Patricia A. McKillip. I have totally fallen asleep reading some of her novels, and I have been totally entranced by some of her other novels. It’s a rocky relationship. For example, The Forgotten Beasts of Eld . Has anyone read it? It’s a beautiful fantastical piece of work. I was desperate enough to buy it though the only cover version that was available at that time was the uglier, “computerized/C.G.-looking” one. This was back when I was paranoid about internet shopping because of the possibility of fraud and stuff. Anyway, other works she’s written include Ombria in Shadow , Od Magic, The Tower at Stony Wood. I didn’t like these, or I guess, I wasn’t able to appreciate these works. She writes beautifully in them, no doubt, with liquid flowing, dream-like prose. But, while I read those works, I would fall asleep almost right away. And I would be confused as I fell asleep. Then, I’d wake up and hate myself for having fallen asleep over a book that had so much potential, not to mention good taste in cover art (usually Kinuko Y. Craft, I believe). So, I end up either avoiding her work or loving it.
Anyway, I recently re-read The Changeling Sea. It’s on the “loving” side of the relationship. The story is about a young girl, Peri, who’s family has fallen apart because, she believes, of the sea. In a fit of anger, Peri throws these hexes into the sea and curses it. Soon after, all these strange things begin to happen and Peri’s faded, disconnected life is suddenly full of intrigue and meaning and color.
It’s such a lovely little slip of a book that I can carry in my purse. The story’s a simple story and can be read in a dedicated few hours. It’s got the “little sea-side treasure” feel to it. It’s ultimately a story about the Peri and all the magic and lore of the sea. In her comments about this story, Patricia McKillip writes: “I loved writing about the sea itself, which some reviewers felt became a character in the story, as compelling and unpredictable as anyone human. It’s a very mysterious realm. You can’t learn much at all from looking at it, you can only throw a line down and see what comes up on your hook, or throw yourself into it on its own terms and trust that you’ll be able to find your way back. Or you can stand on the shore and imagine what might lie under all that water, which is what people have done for thousands of years.” The sea is definitely a thing of wonder and mystery in this novel.
My favorite character is undoubtedly Lyo, because he’s just so charming in his mage-y way. Here’s a quote that I chuckled at, because it happened so suddenly while Peri was ruminating and busy doing her work in her typical oblivious fashion:
Peri grunted and shoved her bucket farther down the hall. The frown crept over her face. The wave of suds she sent across the floor turned into tide and foam.
There was a sudden crash. The inn door, with someone clinging to it, had blown open under a vigorous puff of spring wind. Peri looked up to see a stranger lose his balance on her tide. He danced upright a moment, and she noticed finally the blazing thunderheads and the bright blue sky beyond him. Then he tossed his arms and and fell, slid down the hall to kick over her bucket before he washed to a halt under her astonished face.
The stranger smiled after a moment. He was a small, dark-haired, wiry young man with skin the light polished brown of a hazelnut. His eyes were very odd: a vivid blue-green-gray, like stones glittering different colors under the sun. He turned on his side on the wet floor and cupped his chin in his palm.
“Who are you?” [he asked]
I always chuckle at this passage, because I imagine Lyo gallantly splashing about in the water then, as if there wasn’t any water there at all and they were lying on a field of grass on a summer day, look up at Peri as if they were just conversing. Also, I slip on all sorts of things and I always get the feeling that’s how funny it looks when I fall. Except I’m not so charming about it.
Carla Wyzgala was inspired by The Changeling Sea enough that she decided to paint some of the scenes. I think she’s got the feel of it:
Rating: 4.5/5 Hexes thrown into the sea!