The Changeling Sea

I fin­ished read­ing my first Christ­mas book today. The Changeling Sea by Patri­cia McKil­lip. Despite the fact that she writes fan­ta­sy aimed at a main­ly female audi­ence she remains one of my favorite fan­ta­sy authors.

The Changeling Sea is a short­er sto­ry, 136 pp in paper­back form, but its brief­ness does not make the sto­ry any less effec­tive. I guess the book could be aimed at young teenage girls since the main char­ac­ter, Peri­win­kle, is a fif­teen year old fisherman’s daugh­ter who seems quite alone and ungain­ly, her moth­er doesn’t care for her, her appear­ance is made fun of an all that. Any­way, she hex­es the sea and that is when things get rolling. She runs into the changeling sons of the king and a rogu­ish magi­cian as well.

What I like best about this book is what I like best about every­thing that McKil­lip writes. She talks near things but not about them. So while dan­ger is present there is no vio­lence, while love is described, it isn’t romance. But maybe that is a bit off, for many of her books can be quite Roman­ti­cish. Per­haps it is bet­ter to say that the char­ac­ters don’t seem to have dan­ger or romance or vio­lence or love as their goal. All her char­ac­ters seem to be seek­ing a vari­ety of wis­dom that might man­i­fest itself dan­ger­ous­ly or love­ly. It is hard to pin down her books, at least for me, because they are fey. Fey­ly writ­ten but indomitable. The sto­ries and char­ac­ters and forces are all sol­id and seam­less togeth­er. So I nev­er fear for char­ac­ters or even real­ly start read­ing the sto­ry from with­in it. Maybe this is because I find it hard to be the female pro­tag­o­nists. Nev­er until the end do I ever final­ly feel the emo­tion, but it comes strong at that point.

Her prose is more like poet­ry and her imagery and nat­ur­al mag­ic [oxy­moron!] are unpar­al­leled. It also rocks that she doesn’t write uber­trilo­gies like so much crap fan­ta­sy appears in. Any of her books are worth a read, but The Changeling Sea would be a good one to whet your appetite if you’ve not encoun­tered her before.