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Sea Change

3.48  ·  Rating Details  ·  358 Ratings  ·  128 Reviews
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 ofthe 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 ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 18th 2013 by Tor Books
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Aug 23, 2013 Amanda rated it it was ok
**I received a free copy of Sea Change from Tor in exchange for an honest review.**

A fantasy bildungsroman, Sea Change follows the isolated, lonely and headstrong protagonist, Lilly, as she explores the limits of friendship. Born into a prosperous house to parents who fight as fiercely as they once loved, Lilly is a disappointment to her father because she is not the male heir for whom he hoped and the birthmark that blemishes half of her face ostracizes her from the townspeople who fear she is
Tabitha (Pabkins)
Feb 09, 2014 Tabitha (Pabkins) rated it it was amazing
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! Tho ...more
Many thanks to Macmillan-Tor/Forge for the galley copy (via NetGalley)

A lonely eight-year-old girl named Lilly encounters a young kraken on the shore and decides to name it Octavius. Their friendship has a negative correlation to her relationship with her parents: as she and Octavius grow closer, Lilly is distanced from her family, especially her father. Years later, when Octavius is captured and sold to a circus master, Lilly embarks on a journey to save her dearest friend, a quest that will tr
Jul 21, 2013 Brendan rated it it was amazing
I won an ARC from Bargain!
This is a dark, weird book that is unlike anything else I've read. I think the closest I can come to a comparison is some of the short fiction of Caitlin Kiernan. I stayed up late finishing it, and I love me some sleep. In the end, this is a book about love and friendship that raises a lot of thorny moral questions it doesn't answer. It's immersive while you're reading it and gives you a lot to chew on afterward. So, yeah, basically it's brilliant. But not nec
Dark Faerie Tales
Aug 15, 2013 Dark Faerie Tales rated it it was ok
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales.

Quick & Dirty: This had a refreshing new idea, but the writing style was confusing and the story was just too slow paced for me.

Opening Sentence: Acid flowed at the table more often than wine and had long since ceased to cause Lilly alarm; her attention remained on the soup even as Father asked, “Does the thought of me still pain your head, love?”

The Review:

Lilly is the daughter of a very rich merchant, and has been spoiled her whole life. Her mother is

Brought to you by OBS reviewer Valerie

Sea Change is probably one of the most disturbing books I’ve ever read. I don’t think it can be classified as fantasy unless it’s “fantasize about disturbing things we do for friendship.” Honestly, I was horrified as I read through Sea Change, but hey, at least I finished it!

It’s gory, creepy, scary, disgusting, and yet amazingly addicting at the same time. I felt pretty disgusted at the plot; you won’t believe what Li
Jan 02, 2015 Melissa rated it really liked it
I can understand why there are such mixed reviews of this book. While it seems to fall within certain genres and tropes (fairy tale, fantasy, quest), it (like its mercurial genderqueer protagonist) doesn't ever conform fully to any of them. Maybe this book just happened to be what I needed at the the time or maybe it's that I'm so relieved the writer didn't resort to other, nastier (sexist, racist, homophobic) tropes for edginess or resolution. The book is very dark in its themes and storylines ...more
Mar 06, 2013 Heather marked it as to-read
There is an except from this book on and it looks amazing! I totally want a sea monster best friend.
I found this book utterly charming. The roles of gender, friendship, and family are used are so wonderfully nuanced and rich, and I think that those are the strongest aspects of the book. I know others have expressed dislike for the writing style, but I felt like that -- in addition to the (also critiqued) plethora of characters that aren't around for as long of a time as they would be in other books -- really emphasized this story as fairy tale-esque, which I found perfectly fitting. The growth ...more
Jun 19, 2013 Ren rated it it was amazing
If you are a fan of fantasy and want a read that stands out from the crowd, you are in luck: Sea Change is a quirky, captivating, poetically penned "fairytale for grown-ups." Featuring a host of fantastical characters who nonetheless maintain a gritty sense of realism, the story is a touching tale of friendship between two unlikely companions: a gentle-natured kraken, and a socially isolated girl. A dark and unflinching narrative unfolds with the help of skillful word craft that is a style all W ...more
Jul 18, 2013 Lexie rated it liked it
I have to be honest I was so apprehensive to start reading Sea Change because our main character Lilly is so young. I usually try to read books where the characters are closer to my age range. Because I find that I connect more personally with characters that are closer to my age. But after reading the first chapter of Sea Change I knew I would have no problems with the age difference. Sea Change is about Lilly's relationship with a kraken named Octavius. Lilly forms a very close bond with the k ...more
Alex McGilvery
May 20, 2013 Alex McGilvery rated it did not like it
Sea Change is the story of Lilly, a girl with a birthmark on her face. She is the daughter of a trader who has become nobility, but the birthmark keeps her isolated as the people of the village think she is a witch. Her only friend is Octavius, a kraken. When Octavius is captured and sold to a circus, Lilly sets out to free him. What follows is a sequential quest. At each stage of her quest some other deed or article is demanded of her.

