Darkness has fallen across a kingdom far, far away. The queen is dead – killed in the forest by a terrifying beast – and her daughter, Alexandra, suspects that the new woman in her father’s life is more than she seems. Exiled and betrayed, Alexandra must face magic, murder and the loss of all she holds dear in a desperate struggle against evil.
Whilst I’m aware of a number of fairytale retellings within the YA market I hadn’t got round to reading one until I read The Swan Kingdom. It is a retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Wild Swans, a story I only vaguely remembered from my childhood.
The story is narrated by Alexandra, a princess who has always felt unloved by her father, but who has thrived on the love and attention of her mother and her brothers. Straight away we start to realise that there is something special about Alexandra’s mother, and that Alexandra too shares this. When her mother is killed Alexandra has to cope first with her loss, and then with her father’s speedy new marriage. Everything rapidly comes to a head (because yes, things can get worse than your mother dying and your father remarrying quickly) and Alexandra finds herself banished and alone, and trying to find a way to right all of the wrongs that have happened.
I loved Alexandra, I thought she was a wonderful character and I felt completely invested in her story. One of the things that initially grabbed me about the book was the relationship she had with her brothers, the dynamic between them reminded me quite a bit of how me and my brother got on when we were younger. I could completely understand the lengths she was prepared to go to for them, I’d like to think I’d be strong enough to do the same in her situation.
The other characters were great too, I liked Gabriel instantly and then the more I got to know him the more I liked him. Whilst Zella is the villain of the piece I thought she was a great character, she was so believably evil and dislikeable.
I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough when I was reading this, I got completely and utterly wrapped up in the wonderful world contained within the book. It’s written in such a beautifully descriptive manner, at times I almost felt like I had fallen inside the pages.
I really loved this book and will be recommending it to people for a long time to come.
The Swan Kingdom is published in paperback by Walker in the UK priced £5.99.