Sea Change

Tor Books

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 hope for salvation. Desperate to find him, she strikes a bargain with a witch that carries a shocking price.

Her journey to win Octavius’s freedom is difficult. The circus master wants a Coat of Illusions; the Coat tailor wants her undead husband back from a witch; the witch wants her skin back from two bandits; the bandits just want some company, but they might kill her first. Lilly's quest tests her resolve, tries her patience, and leaves her transformed in every way.

A powerfully written debut from a young fantasy author, S.M. Wheeler's Sea Change is an exhilarating tale of adventure, resilience, and selflessness in the name of friendship.

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Read an Excerpt


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?”

Cool, Mother replied, “I fear I am coming down with some strange illness, for I suffer still. I should go to the baths and—”

His habit was to swallow such lies with a drought of the liquor at hand, but tonight the bottle had been emptied already. “And by what means will you have a child of mine while resting there?” He laughed,




  • Sea Change by S. M. Wheeler

    Check out the book trailer for Sea Change, a powerfully written debut from a young fantasy author.



Praise for Sea Change

“This debut novel begins in a hushed voice, then, slowly, the beauty of Wheeler’s writing, the beguiling character of Lilly, and the tale’s deeply complicated revisions and distortions concerning sex and gender reach utterly absorbing heights. Wheeler’s truly original, fanciful, and transformative story will delight fantasy lovers of all types, as well as those readers attached to coming-of-age narratives and feminist SF.”
Library Journal (starred review)

“Wheeler's stunning debut is a sophisticated fantasy whose lush descriptions, lyrical dialogue, and engaging structure are reminiscent of the very best fairy tales... This profoundly beautifuly evolution of fairy tale elements will have readers eagerly awaiting Wheeler's next book.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review)


“Takes the alien brutality of Grimm’s tales...and transmutes the familiar pieces of magic and friendship, villainy and madness, love and happily ever after into something altogether new. Haunting, heart wrenching, and beautiful.”
All Things Urban Fantasy (5 Bat Review)


“A weird, operatic coming-of-age fantasy streaked with sexuality, pain and heroism.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Sea Change is the very best kind of fairy tale: sharp, shimmering, thorny, and true. A beautiful debut about monsters, friendship, and the blurry lines between.”

—Tina Connolly, author of Ironskin


“A harrowing fairy tale of loss, sacrifice, and growth.”

—Max Gladstone, author of Three Parts Dead




Reviews from Goodreads



  • S.M. Wheeler lives in California. Sea Change is her first novel.





    Available Formats and Book Details

    Sea Change

    James Tiptree, Jr. Award Honor List


    Tor Books