The Changeling Sea

ISBN: 0141312629
ISBN 13: 9780141312620
By: Patricia A. McKillip

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Fantasy Favorites Fiction High Fantasy Magic Mermaids Romance To Read Ya Young Adult

About this book

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.

Reader's Thoughts


This short novel is lyrical and gripping, as the story of two princes, one bound to land but longing for the sea, and one bound to the sea but longing for land, and the ordinary girl (Periwinkle) who befriends both. Beautifully written and highly recommended!


Beautifully, breathtakingly woven, as one would expect from Ms. McKillip. The characters are exquisitely fleshed-out and complex, mysterious and lovely, infused with emotions and heart expected of an everyday person, yet with just the barest hint of magic running its current beneath. The prose is absolutely spellbinding, and the conversations compelling, riddled with that simple, effortless, alluring ease that flows so naturally from the author's hand.May expand more on character thoughts later, but all in all, this was entirely lovely; a book I cherished and felt and swallowed every step of the way back to the sea and beyond, with eager eyes, fingers, and heart. (❧"What have you done?” she asked herself aloud. "What have you done?" She answered herself a few moments later. "I’ve gone and fallen in love with the sea.")

Rachel Brown

Peri, a young woman whose fisherman father drowned, casts a spellagainst the sea, calling forth a monster… and a Prince.A magical, moving, and completely original story, peopled with quirkilycharming characters. Unlike most fantasy novels, this isn’t aboutwielding swords and spells to save the world, but about the power andwonder of both magic and human relationships. Peri is a likable,offbeat heroine, and the choice she makes regarding the three men whocome into her life, the magician, the prince, and the sea dragon, isbelievable and heartwarming.All the characters, even the most minor ones, have their own lives andagendas, bringing to life the vividly imagined setting of a fishingvillage on the edge of enchantment. Dialogue is sometimes poetic,sometimes funny, but always well-phrased. The balance in this bookbetween the little moments of daily life and the beauty of magic andfeeling reminded me of books like The Secret Garden.It's one Patricia McKillip's more obscure novels, but also one of herbest.


Reading Changeling Sea, I felt rewarded. Like someone walked up to me and handed me a glass of cold milk and a fresh warm cookie every once in a while. Just enough so you never got stuffed with cookies or gorged with milk. Sounds good, right?The story focuses on the plight of Peri. What I like about Peri is she is despondent so you know she isn't here to sell you anything in chipper tones. She's a realist and a doer. She starts out the book by waging war on the sea. Remember when I just said that she was a realist? You better believe it! As I said she is a doer.Suffice to say that her personal war against the sea leads to...incidents. Incidents of hilarity, awe, magic and despair. Sometimes all at same moment. This book might be short but it packs a punch. These were the cookies.It's also a really great example of how writers should use descriptive writing. I have never read a book filled with such wonderful descriptions that they both gave you a picture and conveyed the character's emotions as well. It wasn't just a laundry list of scenery then a laundry list of emotions tacked on separately. The two were interwoven. Each description told you how the character was feeling. When they talked you felt the timbre of their voices reverberating off the surroundings. When they looked you saw the through their eyes and the desire for that view, to have it or to change it. When they walked you felt the ground they tread upon and the strength of their gait. You get my drift I hope. It was that refreshing glass of cold milk.Changeling Sea is filled with scullery maids, fishers, boats, mermaids, rain, cold, princes, magicians, magic, sass, gold, periwinkles, a ring, a king, a queen, a dragon and the sea. What it doesn't seem to have is anything at all wrong with it. Except that now I am filled, with milk and cookies.