I struggled with this book from the beginning. Occasional pa
Van (Short & Sweet Reviews)
3 1/2 stars.

SEA CHANGE is not your typical children’s’ fairytale. Upon reading the synopsis for the book, I was expecting a much tame happy-ever-after type of book. Let me tell you, I was surprised to find out that SEA CHANGE is more The Brothers Grimm than sugar coated Disney. The story started out pretty simple, a girl name Lily is mistreated by her evil parents but finds happiness and comfort in her friend Octavius who happens to be a kraken (yes folks, the sea monster). Octavius, Lily’s only
Jun 21, 2013 Kristen rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult, fairy-tales, e-book
Lilly is a strange child, caring more about her friend the kraken than her parents, who bicker constantly. The day her mother leaves, she knows that it will soon be time for her to leave as well. Her father never wanted a daughter, especially not one who has a birthmark on her face. When he remarries, she finds herself ready to leave, to be replaced by another child. What she wasn't expecting was for her friend to go missing, Octavius the kraken seems to have vanished, so Lilly sets out on a jou ...more
A.E. Marling
Jun 18, 2013 A.E. Marling added it
Shelves: fantasy
If a sea monster reading you grisly fairy tales sounds like a great idea, you may love Sea Change by S.M. Wheeler.

Once upon a time, a girl named Lilly was born with a port-wine-stain birthmark. Had this smear of red been on her ankle she might have led a normal life. Instead people called her a demon, a witch child, because half her face crawled with a bloody splotch.

Superstition treats no one kindly, but even if Lilly had lived in our world she might have felt dominated by a few inches of skin
i am really torn on this book. i loved the beginning with the dynamics between Lilly's parents, how she was treated by them, and her close friendship with Octavius. but then Octavius is stolen and my favorite part of the book was gone. while the middle section is still pretty good, i also loved Horace and Ms. Gottschalk(she is one literature's creepiest inventions!), i was always wishing Octavius was present. i also dug the genderbending twist. i was totally not expecting it and was like "woaah, ...more
Apr 06, 2014 Lindsey rated it it was amazing
Sea Change is a delightfully written coming-of-age fairy tale, but the old school kind of fairy tale in which there is not really a happy ending and although everyone learns something about his or herself, no one is really better off than they were at the beginning of the story. What I’m trying to say is, this is my kind of fairy tale.

I finally got around to borrowing Sea Change from the library a few weeks ago. I greatly appreciate Wheeler’s writing style and I enjoyed the flow of story. Lilly,
Jenny (Reading Envy)
May 26, 2013 Jenny (Reading Envy) marked it as abandoned
Shelves: ebooks, netgalley
Not really my thing... At first it seemed like a love story between a kraken and a birthmarked girl, but then it turned into a quest with witches, spells, and bandits, and I felt less interested. Although I wasn't interested in the other direction I thought it was going either, because consummating that particular relationship would just be awkward. Imagine the offspring....

I skimmed through to the end and was not unhappy that I quit after halfway.
Aug 01, 2015 Emily rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
Unfortunately I couldn't find a way into this writing style. It seemed very stilted, with very little context marking transitions between speakers or scenes, and there was a lot happening in terms of body language and backstory between characters that wasn't made clear enough to follow. I put this down after the first 50 pages with regret, it is an interesting premise. I'm also not quite sure how the kraken can just move around on land whenever he wants. You know, ok, fantasy and suspension of d ...more
Things I Like:

