Review: Sea Change by S.M. Wheeler

February 10, 2014 4.5 stars, Book Review 17 ★★★★½

Sea Change

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.

Peculiar in the most exceptional way! Sea Change captured me with its unique and old world style narrative. What do I mean by “old world” exactly? – imagine how it is to read any of the classics and that would come close to the feeling of this book except everything was mystical, magical and not a bit too unusual. Taking that into consideration this wasn’t a book I could devour in one sitting but instead has to move thru at a leisurely pace. Also, be aware there are no chapters in this book! Though sections are separated by a short italicized paragraph, so there are still convenient stopping points.

We first meet Lilly at the tender age of 8, she is the only daughter of quarrelsome and not exactly living parents. Let’s call them indifferent. Due to a large birthmark on her face she is viewed by everyone as a cursed child and a witch. She is spurned by almost everyone, until one day I the beach she befriends a small kraken, Octavius. We see the friendship between these two grow stronger with each passing year until when Lilly comes off age, he disappears and she knows something terrible must have happened to keep Octavius from her.

Lilly sets off on a harrowing journey the likes of which readers may have experienced before. Her quest to save her friend leads her to meeting one strange character after another. Each encounter testing her resolve to save her friend as each person asks something of her. Fantasy readers will recognize this quest, sub quest model and appreciate it. Undoubtedly, Lilly’s fortitude and strength of will is nothing short of admirable and awe inspiring in my mind. Any person would count themselves fortunate to have such a loyal friend as she.

I can only say that the books description is very adequate in preparing the prospective reader for what they can expect to encounter but at the same time that couldn’t be further from the truth. It is not often that a book can elicit from me such a great range of emotion and I am all the luckier for it for deciding to read Sea Change. Be aware this work is literary fantasy is not for everyone, nor the faint of heart. While Lilly is a young girl embarking on a quest and coming of age story I would in no way consider this a young adult book. Also, I remember originally thinking when receiving this book that the cover design was such a strange choice, but it fit so perfectly by the end of my reading.

Sea Change is a book I will absolutely read again someday, because I know there are things that I would be better absorbed on a second pass thru. I can say this is adult fantasy at its best, and worth giving a chance. You can expect a not quite fairytale of a darkly delicious kind such as the original Grimm’s tales.

FYI, I just learned there is going to be a second book!

Come back on Friday, Feb 14th to read a guest post from S.M. Wheeler talking about Friendships with Monsters!

Sea Change (#1)

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• This book was provided by the publisher for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. Please note that this post also contains affiliate links. View my  full Blog Policy

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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17 Responses to “Review: Sea Change by S.M. Wheeler”

  1. Melliane

    I agree with you it’s a complex story. It was really interesting to learn about everything but I’m still not sure I understood everything.

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      That is exactly it! I know there will be things I’ll catch the second time around that flew over or past me this time. Not something for everyone but sometimes I think the best kinds of books are like that. Thanks Kimba!

  2. Tammy

    I loved this book and I got to meet the author at Comic Con. She was lovely! I’m so happy about a second book, but I wonder what direction it’s going. It felt like this one wrapped things up?
    Tammy recently posted…Stacking the Shelves (48)My Profile

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Agreed. So hopefully it’ll be possible for folks to read as a stand alone. I think more books should be like that if they use the same characters and world.

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      They seriously are very underrepresented! You know I haven’t read that one of Christopher’s. I think it’s on my shelf though. I also recently picked up Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters – though I don’t know if I’ll read it anytime soon.

      Oh there was one in Quintessence but you know it was such a short bit with one that I was disappointed cause from the book descrip I thought there would be more.

      This one I think you would appreciate for it’s uniqueness!

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Definitely yes you must. I’d be curious to see how you’d end up liking it because I noticed after I posted my review that it seems people either loved it or didn’t like it.