a charming and satisfying fairytale retelling

It was not finished Peri knew; it [the sea] would wear at this beach, this cliff, until someday the old woman’s house would be underwater.

I have no idea how I came across The Changeling Sea—one day it was just on my bookshelf (probably purchased in one of my many book buying sprees back before kids—when my book budget was unlimited).

No matter how it got there, I’m just glad it did. It’s a charmingly well written changeling fable, a classic fairytale story with a fresh and original twist. 

When Peri was fourteen, her father was lost at sea and her whole life changed—her mother was lost to heartache and she (Peri) had to take care of herself.

Working at the Inn beside the harbour, she often took refuge in the home of the local wise woman who taught her all about magic and enchantments (although none of it ever seemed to work).


She was fidgety and brusque around people then, anyway, and there was nothing in the house to remind her of her parents, both of them lost, one way or another, to the sea. She could sit on the doorstep and listen to the tide and glower at the waves breaking against the great, jagged pillars of rock that stood like two doorposts just at the deep water. They were the only pieces of stone cliff left from some earlier time; the sea had nibbles and stormed and worn at the land, pushed it back relentlessly. It was not finished Peri knew; it would wear at this beach, this cliff, until someday the old woman’s house would be underwater. Nothing was safe. Sometimes she threw things into the sea that she had concocted from the old woman’s spellbindings: things that might, she vaguely hoped, disturb its relentless workings.

Lonely and lost, one day Peri cursed the sea. And then things started to happen!

A sea dragon appeared, fastened by strong gold chains to the bottom of the sea, two handsome young strangers and a wizard intruded on her solitary life—it turned out things were much more complicated than they seemed! But, by keeping her wits and doing her best, perhaps everything could be set right.

With equal parts loneliness and selflessness, plus the right amount of romance and a good deal of magic, The Changeling Sea is a beautiful fantasy tale. Perfect for fairytale lovers aged 14+.

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Book Depository has free postage anywhere in the world and great pricing, but Amazon might be cheaper for North American readers.

by Patricia A. McKillip – Macmillan Publishing Company, 1988
ages 14+  / fantasy, Y.A.