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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

cover of The Changeling Sea

Another enchanting story about a young girl discovering herself-- it actually surprised me how like Howl's Moving Castle this book was (something I might not have noticed if I hadn't read them in sequence). Periwinkle (Peri, for short) is young girl who lives in an island village, and she hates the sea because it has taken both her parents from her-- her father was a fisherman who died at sea, and ever since then her mother has been absent and untalkative, a stranger. In her anger, Peri decides to hex the sea-- and strange & amazing things begin to happen in her small village. Like Sophie in Howl's Moving Castle, as Peri grows up and learns more about the world, she also discovers the magic that is within her.

As she lingers by the sea, Peri meets the King's son Kir, who comes with his father to the seaside for the summer-- but Kir longs for the land under the ocean. Peri's hexes, all unknown to her, loosen some of the underwater magic. A huge, friendly sea dragon with a gold chain appears in the waters near the village, and a magician named Lyo comes (ostensibly to get the gold chain for the villagers). Lyo and Peri discover together that the king had two sons, one on land and another on water-- and the one he knows is the "changeling" longing for the underwater world he belongs to.

A sweet, delightful book. The magician Lyo in particularly seems an amusing and whimsical character, but he also has surprising depths. As always, McKillip's prose is magical-- gorgeous without being too much. Here's Lyo's description of learning magic:

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 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 youc an't remember ever seeing the world any other way. Everything connects to something else.
Later on, Lyo explains how he intuited the true story of the King's two sons.
Odd things draw my attention. Happiness, sorrow, they weave through the world like strangely colored threads that can be found in unexpected places. Even when they are hidden away, most secret, they leave signs, messages, because if something is not said in words, it will be said in another way.

Title:The Changeling Sea
Author:Patricia McKillip
Date published:1988
Genre:Young Adult Fantasy
Number of pages:137
Notes:Second reading


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