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The Changeling Sea by Patricia A. McKillip
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The Changeling Sea (1988)

by Patricia A. McKillip

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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» See also 48 mentions

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Peri has a troubled relationship with the sea. Though she lives on a small island that relies on it, her father was mysteriously swept away by it, the only remnants of his existence his fishing boat that washed ashore without him. Her mother now stands transfixed by the water, always staring out at the water with empty eyes no matter what time of day it is. In a fit of frustration she haphazardly hexes the sea, cursing its existence and demanding it's magic to unravel.

And the next day, everything would change for her and the fishing community she is a part of.

This is a book I probably would have never read had I not been reading books published in the year I was born this year, but I'm very glad I did. It's a wonderful story, despite the fact that it is so filled with traditional fantasy tropes and the plot is one that doesn't usually appeal to me. I found Peri's loneliness relatable, and though I've read numerous books where the sea feels like a character of its own, in The Changeling Sea it really has a life of its own.

There is something about a simple, well-written fairy tale that is unlike anything else in the realm of literature, and Patricia McKillip is obviously skilled at it. This is the 2nd book I've read by her and I've loved them both, and will definitely continue reading through her work in the future. ( )
  Ape | Aug 21, 2014 |
This is a gorgeous, bittersweet, perfect, completely unsatisfying story. It's a fairytale that feels real. All of those things at once? Yes.

I didn't like the other book by this author I've read nearly as much -- perhaps not at all, I can't remember. But this is lovely. It's a story about longing, really, longing and love. It spellbound me, and managed to capture something I love about the sea: its beauty, humans' fascination with it, its danger... Dar Williams' The Ocean comes to mind here, somewhat.

It's not really a story tied together by plot, but by emotion, and Kir's longing, Peri's love and hope, the king's sadness, it all got to me. The book is short, but I'll be thinking about it for a while. Another comparison that comes to mind is Susan Cooper's Seaward. ( )
  shanaqui | Nov 8, 2013 |
Originally posted at Paperback Wonderland.

Sometimes people ask me to recommend a book and it usually goes a bit like this:

Hipster girl: Hey do you know which book I shoul--
Me: [b:The Changeling Sea|59|The Changeling Sea|Patricia A. McKillip|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1313430180s/59.jpg|2085180]!
~*~
Metalhead dude: Hey, I've been thinking about readi--
Me: [b:The Changeling Sea|59|The Changeling Sea|Patricia A. McKillip|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1313430180s/59.jpg|2085180]!
~*~
Mum: Any books you--
Me: [b:The Changeling Sea|59|The Changeling Sea|Patricia A. McKillip|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1313430180s/59.jpg|2085180]!
~*~
Some friend: Got any books yo--
Me: [b:The Changeling Sea|59|The Changeling Sea|Patricia A. McKillip|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1313430180s/59.jpg|2085180]!
Some friend. You always say that! I've already read it!
Me: READ IT AGAIN.

Anyone who's lived their whole life by the sea will tell you that it's hard to successfully write a story that will give you the sense of wonder and possibility it brings. [b:A Menina do Mar|6480073|A Menina do Mar|Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1249291141s/6480073.jpg|1811677] comes to mind, and though it's a children's book it's absolutely perfect, perhaps because I read it when I was a little girl and those books always have a special place in our hearts. [b:The Changeling Sea|59|The Changeling Sea|Patricia A. McKillip|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1313430180s/59.jpg|2085180] through what I can only assume to be some freaky magical powers [a:Patricia McKillip|25|Patricia A. McKillip|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1220752490p2/25.jpg] possesses, managed to be placed into that same corner of my heart even though I've read it as an adult. I guess that's the highest praise a book can get. ( )
  Isa_Lavinia | Sep 10, 2013 |
It's been too long since my last Patricia McKillip title. The Changeling Sea is the story of Peri, short for Periwinkle, who is angry at the sea for taking her father and leaving her a mother whose mourning has led her into a dream-world. In their fishing village, the sea is everything, but Peri, angry and alone, throws out a futile challenge against it: she hexes the sea. Peri doesn't really know what she's doing; it's just a gesture.

