Book Review: Sea Change by S.M. Wheeler

TOR
304 pp.
Sea Change is essentially one of those fairy tales where the protagonist must negotiate a series of deals in order to obtain his or her objective. Our Heroine is a young woman named Lilly whose home life is best described as dysfunctional and estranged. Her only friend is a kraken named Octavius. When he turns up missing, this leads to a sequence of events where Lilly is forced to leave home and go on a quest to find him.

To find her friend she makes a deal with a witch. The price is extreme and process for exacting the price is disturbing. She is however able to find Octavius, who is being put on display in a circus. Lilly makes a deal with the circus owner to acquire a magical coat. However, the tailor who is able to make the magic coat wants her undead husband back. The husband has been stolen by a witch, whose skin was stolen by a couple of bandits. The bandits have needs that are not being met by their life of crime. Lilly must work her way through this chain of obligations and in the process becomes another person entirely by the end.Like many fairy tales, Sea Change has a number of extremely disturbing elements. Lilly’s family is extremely dysfunctional and Lilly herself has been bullied and ostracized due to a birthmark disfiguring her face and by her mother’s mysterious past. Due to this history Lilly is not the most sociable of characters, and a great deal of her quest is interacting with other outcasts and somehow befriending them. (While being told that she should not be so trusting of the motives of others, and should not assume that they will keep their end of the bargain. This is foreshadowing.)This was one of those books just interesting enough for me to finish, but not engaging enough for me to say that I liked it. There are some fascinating themes being worked with, and the overall prose is complex and occasionally poetic, but didn’t inspire any strong feelings. I will say I was not very comfortable with some of the “transformations” Lilly undergoes and the ending may make your heart go smash. For me this is more of a book to think about after reading it once, rather than a book I am likely to read over and over.

Sea Change on Amazon

Sea Change on Powell’s Books

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Filed under fairy tale, fantasy, Review: Book, S.M. Wheeler

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