Early 5bat! Review: Sea Change by S. M. Wheeler

June 15, 2013 Review 4

Early 5bat! Review: Sea Change by S. M. WheelerSea Change by S. M. Wheeler
Published by Tor on June 18, 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Historical
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 304
Source: NetGalley
Excerpt: Excerpt
Book Trailer: Trailer
Sexual Content: Kissing, references to sex, an attempted rape.
Reviewed by: Julia
5 Stars

The unhappy child of two powerful parents who despise each other, young Lilly turns to the ocean to find solace, which she finds in the form of the eloquent and intelligent sea monster Octavius, a kraken. In Octavius’s many arms, Lilly learns of friendship, loyalty, and family. When Octavius, forbidden by Lilly to harm humans, is captured by seafaring traders and sold to a circus, Lilly becomes his only hope for salvation. Desperate to find him, she strikes a bargain with a witch that carries a shocking price.

Her journey to win Octavius’s freedom is difficult. The circus master wants a Coat of Illusions; the Coat tailor wants her undead husband back from a witch; the witch wants her skin back from two bandits; the bandits just want some company, but they might kill her first. Lilly's quest tests her resolve, tries her patience, and leaves her transformed in every way.

A powerfully written debut from a young fantasy author, Sea Change is an exhilarating tale of adventure, resilience, and selflessness in the name of friendship.

SEA CHANGE takes the alien brutality of Grimm's tales, washes them smooth and small with the hush of the sea, and transmutes the familiar pieces of magic and friendship, villainy and madness, love and happily ever after into something altogether new. Haunting, heart wrenching, and beautiful, SEA CHANGE is a book I won't soon forget... or entirely understand.

The story opens with a young Lilly and Octavius, human and kraken, each sharing glimpses of their own worlds with their best friend. Just as any young children try to decode the lives and strange rules of the adults around them, they each trade stories about land and sea. Spying on a village at Midsummer Festival or watching merpeople kill and devour their prey, to this young pair it all seems exotic. To a fantasy reader, both sides of the exchange will have their familiar elements, but all of it takes on a new and alien beauty when viewed through the smokey sea glass of Wheeler's prose. Like our own world, SEA CHANGE can be both beautiful and terrible, and the characters around Lilly are as mysterious and nuanced and broken as any true adult.

I am not a fan of sad endings in books, especially when I feel I've emotionally suffered alongside the characters for no reason. Though SEA CHANGE is dark and realistic, though wounds don't miraculously heal and true sacrifices are made, it also offers a sense of beauty and truth. It hurts when something precious is lost, but the act of loving it in the first place is its own kind of gift. Not a book for children, but rather, a book that reminds adults of the pain and beauty of being a child.  Wheeler tempted me to fall in love, to feel once more the youthful, pure passion of a childhood best friend, and that gift is worth all the growing pains in the world.

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4 Responses to “Early 5bat! Review: Sea Change by S. M. Wheeler”

  1. Bibliotropic

    I’d almost forgotten that I have a copy of this book! The premise intrigued me when I read the synopsis, and although I haven’t yet read it, I think I ought to make the time for it soon. Seeing this review reminded me of it. Thanks!

  2. Mina

    I so have to get this book! Thanks for the review – and did anyone ever tell you that your prose sometimes is as wonderful to read as the books you write about?
    Well if not, I do now: beautifully written!

    • Julia

      Mina, you totally made my day. I was worried that I had given in to my inner teenager by gushing on about this book. You’ve done my self-esteem a world of good by letting me know it was worth the read, thanks!

  3. Julia

    Cool, I love it when I ‘re-discover’ a book on my TBR pile. Enjoy!