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Sea Change

3.48  ·  Rating Details ·  383 Ratings  ·  135 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 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 ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published May 27th 2014 by Tor Books (first published June 18th 2013)
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**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)
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Mar 06, 2013 Heather marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
There is an except from this book on and it looks amazing! I totally want a sea monster best friend.
Mar 03, 2017 Jennifer rated it it was ok
Shelves: home-library
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 13, 2013 Lexie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 19, 2013 Ren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 23, 2013 Kristen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Alex McGilvery
May 20, 2013 Alex McGilvery rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 02, 2015 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
A.E. Marling
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
Jenny (Reading Envy)
May 20, 2013 Jenny (Reading Envy) marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
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.

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.
Mar 23, 2013 Ellie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.

Jan 17, 2017 Breda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Weird and lovely, and much more complicated than it sounds.
Michael Jones
Apr 06, 2013 Michael Jones rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simply amazing. A beautiful, sophisticated, captivating fairy tale. One of the best books I've read all year.
Mia Searles (The Muses Circle)
This Review and more can be found on my blog: The Muses Circle

My Review: A brave young heroine. An unusual, yet poignant friendship. A harrowing journey of self discovery, perseverance, and how far one would go to save the person they love. Sound intriguing? That doesn't even scratch the surface when trying to describe Sea Change by the extremely talented S.M. Wheeler. However, I am up for the challenge because I have a feeling that for every glowing review there will be some negative ones. Why?
May 12, 2017 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, queer
There was far less kraken in this book than I expected, given the title and the description.

It almost felt as if I were reading one story, only to have it interrupted by another, picking up the first story again only at the very end. The storyline with the witch and the bandits felt fairly disconnected from Octavius's storyline; Lilly barely thought about Octavius during her time there, which was especially odd given she was away for so long--I would have expected her to become increasingly conc
Apr 06, 2013 Tammy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 1/2 Stars

In a word: a harrowing adventure, a determined heroine, an unbreakable friendship, all written in lush and poetic prose.

The thing…was bright red, craggy-skinned, and the size of Father’s fist, which was to say not very large but with a great deal of presence; around it limbs coiled like petals circling a flower’s heart. The water came halfway to the top of its bulbous body. It made kettle noises at her. Good sense rolled right out of her head with the silly thought that adventures sta
Michelle (Undeniably Book Nerdy)
Leslie's Thoughts (originally posted on Michelle & Leslie's Book Picks on 11/2013):
Just like its blurb suggested Sea Change was unlike any fantasy I have ever read. Everything was different: the characters, plot, setting(s), and writing too. Admittedly at times I had to plough through the novel, but overall, Sea Change was a read that I will never forget for it was unique, creative, and adventurous.

Like other reviewers before me may have mentioned in their reviews, I thought the pacing of S
Kristin Taggart
I don't use star ratings, so please read my review!

(Description nicked from B&

“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 hop
Jul 27, 2013 Oliver rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
How does one describe a book such as this? It was very unique, certainly, quite gruesome, beautifully written, a little obscure. True to the Brothers Grimm in its bittersweetness. I was drawn into the book by its lyricism, and I came out of it, I think, liking the things about it that other reviewers seemed to dislike. They are as follows.

The prose - call it purple if you must - turned run-of-the-mill descriptions enchantingly sensual. It gave a whole other dimension to Wheeler's fantasy world,
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
Stephanie  G
Jun 27, 2013 Stephanie G rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lilly lives by the shore with a lordly father and mother who don’t get along. Lilly was born with a birth mark that covers a part of her face, and because if it she is seen as ‘witchy.’ Not having a lot of friends, or anyone to speak to, she finds a little monster being attacked by seagulls by her sea side home as a child. She helps the kraken and the two befriend one another. She names him Octavius. Later, when he disappears and Lilly’s father changes, she sets out on a quest to find her lost f ...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.” 12 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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