Book reviews Book reviews
The Changeling Sea (1988) is a small book with a rich large story in it. Peri lives her life by the sea, working at an inn cleaning on her hands and knees. The sea has taken her fisherman father in body, and has taken her mother in spirit. So Peri decides to curse the sea without believing her cursing will do anything. But it does in a most strange way.

Into Peri's life comes a prince yearning for a kingdom under a waves, a sea dragon wanting to find friends, and a wizard who will change her life. The book gently but surely intertwines romance and magic and anger and human weakness. There are no villains here, only the mistakes people make and live with and their consequences.

McKillip's writing needs to be slowly savoured and digested. Nuances will be missed by skimming through (I'm afraid I often read too quickly!) There's a lot happening beneath the surface of the writing as there is a lot happening beneath the sea inside the story.

To some extent there is a dualism between sea and land in the book. To some extent it isn't the sea which has bewitched the characters, but the characters which have bewitched the sea. So this variant of mythological tales about those who visit kingdoms beneath the sea is not as simple as it may seem. There are rich depths below the surface of "The Changeling Sea".