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The Changeling Sea (1988)
by Patricia A. McKillip
No current Talk conversations about this book.
A typical fantasy romance by McKillip. This is a very short novel, telling the story of a young lady, Periwinkle. Peri just lost her father to the sea and her mother is completely lost in her own head over it. Peri and her family live in a small fishing village on a small island. While hating the sea now, Peri keeps being drawn to it and when a mysterious, chained sea dragon appears, things get interesting. A light, well written fantasy romance, though the writing style is a bit subdued for McKillip. Still very worth reading. ( )
This book could have been 5 stars if it wasn't for the ending.
The story is about a girl named Periwinkle, Peri for short, that works at an inn cleaning the floors with two other girls. Peri hates the sea ever since her father's fishing boat returned without him and her mother spends her days looking out the window and talking about a city below the sea. Feeling like she lost both parents, Peri uses the small magic she learned from a witch to hex the sea. There is a prince, a magician and sea creatures in this story that revolves around an inn, the sea, love and greed.
The writing is beautiful as always and the characters are great. I immediately got attached to Peri, who is 15 years old, and also liked her work colleagues that were surprisingly interesting despite being sort of minor characters. The prince was really interesting, the sea dragon was really sweet and funny and I also liked the magician.
I loved the plot of common people dealing with magical creatures that suddenly show up and how the fishermen and the workers at the inn are trying to deal with this situation by hiring a magician. I liked the commentary about greed around these characters too since they are after a gold chain that is on the neck of a sea creature.
The mystery around the king's son and his connection to the sea was really enjoyable and tragic and I really liked the moments between Peri and Kir.
This book really reads like a fairy tale and it doesn't have the dark moments present in "The Forgotten Beasts of Eld", but it still has some surprises and really strong characters and themes.
My only problem with this story was the last page. I really liked the implication of moving on, but I was not a fan of the execution. This happened especially because all of the time I was picturing a certain character as being really really old. So, you can imagine my shock at that scene even though that looking back didn't exactly came out of nowhere. I just hope that character is a minor too since I don't remember the age being mentioned or any of the physical descriptions.
I also thought a certain character that went missing at the start of the book would show up again and now I wonder if there are any hints about what actually happened early on in the text or if it was just left as a mystery.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book but that scene really caught me off guard.
Edit: A friend read this book recently and cleared up what was making me feel a bit uncomfortable. I still keep thinking about this book too so I am changing my rating to 5 stars instead of 4.
I like books that make my thoughts all quiet and almost still - like the calmest, the most gentle waves on the sea.
McKillip's sense of magic resonates strongly with my soul. No wonder she is one of my favourite authors.
I don't know that I would be very vocal in recommending this book.
I would, however, be quietly insistent (and persistent) that you give it a fair shot. It would be absolutely worth it.
To me, this book is very personal.
Not because of the events or emotions or people, no.
But because of the sense of magic and perceptions of the world woven into the story. Because it ties strongly into my own perceptions of magic - perceptions and ideas built long before I came across [b:Riddle-Master: The Complete Trilogy|19821|Riddle-Master The Complete Trilogy (Riddle-Master, #1-3)|Patricia A. McKillip|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1401387247s/19821.jpg|78273].
It's personal, and almost private. Because this book made me realise how exceptionally lucky I was to come across an author who whispers to my soul, and my heart.
It’s telling that none of the characters know what they are doing. They all just fumble along, without a plan, without real insight in why they feel certain things or do certain things. It is telling that even the King doesn’t know how he called his lover from the sea. And even the sea queen is powerless to a certain extent, unable to withstand magic from a girl that doesn’t even know she possesses magic. It seems as McKillip tried to say: do not get distracted by other stuff, just do what’s natural and in front of you.
It is this theme of powerless stumbling that makes this a powerful novel, as an antidote against myths of meritocracy, or novels that call upon responsibility & duty. McKillip shows why being humble is the only realistic option if you want to live a moral life: hubris is always misguided. If you think you really know what you are doing, acting according your very own plans, you are probably delusional.
Full review on Weighing A Pig Doesn't Fatten It
I've been making my way through all of Patricia A. McKillop's fairy tale fantasies and I think this one may just be my favorite.
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.
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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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.54 — Literature English (North America) American fiction 20th Century 1945-1999
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