Monday, July 23, 2012

Sea Magic: The Changeling Sea

The Changeling SeaPatricia McKillip's books always deliver a combination of magic and emotional truth. This means that I'm not always in the mood to pick them up, since emotions are heavy things, and occasionally she doesn't get the balance just right. The cover of The Changeling Sea also deterred me; it looked like a book about a child and her mentor, and I just never had the urge to start that story. So although I clearly bought this book back in California (it's a discard from the San Mateo County Library, one of a half-dozen libraries I frequented when I lived near San Francisco), I hadn't read it until today.
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I also took a bit of a chance, leaving this book until the end of the day so that I read it straight through, instead of putting it down when things got tough, my usual cowardly approach. But it paid off; the story wove magic and love and loss together in a lovely enchantment, much as the sea turned Peri's angry hexes into webs of moonlight and beauty. Despite the cover, the protagonist was a young woman, not a child, who starts off struggling with multiple losses, including a mother who retreats from the sadness of the world. As Peri emerges from her grief we also enter into a world of magic and loss and longing, and she encounters love and friendship and greed and danger.

And, just as in McKinley's The Hero and the Crown, she doesn't insist on limiting herself to a single lover; life has tides and changes, and your heart can weather them. It's a wonderful read, although not the one promised by the cover on my copy. (The cover shown isn't the one I got; it's actually a lot more representative.)

I'll leave this around for the boys, although it doesn't really hit any of their obvious buttons.

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