Friday, December 14, 2018

Review: The Flight of Swans by Sarah McGuire


Princess Andaryn's six older brothers have always been her protectors—until her father takes a new Queen, a frightening, mysterious woman who enchants the men in the royal family. When Ryn's attempt to break the enchantment fails, she makes a bargain: the Queen will spare her brothers' lives if Ryn remains silent for six years.

Ryn thinks she freed her brothers, but she never thought the Queen would turn her brothers into swans. And she never thought she'd have to undo the Queen's spell alone, without speaking.

I have mentioned, once or twice or six times, that I love a good fairy tale rewrite, haven't I? And this is definitely one of the good ones!

Andaryn is a wonderful heroine. Honest in her emotions, sometimes on the brink of despair, but fierce in her loyalty to her brothers and her love for her father. McGuire had a difficult task in creating distinct personalities for the six brothers, given that we only see them briefly every full moon. She manages this in part with Andalyn's memories, and through her imagining conversations with her brothers. 

But oooh, are they infuriating! While we watch Andalyn age from 12 to 18, facing numerous struggles and perils, to them mere days have passed and she is still their silly baby sister. Andalyn has no words to set them straight, but I hurled a few at the pages from time to time on her behalf!

As a fairy tale addict in my younger years, I was quite familiar with the original tale of the Six Swans, and was pleased to see the story follow closely along - with exception of the versions I always hated, where she gave birth to several children that the witch either spirited away or killed. In this version there is a child, but...

Wait, don't want to give too much away! Suffice it to say that purists will be satisfied, while those wanting more flesh to their stories will be well-pleased with this retelling. Highly relatable main character, wide range of emotions, mystery and danger, and no slow plodding sections. Of interest to upper elementary on up.

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