Ian Mathers

I got this book years ago, and for some reason every time I'd try to read it I'd stall out after five minutes. I got it because the McKillip I'd read (the Riddle-Master series) are among my favourite books ever, so maybe some part of me was worried this one wouldn't measure up. Finally I grabbed it on impulse one morning where I didn't have anything to read on the train and maybe it was the lack of internet distractions but it grabbed me hard. I think I read it in three sittings, and I want to reread it right now. McKillip's prose is beautiful here as it was in that series, in the same unshowy kind of way; it's not filagreed to death so much as it displays a pretty nuanced, humane, wise kind of perception into people and the world (and magic). I kept thinking as I read it that I wished there was a Miyazaki adaption of it, or maybe just that it felt like there could have been (and without the kind of changes he made to Howl's Moving Castle, not that I don't love that movie as it is). That's the kind of tone it struck for me, the kind of nuance and warmth and beauty it has. Not one of his movies that are pitched to very young children, but I'd be perfectly content giving this book to a teen or pre-teen reader, and I think they'd enjoy it and get a lot out of it. And when they revisit it later in life, they'll find like I found that it's still a novel worth reading.

Rachel Neumeier

This book is perfect.If you know someone who says she doesn't like fantasy? Loan her this book.


This is the correct edition.The main character in this book is a rather poorly educated child, and that's only partly because of a breakdown in her family. The death of her father and what she believes to be the enchantment of her mother by her father's killer (the sea itself) do lead to a breakdown in nurturing. But there doesn't seem to be any organized schooling in the village. There are counting rhymes (used to teach speech to the sea dragon) and other learning techniques. There are even a few books. But there's no school depicted. The semi-orphaned Peri (who doesn't even know of the existence of the periwinkle flower, and was named after the marine snail) is drafted to work as a maid at the local inn, though she's still a child. She's adopted by a local wisewoman, before the woman's mysterious disappearance.What she learns from the wisewoman is put to inexpert use in a somewhat misguided attempt to undo all the enchantments of the sea, which has totally unexpected consequences. This is a charming book. McKillip is a master wordsmith. But to me, one of the main charms is the recognition that not all consequences are intentional. I tend to read the book at times when it's natural to blame the sea for ill events. I'm reading it now just in rotation, but I'll keep it on hand for the other use.


I have read a number of books by McKillip in the past and enjoyed them. This book was no exception; the writing is beautiful and creates wonderful imagery, the story has a fairy tale feel to it. I absolutely loved reading it.Peri's father was lost to the sea last year and her mother is in a deep depression. Peri has taken to living in an old woman's abandoned house so that she doesn't have to face her mother's depression every day. One day Peri is so overcome by anger at the sea that she throws hexes into it and curses it. This ends up setting off a string of momentousness events. Now Peri finds herself drawn into the sad story of two princes and the curse that has affected them both.Like all of McKillip's stories this one is beautifully written. There is excellent imagery and creative characters that are very engaging and make the story really come alive.Peri is an intriguing character, she is a loner and angry at the sea. She sees things differently from those around her and this gives her an interesting perspective. The most intriguing character of the story was the magician that helps Peri deal with the two Princes. You can tell that the magician has a mysterious past and can do mysterious things. The two Princes are tough to relate to and kind of aloof because of the situations they are in, so they weren't my favorite. The plot has a very fairy tale feel to it. The way that there are curses on the two Princes and the way kingdom beneath the sea is tied to the kingdom Peri lives in is classic fairy tale. The story ends well and a bit ambiguously. As expected in a fairy tale story like this, not all ends happily but not all is horribly lost either.Overall I really enjoyed the beautiful writing and description and was drawn to the eerie fairy tale feel of the story. I wish that the Kingdom Underneath the Sea had been expanded on some, I also wish we had gotten more of a chance to delve into the magician's past. Still given how slim this book is, it packs an engaging and magical story with surprising depth. I will definitely continue to read McKillip and look forward to reading other books that she has written.


SO GOOD. I loved it. The feels man.