Fairytale structure: The structure of this book, specifically the casual incorporation of magical elements (a talking Kraken, Serpents etc.) and the quest format was really enjoyable and felt fresh at the same time that is calls on nostalgia from my youth. This fairytale format creates a timeless quality for the characters; simultaneously freeing them from the restrictions of the more common narrative and making them more like archetypes and less like characters you can get familia
Mar 27, 2014 Ruth rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own, ebooks
Sea Change is a story of friendship and coming of age, and as its title implies, its central characters undergo a series of profound transformations. Although this is not a retelling of a fairy tale, it has the elements of one - a quest, trolls, witches, bandits, sentient animals, and magical bargains - and like classic fairy tales, it is incredibly dark. The main character, Lilly, is willing to give up anything to rescue her friend Octavius, a kraken who has vanished from the beach where they u ...more
Anne Trueblood
Apr 24, 2015 Anne Trueblood rated it it was amazing
Sea Change is achingly good, true to its fairy-tale origins. Achingly good because I enjoyed it, despite the frustration and angst as I became invested in the protagonist's quest. The characters never have an ending--happy or not--and instead face the chaotic world, hitting highs and lows along the way. The pacing itself was a mix of lulls and surges, but I found it engaging. Each part of the story was dwelt on exactly as long or as short as necessary.
I loved how understated the queerdom is. I l

This book was beautiful, one of the best things I've read this year, and hauntingly stuck in my head. The prose was lyrical, the premise fantastically unique, and the ending gnawingly raw. Wheeler played with fairy tale themes in a way that feels familiar while introducing tales that were entirely original. I can't recommend it enough.
Jun 17, 2013 Ellie rated it did not like it
Shelves: book-revels, arc, dnf, kindle
Overall impression:
Sea Change doesn’t lack in creativity, but it fails to provide any real emotion, causing me to put it down before finishing.

Read the full review on Book Revels.

Feb 02, 2016 Alisha rated it really liked it
Beautiful writing style, so poetic. One of the saddest, depressing and yet alluring books I've read in quite some time. The misfortune that falls upon the lead is heartbreaking and makes you wonder when it will end for this poor girl. For me it made me think about how often times people say things like "it will get better" or "things will work out." This is true, sometimes but we also have to accept the fact that perhaps they won't work out and really we should be accepting of that fact instead ...more
Michael Jones
Apr 06, 2013 Michael Jones rated it it was amazing
Simply amazing. A beautiful, sophisticated, captivating fairy tale. One of the best books I've read all year.
Apr 27, 2014 LordOfDorkness rated it really liked it
Thoughtful, heartfelt, creative. This is a book whose characters and human drama are aided by but not subservient to its fantastic elements. In other words, there may be witches, Krakkens, Elf Queens and magic coats, but they exist in a world built on loving but fallible people. It's rare to find writing of such emotionally density and quality -the latter both on a sentence by sentence basis as well as the scope of the book as a whole. It is a strange, beautiful and bittersweet book, and you sho ...more
This was a letdown for me. It couldn't seem to make up its mind what or when it wanted to be. The narrative voice seemed to be aiming for the timelessness of fairytale, but then there would be these very specific real-world things, like Lilly's mention of waltzing. But the waltz wasn't seen among the upper classes in continental Europe until the late eighteenth century, and wasn't accepted in England until the Regency period of the early nineteenth. All of which feels entirely TOO modern for thi ...more
Michelle Terry
Dec 15, 2014 Michelle Terry rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
Parts of this book were very creative. The premise, A Girl and Her Kraken, was what piqued my interest in the first place. The opening, with the author's descriptions of the Kraken itself and the sea, was captivating. But it got really brutal pretty fast. The obstacles Lilly had to overcome were also original and creative, but were pretty horrifying. Now I shouldn't give a book 2 stars just because it was a sad story, but I had other issues too. The prose was a bit hard to understand at times. I ...more
Aug 05, 2014 April rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads, 2014
There were many ups and downs for me when it came to this particular book. I had a very difficult time getting the book started as the beginning just started to feel tedious at points and some of the events didn't seem to make much of a difference in the story so I wasn't really sure why they were even included. For example, the time that Lilly and Octavious went to the town to watch what was supposed to be pagans and dark rites that turned out to be a regular village type of celebration. I wasn ...more
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Paranormal Romanc...: Giveaway: Sea Change by S.M. Wheeler 2 15 Jul 04, 2013 04:52PM  
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“I would parade you in the hall of the monarchs of the ocean if you could breathe water.” 10 likes
“You tell me that the future is choice and the present is a starting point. ...Why assume that the present will not give you better choices?” 2 likes
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