Friday, November 13, 2009

[Review]--- "The Swan Kingdom"

Title: The Swan Kingdom Author: Zoe Marriott Publisher: Candlewick Press Publication Date: March 2008 Pages: 253 Genre: Teen Fantasy, Magic Summary (B&N):

A new voice in fantasy weaves a rich, entrancing tale of a girl with powerful healing gifts —- and the courage to use them to save her ailing kingdom.

Shadows fall across the beautiful, lush kingdom after the queen is attacked by an unnatural beast, and the healing skills of her daughter, Alexandra, cannot save her. Too soon the widowed king is spellbound by a frightening stranger, a woman whose eyes reflect no light. In a terrifying moment, all Alexandra knows disappears, including her beloved brothers, leaving her banished to a barren land. But Alexandra has more gifts than she realizes as she confronts magic, murder, and the strongest of evil forces, and is unflinchingly brave as she struggles to reclaim what is rightfully hers. Fantasy lovers will be held in thrall by this tale full of visual detail, peppered with a formidable destructive force and sweetened with familial and romantic love.

Places to Order The Swan Kingdom from:
My Review:

Besides the beautiful cover art, The Swan Kingdom itself was a dazzling story, a remake of a fairy tale but done in Marriott's own way. Full of magic, set in a fantasy world that you can practically picture just by reading the book, and with an added dose of action and adventure to keep the story alive, this book is truly worth your time to read.

Marriott does a wonderful job with the characters, especially Alexandra , our heroine for this journey through the Kingdom. is a good example of a strong young woman, one that does not whine and allow others to push her around. She's got courage, and she's not afraid to face her fears-- even if that means her new (evil) stepmother. In a way, Alexandra reminds me a lot of Yelena, from Poison Study (by Maria V. Snyder), which is a compliment, really. If you enjoyed Snyders' magical world, then I'm sure you'll love The Swan Kingdom as well.

I enjoy reading new takes on old fairy tales, and this one is no different. This time, the base for the novel is the story of the young boys, turned into swans by their stepmother, destined to stay cursed forever. Unless, of course, Alexandra , who was spared this curse (though still exiled from the kingdom), can save them and reverse the spell. Along the way, she meets new friends, finds more adventures, and, of course, falls in love, too.

My only qualm lies in the romance- it felt a bit lacking most of the time, even for a YA novel. I wish Marriott had added more to this, showed us how they really fell for each other.

The story flowed nicely, though there were a few action sequences where I almost felt a bit lost. But just as quickly, the confusion was gone and the writing was clear again. A few tiny flaws, but no where near enough to destroy the story or the readers' enjoyment!

4 STARS! For a first novel, Zoe Marriott did a wonderful job, and I'm looking forward to many future books from her. She has a talent for writing, and a unique story to tell the readers. Added to that her good fortune in cover art designs, and you've got a rising start to keep your eyes on!

~~~

Thanks to The Shady Glade, whom I won this book from during the contest last month!

~~~

P.S.: The cover I used on here is the UK cover, which is the edition I won from Shady Glade's blog contest. I have to say, after seeing the US covers for Marriott's books, I was glad I was lucky enough to receive the UK ones. In my opinion, they're much prettier! And come on-- be honest, we all go for new books based (partly at least) on the covers!

Oh, and I know that it's been a flood of YA books I've been reviewing lately-- it's just that's what I've been receiving for review purposes, and since I put those books above my own (bought) ones for reviews on here.... However, I promise that as soon as possible I'll go back to more of a variety mix for reviews! I'm hoping that you're still enjoying the reviews, and finding new books to check out-- especially if YA is not your usual genre of choice. :) Isn't that the point of a good review and blog, to help you venture outside your normal? Enjoy! Until Next Time,

4 comments :

  1. It sounds very interesting and I was going to add it to my TBR pile after I read the overview, but as soon as I saw that the FMC reminded you of Yelena, I was sold. Definitly going to read this book soon. Great review!

    ~Lindsay
    JABA

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  2. This sounds wonderful - with that strong heroine, this is definitely a fantasy.....

    Fair tales are so male dominated...

    I went and had a look at the covers and I have to agree - this one is better...

    E.H>

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  3. Lindsay--
    Oh, believe me, I really liked it! And Marriott's other book, 'Daughter of the Flames' (review coming in a few days) is even better! You won't regret reading either one, I'm sure!


    E.H.--- You know, most of the time, I find the European covers (and other countries' as well, on occasion) to be the least appealing of the options, but in this case, I have to go say the U.S. takes the honor for these two books. Nothing wrong with the State's covers, but I like the UK better. Much more fantasy/other worldly looking, and it reminds you of magic right off the bat! :D


    Enjoy,
    TBQ

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  4. I'm so glad that I have this book in my collection (with another cover). I thought it was a wonderful story with a very nice heroin :) Nice review!

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