But slowly the sea begins to answer. A sea-dragon comes to the harbor, trailing a chain of fabulous gold. Greedy for the treasure, the villagers hire magicians to charm the rich chain off the creature. But it is an embarrassing failure, especially with the king's entourage come to stay at the royal summer house. Peri, on her knees scrubbing floors at the inn, hears all the gossip, but she has secrets of her own to keep. For the king's son Kir has entered her life and stirred the first movements of love. But he cannot answer this love, for he is consumed by the sea in a way she has never seen among her seafaring folk.

A changeling replaced for the prince, a dark entangling of hatred and love, the complicated pattern of relationships and motives and histories all mixed up together: this is vintage McKillip. It is not her strongest or most complex work, but it has her touch. For those who know her work, this is praise enough. The unerring sense for dreamy, lush fantasy atmosphere that feels real, the fascinating characters, and the rich sense of depth and history — it's all here. Recommended, as usual! ( )
1 vote wisewoman | Jun 30, 2013 |
I’ve tried reading The Tower at Stony Wood several times and have never gotten through it. I think I just had the wrong book, because this one was excellent. [Sept. 2008]

-----

The first McKillip book I ever read. I can see why I liked it and kept reading–there’s a lovely iridescence to this one and I really enjoy the way McKillip plays with different fairy tale motifs. Plus, I like the sea. [Jan. 2010] ( )
  maureene87 | Apr 4, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
The story inside is small, but potent, like a well-crafted spell. It makes perfect sense, but it's fairy tale sense, not reasonable sense.
 

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Patricia A. McKillipprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Flerova, ElenaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Whelan,MichaelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Jean Karl
First words
No one really knew where Peri lived the year after the sea took her father and cast his boat, shrouded in a tangle of fishing net, like an empty shell back onto the beach.
Quotations
Peri, working her mop desultorily, found herself daydreaming. Distant isles on the top of the world, past the glaciers and the icebergs, past the winter lands, past winter itself, gleamed like summer light in her head. Magical isles, where fruit was forever ripe and sweet, and the warm air smelled of roses. Lands deep in the sea, where entire cities were made of pearls, and men and women wore garments of fish scales that floated about them in soft, silvery clouds.
She felt him quiet against her. He turned slowly, shakily, on his knees to face her. He put his arms around her wearily, his hands twined in her hair, his chilled face against her face. He did not speak again; he held her until the tide roared around them, between them, forcing them to choose between land and sea, to go, or stay forever.
"Magic is like night, when you first encounter it."

"Night?" she said doubtfully. She skipped a beat with one oar and the Sea Urchin spun a half-circle.

"A vast black full of shapes ..." He trailed his fingers overboard and the Sea Urchin turned its bow toward the horizon again. "Slowly you learn to turn the dark into shapes, colors.... It's like a second dawn breaking over the world. You see something most people can't see and yet it seems as clear as the nose on your face. That there's nothing in the world that doesn't possess its share of magic. Even an empty shell, a lump of lead, an old dead leaf—you look at them and learn to see, and then to use, and after a while you can't remember ever seeing the world any other way."
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141312629, Mass Market Paperback)

Since the day her father's fishing boat returned without him, Peri and her mother have mourned his loss. Her mother sinks into a deep depression and spends her days gazing out at the sea. Unable to control her anger and sadness any longer, Peri uses the small magic she knows to hex the sea. And suddenly into her drab life come the King's sons-changelings with strange ties to the underwater kingdom-a young magician, and, finally, love.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:34:15 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

A floor scrubber and a magician try to help a prince return to his home beneath the sea and help his half brother, a human trapped in the body of a sea monster, return to the land.

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