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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bewitched, 8 Jan. 2006
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
One of Patricia McKillip's lesser-known works, "Changeling Sea" is reminiscent of her rare short novel "Something Rich and Strange," as both deal with the sea and its pull on human beings. Thankfully this book will soon be reprinted by the excellent imprint Firebird books; it's an enchanting short novel full of vivid images and characters.
Peri's father was drowned, and her mother lives half in a dream world. Peri herself scrubs floors for a living, and remains embittered against the sea that stole her parents both in body and in mind. One night as she is weaving hexes to cast into the sea, she encounters Kir, a young prince with an obsessive longing for the sea. He asks her to put a mysterious message in with her hexes, and she agrees. A sea-dragon with a gold chain around its neck surfaces not long after she tosses the hexes into the ocean, and a passing mage named Lyo tries to take the chain for the fishermen -- except he accidently turns it into hundreds of tiny flowers.
Soon strange things begin to surface from the sea, just after Kir and his father leave for a distant island. Peri encounters the sea dragon pulling itself onto the land, and sees it transform into a naked young man who strongly resembles Kir. A years-old web of magic, love, revenge, and sea-longing must be unraveled before Kir can find peace, and Peri can find love.
One of the enchanting things about Patricia McKillip's novels is their simplicity. Though we have some of the essential trappings of typical fantasy -- wizards, dragons, mermaids, kings and princes and plenty of magic -- they are used in a very diffeent manner than most readers will be used to.
The plotline is deceptively simple, and has the feeling of being far more complex than it is. Several plot elements can be guessed ahead of time, but this does not detract from the storyline. Especially because, as always, her prose is full of magic; the descriptions are lush and beautiful, even the descriptions of the sea-dragon.
In such cases as the description of the sea-lady, they are exceptional, even for McKillip. At the same time, this dreaminess is balanced out by the homey atmosphere of the inn where Peri works. The dialogue ranges from poetic, almost songlike, to chummy and amusing.
Peri is an unusual heroine: she isn't pretty, sweet-natured, powerful, or anything unusual but kind and angsty. McKillip repeatedly emphasizes that, unlike Cinderella, Snow White or similar floor-scrubbing protagonists, Peri has calloused knees, perpetually messy hair, and a nose that she perceives as being too big. Yet she is entrancing to some of the male characters, and respected by all of them. Lyo is reminiscent of the "Riddlemaster" character Rood, with his offputting wit and uncanny clear sight. Kir drips angst and unhappiness, especially since he seems unable to love anything or anyone on the land. The unnamed sea-dragon/youth is almost babylike in his trust and eagerness to learn.
"Changeling Sea" is an exceptional story, full of magic, romance, and a small cast of exceptionally-developed characters. One of the finest fantasies to be reprinted by Firebird.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting - a true gem, 20 Feb. 2007
Brida "izumi" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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I devoured this little book in the space of a few hours. I enjoyed it so much, I really did wish it had been longer, so that I could have savoured even more of the rich prose.

The story is about Peri, or Periwinkle, whose father has been taken by the sea. In Peri's eyes, the sea has taken everything from her - although her mother still lives, Peri says that she has been enchanted by the sea, as she yearnfully watches it ebb and flow, longing to catch a glimpse of the world beneath the sea, the world that has taken her husband from her. In desperation of losing her father physically and her mother emotionally to the sea, Peri decides to hex it in order to get vengeance. It is from all of this hate and sorrow that the magic of the sea begins to untangle. Peri releases a sa-dragon and so then begins a discovery of what truly lies beneath the waves, and why. . .

But, THE CHANGELING SEA is more than just a book about what lies beneath the sea. Despite its length, it also examines love and loss. It also deals with finding your own identity, the one that is true to you. It is about transitions and learning the lessons of life; that humans are not perfect beings, but they should have the grace to accept and deal with the consequences.

This is a beautiful little book, a true treasure of a story. The perfect place to have read this would have been next to sea, so that you can hear and smell it as well as read about its wonders and mysteries. I also thought it was a breath of fresh air that the heroine of the story is not the typically stunning young woman, who is perfectly at ease with herself. Peri is certainly not the most physically attractive character, nor is she very comfortable in her own skin, yet there is something about her which rings very true.

What I loved about this story was how McKillip manages to make the sea into a character in its own right. Towards the end of the book there is a lovely passage which sums up the essence of the book:-

"Humans say the sea sings to them and traps them, but sometimes it is the human song that traps the sea." (p. 124)

Hunt this book out and read it. I am so glad I stumbled across it. It has made me desperate to read more by this author; and, of course, it has made me long for the sea. . .
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Changeling Sea, 26 Jan. 2007
I love this book, and have read it many times since I first read it when i was in my teens. The most important thing about this book is the way it reinvents the traditional faerytale form and imbues it with a deeper and more beautiful magic. THE CHANGELING SEA is a story about love, and loss, and also about the beauty and danger of the sea. Most of all, it is about people and the way they hide themselves or find themselves. The story wanders through the lives of a gypsey magician, two changeling Princes, a sea monster, a Faery Queen of the Sea and the mourning King of a sea-locked kingdom. It's most impiortant character is Peri (Periwinkle), a young girl who's father and mother have been taken from her by the sea in different ways. Her father lost in a storm and his fishing boat washed up on the beach. Her mother retreated into a dream of the kingdom under the ocean where her husband, she believes, may still live. It is Peri's anger and yearning which cause the magic of the sea to begin to unravel, and eventually cause a sea-change in the lives of many others, both hgih and low.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A SWEET FAIRYTALE, 7 Oct. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Changeling Sea (Library Binding)
I found this book to be sweet and dreamy, but salty and smelling of the sea. It is the story of Peri, a young women whose father drowned a year before the book starts. Peri's mother has not been the same since, and Peri has a hatred for the sea. Because of this our young herione throws hexes into the sea, cursing the thing that she has learned to hate. A sea monster, a tormented prince, and a second rate magician are thrown into the mix, all tied somehow to the sea. I really enjoyed this book and I think it is a good read.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I was hexed!!, 28 Jun. 2004
Just simply by opening the first page, you won't be able to leave the book alone.
From an unlikely heroine to the deep feeling weaved through the story, it makes you appreciate what a high fantasy story is really about. The Changeling Sea is definitely not a simple seem-too-simple story!!
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The Changeling Sea
The Changeling Sea by Patricia A. McKillip (Library Binding - Oct. 1988)
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