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.