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Sea Change

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  426 ratings  ·  145 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
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 18th 2013 by Tor Books
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Average rating 3.48  · 
Rating details
 ·  426 ratings  ·  145 reviews

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Aug 01, 2013 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
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 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
Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lilly befriends a kraken as a child and this strange friendship results in several grim adventures.

Wow! This is a dark fairy tale, Brothers Grimm style. There are few 'fun' moments and lots of disturbingly dangerous ones. Lilly's life is a hard one that really begins with her leaving her father's home because it's so awful. It only gets worse from there. But Lilly very much learns from her experiences and becomes a stronger person that I really respected by the end. She may not always think thin
Dark Faerie Tales
Aug 15, 2013 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 a ve
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

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

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 06, 2013 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.
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a journey. This book is weird in all the best ways, and left me feeling... Bittersweet. It's a little, weird story with all kinds of things in it that speak to me.

Fans of the writing styles of Ysabeau Wilce and Kelly Link would probably like this book. Hence, I loved it.
Jennifer Wheeler
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 13, 2013 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
Jun 19, 2013 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
Kristen Harvey
Mar 23, 2013 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
Alex McGilvery
May 20, 2013 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
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
Jan 02, 2015 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
A.E. Marling
Jun 18, 2013 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
Jenny (Reading Envy)
May 20, 2013 marked it as did-not-finish
Shelves: netgalley, ebooks
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.
Nov 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Slight spoilers (hints?) inside:

Lyrical and lingering, this book is full of jarring imagery and flavor. I told my sister about it once, and she says she's still haunted by the ending months later. As she hasn't read the book herself, I'd consider this a true victory for the author.
As for me, I'm amazed by the rhythmic prose here, and I'm terribly fond of the skinless witch. All the carnal, gory imagery employed with her was a lot of fun.
Mar 23, 2013 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.

Michael Jones
Apr 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Simply amazing. A beautiful, sophisticated, captivating fairy tale. One of the best books I've read all year. ...more
Jan 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Weird and lovely, and much more complicated than it sounds.
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 rated it liked it
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
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a powerfully strange story. It is magical and takes place in that typical environment of fairy tales where no internal combustion engines roam, and there are witches and spells, but aside from that it is largely atypical of any tale, fairy or otherwise. It does not seem to be allegorical or based on any classic narrative. It is not "the hero's journey" in the sense taught to us by Joseph Campbell although we do have a central protagonist who undertakes an epic task and encounters a labyr ...more
Kathryn Ryder
Sep 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fantastic book, and aptly named for it is full of some unfathomable transformation of Lilly brought upon by the sacrifice and quest to rescue her friend.

My only issue is that I sometimes found the narrative a bit hard to follow, of who was speaking or taking action, so I had to reread sentences and paragraphs a bit.
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful, fun #ownvoices fairytale about a gender-non-conforming noble who will stop at nothing to ensure the safety of her octopus best friend. Especially loved all the skin-suit-related magic. Surely an author to watch!
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Paranormal Romanc...: Giveaway: Sea Change by S.M. Wheeler 2 15 Jul 04, 2013 04:52PM  

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