Saturday, May 12, 2012

Princess of the Wild Swans by Diane Zahler
212 pgs.
age 8-12
Rating: Wizard

Synopsis from inside front cover
"Princess Meriel's brothers have been cursed. A terrible enchantmnt -- cast by their conniving new stepmother -- has transformed the handsome princes into swans. They now swim forlornly on a beautiful heart-shaped lake that lies just beyond the castle walls.
      Meriel will do whatever it takes to rescue her beloved brothers. But she must act quickly. If Heart Lake freezes, her brothers will be forced to fly south or perish.
      With help from her newfound friends Riona and Liam -- a pretty half-witch and her clever brother-- Meriel vows to finish a seemingly impossible task. If she completes it, her brothers may be saved.

But if she fails...
all will be lost."

I thoroughly enjoyed this rendition of the Grimm fairytale, The Seven Brothers. Meriel is a strong heroine whose love and fierce loyalty to her family drives her to finish the painful task of sewing shirts of cloth spun from the prickly nettles. Even though the brothers spend most of the story as swans, their individual traits are clearly drawn and easily transferred to swan form. The new queen, Lady Orianna,  is deliciously wicked and brings a new twist to the tale by using her power over the king to open the portal between the human and fairy world. I liked how the threat of a winter freezing placed a deadline on Meriel's task. I especially loved how the town stood by the royal family and helped them defeat Orianna in the end. Granted Meriel couldn't be helped in the task of sewing the shirts to save her brothers, but she did get help in other ways which shows that a ruler who is fair, just and genuinely cares for his/her people is rewarded with loyalty. There is a touch of romantic interest between Meriel and Rionna's brother, Liam. This book is short but packed with adventure, peril and heroism. Fans of fairytale retellings will eat this book up. 

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