This book came highly recommended, and I was prepared to really like it. When I started reading it, it reminded me of The Last Unicorn. As the story progressed, though, I found that it seemed to lack the depth that I was hoping it would have. It could have been really good, but I found myself unable to connect with any of the characters. I liked that Kir was so desperate to get into the sea, but he was also aloof and unreachable, and I found his relationship with Peri rather forced. What reason did he have to love her, or her him? It seemed to be convenient for the author for them to be in love, but the story didn't back it up, and because of that, any sense of loss that should have come at the end of the story was missing, and I found the end rather unsatisfying, since the whole book pointed to exactly what would happen (but not how) all along, and there weren't any surprises once we got there, except perhaps, for the magician's sudden attraction to Peri.


Il romanzo è molto datato — del 1988 — ma io adoro la penna elegantemente "vecchio stile" della McKillip. Come suggerito dal titolo originale — The Changeling Sea — la storia ruota intorno allo scambio di due bambini, uno dei quali venuto dalle profondità del mare e a questo legato indissolubilmente. È una vicenda semplice, in fin dei conti, pensata per un pubblico giovane, ma piena di belle suggestioni e scritta in modo talmente scorrevole che la si legge tutta d'un fiato. C'è una ragazza un po' selvaggia, che odia il mare per aver portato via suo padre. Ci sono prìncipi in cerca di sé stessi. Un re amato e odiato con un'intensità che non conosce tempo. Un drago incatenato fra le onde. Un giovane mago dal sorriso pronto, un mago vero, che cercherà di placare quel mare pieno di segreti. Tutti elementi classici del fantasy — è vero — ma raccontati e intrecciati con rara grazia.Insomma, una piacevolissima scoperta fatta in biblioteca. E un libro di cui comprerò una copia alla prima occasione.


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.

Paola (A Novel Idea)

Originally posted at A Novel Idea ReviewsRating: 3/5When Peri’s fisherman father was lost at sea, she found herself bereaved of both parents. Now her mother does nothing but stare out the window at the breaking waves, and Peri goes to her work at the local inn to scrub floors, blaming the sea for everything that has gone wrong in her life. Having learned some small magic from an old woman who once lived not far from her own cottage, Peri puts together a few awkward hexes and hurls them into the water, aiming to curse the ocean that stole so much from her. Little does she know that her mother’s fairytales about a land under the sea could be real, and she never once expected to meet a Prince, a King, a magician, a fire dragon, and a mermaid all in one summer…This book was a nice, short read with an interesting story. Peri’s relationship with Prince Kir, however, kind of baffled me. Supposedly they fell in love and all, but I couldn’t quite pinpoint just where that happened, or how. When I think harder about it, I guess Peri and Kir symbolized a love for the sea, which is forever changing and yet always there. And while I couldn’t understand how they fell in love in the first place, some of the best lines in the book where from Kir to Peri:(view spoiler)[ “I’m lucky,” she said, and heard her voice tremble. “Why?” “That you are only half like your mother,” she whispered. “Because it would be very hard to say no to the sea.” “Yes,” he said huskily. “You are lucky. Because I would rise out of the tide bringing you coral and black pearls, and I would not rest until I had your heart, and that I would carry away with me back into the sea, and leave you, like me, standing on a barren shore, crying for what the sea possessed, and with no way but one to get it.”Or from Peri to Kir, even: “Be happy now,” she whispered, aware of all the shining waves behind him reaching toward him, withdrawing, beckoning again. She added, feeling the pain again in her throat, “When I’m old—older than the old woman who taught me to make the hexes—come for me then.” “I will.” “Promise me. That you will bring me black pearls and sing me into the sea when I am old.” “I promise.”(hide spoiler)]And even though I think Kir was kind of a jerk, I guess I can’t blame him. His heart belonged in the sea. Only when or if Peri could become a part of that sea could they really belong together.Sigh. Well, good book, though!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>


A very good, short story. Almost like a childhood fairy-tale. It reminded me of 'The Little Mermaid' a bit, same kind of atmosphere but the ending was sadder in the original Andersen's version. Patricia A. McKillip leaves us with a new hope for the main characters. It is my first book by this author... I wonder how will I like the others.


Wonderful story. So glad I finally managed to pick it up! <3

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