Title: Princess of the Wild Swans
Author: Diane Zahler
Publisher: Harper Collins
May Contain Spoilers
Princess Meriel’s brothers have been cursed. A terrible enchantment–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 read and enjoyed The Thirteenth Princess, so I was curious to see if I would like Princess of the Wild Swans as well. The fairy tale that this book is based on has never been a favorite, and I wondered how I would feel about Diane Zahler’s reimagined version. I liked it! A lot! The characters, once again, are what made the story, as well as the urgency of Meriel’s task. If she doesn’t find a way to save her brothers soon, winter will set in and they will have to fly to a warmer climate. Since it is autumn, that doesn’t leave her much time to come up with a solution! To make matters worse, there isn’t anyone for her to confide in, because everyone seems to have succumbed to the evil Lady Orianna’s enchantments.
Diane Zahler’s princess protagonists make these stories for me. They are kind and concerned, and though they might be slightly spoiled, when the chips are down and danger beckons, they will do anything to save the people they love. Though she is frightened and confused, Meriel quickly finds the determination to save her brothers. She knows that something terrible has happened to them – they all just disappeared, after all – and she is going to figure out where they all went. With her father bewitched by her new, beautiful stepmother, she has no adult to turn to. After chance encounter with Riona, her brother Cullan’s girlfriend, Meriel discovers some equally determined allies. Both Riona and her brother, Liam, will do anything to help Meriel. They know that the new queen is evil, and they fear what will happen to the kingdom if she triumphs in her evil deeds.
Just when Meriel is ready to give up, the townsfolk provide assistance to keep her moving doggedly forward. Hers is a terrible task, one that she isn’t prepared to tackle, but with help from her friends and her subjects, she finds the resolution and the courage to get the job done. Meriel matures and gains confidence in her ability to save her family, and as she discovers an impressive inner strength, she makes things happen. She knows that if she fails, her brothers will remain swans forever, and that is all of the motivation she needs to find a way around every obstacle that springs up in her path. Her brothers, and even her father, may have treated her like a helpless child, but Meriel will show them all that she is more than capable of taking care of herself, and them as well! Even though each road block was more overwhelming than the last, and Meriel was overcome with self-doubt, she continued to do everything possible to save her brothers.
Diane Zahler’s writing is reminiscent of Patricia McKillip and Robin McKinley, two of my favorite fantasy authors, so it’s no surprise that I am enjoying her books as well. I just purchased A True Princess ($5.99 for my Kindle – WIN!). She has, in fact, been moved to my auto-buy list. I can hardly wait to see what other adventures she has in store for her very relatable and likeable characters.
Review copy provided by the author