There’s nothing quite like opening up a new book and sensing that you’ve just dived headfirst into a fairytale, yet this is exactly the feeling you get from Katharine and Elizabeth Corr’s A Throne of Swans.
This exciting YA novel is loosely based on the tale of Swan Lake; set in a rich and detailed fantasy world, it follows the story of Aderyn of Atratys, a courageous yet naïve eighteen-year-old who, after her father’s death, becomes the Protector of an entire dominion. Aderyn has a problem, though, for this is a world where nobles can physically change their shape—and transform into birds. This power has run in Aderyn’s family for generations, but, ever since Aderyn’s mother was brutally murdered in front of her, Aderyn has been unable to transform. She hasn’t flown in years, and the flightless of this world cannot rule a dominion. They aren’t deemed worthy to rule, which means Aderyn must hide her secret, even as she takes the first steps towards what quickly becomes an exhilarating, political adventure that sees Aderyn struggling to protect her home, even as she comes to understand more about who she really is.
‘I’m going to court, Lancelin.’ I don’t intend to explain myself to him. To try to make it clear why, after all these years, my hunger to know the truth about my mother’s death still rages unabated. Or why I think I’ll find that truth at the Silver Citadel. But, as he gazes at me from his slightly hooded eyes, I decide he probably understands.A Throne of Swans | Chapter One
I picked up A Throne of Swans after a month-long reading slump, desperate for a book that would pull me back into the world of reading. Never have I been more delighted with my choice of books; although this is a novel that is a little slow to “get going” at times, when it does go, it doesn’t stop—it pulls you right into its exciting world of politics, love, power, and passion, and it doesn’t let go. It exceeds all reasonable expectations and goes further still. There is betrayal, political intrigue, and heart-wrenching scenes of loss and love. Katharine and Elizabeth Corr have honed in on the story of Swan Lake enough to draw out a fascinating reality where the nobles can fly and where the flightless are treated as second-class citizens. Yet although Odette, the female protagonist of Swan Lake, does feature in A Throne of Swans, this is not her story. This is Aderyn’s story, and she certainly makes it her own. Her unique personality is conveyed throughout the novel, making it a unique story rather than a retelling.
I enjoyed reading this book so much that I almost don’t want to admit that it wasn’t perfect, but it did have a couple of issues—namely, the writing, which was a little unpolished at times, and some of the romance scenes, which were arguably a bit predictable. Honestly, though, these problems barely bothered me. I’ve always said that one of the best ways to evaluate a book’s success is to think about the emotions it stirs in you, and, if there is one thing that A Throne of Swans does do perfectly, it is this. Open yourself up to this adventure and you will not be disappointed. This is a novel that will make you gasp aloud and berate anyone who is foolish enough to disturb you while you’re reading. It is intense, occasionally brutal, and, if nothing else, A Throne of Swans is truly magical.
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