and shapes and pain, and Genevieve could hardly parse it. The figure nudged her with his foot, not hard but enough to bring what little remained of her last meal--​eaten when? days ago maybe--​in Genevieve's belly up and burning through her throat. She retched, and she was distantly aware of his sounds of consternation and disgust. It was, if uncomfortable, also a perfect cover. She curled into herself on one side and let her hand drift to her ankle. She saw the animal before she saw the man, its great square head too close to her own, sniffing at her with interest. It let out a high giggle, chittering and chilling. She startled away from it, and the animal startled away from her, but not far enough. It bared its teeth at her, and she knew at once where the stench of blood had come from. Hyena. The familiars of Wariuta warriors, the keepers of the Red Shore. Genevieve remembered. She had seen etchings and paintings of the hyenas: vicious, horrible animals with blood dripping from their maws, their gnashing teeth that could take off a man's leg. When the warriors came of age, they found their familiar, and from then on, the two would be inseparable, and deadly. The warriors of the Red Shore had killed many Imperial men, even if their means were crude. But they did not have pistols. Genevieve's pistol was there, on her ankle. She let her fingers wrap around it. It's him or you. If this man was a warrior, then he would kill her. "Are you OK?" he asked. He was easily twice as big as she was. If it came to hand--to--hand, she would lose unless she was extraordinarily lucky or he was extraordinarily stupid. She could not take that chance. Shoot. With what little strength she had, she turned on the man and pointed her pistol at him. He held his hands up. Genevieve squeezed the trigger. Excerpted from The Siren, the Song, and the Spy by Maggie Tokuda-Hall All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.