Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Book review: Princess of the Wild Swans by Diane Zahler
Twelve-year-old Princess Meriel is the only girl in a family with five older brothers. Her mother died when she was very young, so it has just been Meriel, her brothers, and their father, the King, for as long as she can remember. Then one day her father returns home with a new wife, Lady Orianna. From the start, Meriel hates Lady Orianna. She doesn't trust her, especially after overhearing her argue with her father over the fact that if she has a son, he will never be king with five older brothers. The next day, when Meriel wakes up, her brothers are all gone. Lady Orianna says they have been sent away to school, but Meriel doesn't believe her.
Meriel is determined to find out the truth, but when she does, it is more awful than she ever could have imagined. Lady Orianna is a witch, and has cursed Meriel's brothers, transforming them all into swans. Meriel is the only one who can break the curse, but the task will be difficult. And she is running out of time, for it will soon be winter, and then her brothers will have to fly to a warmer land or they will die from the cold.
I was really looking forward to reading this book, since I enjoyed Diane Zahler's previous two fairy tale retellings, The Thirteenth Princess and A True Princess. I was not disappointed and enjoyed Princess of the Wild Swans as much as the previous two books. One of the things I really like about this author's books is that even though they are all set in magical lands, the settings are inspired by real places and cultures, and along with the traditional fairy tale stories she retells, she mixes in folklore and mythology from those places. The setting for this book reads like a fairy tale version of medieval Ireland, due to the Celtic names and folklore. I think readers who enjoyed Diane Zahler's previous books, or who enjoy fairy tale retellings or historical fantasy, would enjoy this book.
Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher.