The Swan Kingdom – Book Review
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.
As many of you may know, I’m a huge fan of fairy tale retellings and I’m ashamed to say that The Swan Kingdom has sat patiently on my bookshelf for far longer than it should have. It truly is a magical read and one that I wish I had picked up much sooner.
The story follows Alexandra, a princess of a prosperous kingdom who – when she’s not learning healing and magick - spends her days frolicking around with her three older brothers. Yet after her mother is murdered and her father be-spelled by a strange young woman, an evil magic corrupts the kingdom and zaps the life from the land. But with her brothers missing and her father’s mind broken, there is no one to protect Alexandra from her new step-mother and she finds herself cast aside and sent to the far corners of the country where she can no longer be a bother.
But as time passes by, Alexandra stops feeling helpless and begins to unlock the door to her own incredible powers. Knowing she alone has ability to restore balance to the world, she takes up the burden and sets off on an epic journey to banish the evil, save her brothers and reclaim the land that is rightfully hers. But with each passing day the evil grows stronger and with time against her, Alexandra will sacrifice everything she has to protect those she loves, even if the cost is her life…
I’ll say now that I’ve read other books by Zoe Marriott and loved each and every one of them. Her prose is beautiful, with vivid descriptions and colourful imagery but what I love most about her writing is the flaws and vulnerability of each of her characters.
For example The Swan Kingdom is told from the view point of Alexandra and I found her to be a very relatable protagonist. Born the fourth child of the king, she is overlooked by her father, outshone by her brothers and falls short when compared to the beauty of her mother. Therefore it is no wonder that Alexandra feels small and trivial, an ugly duckling within a family of swans. However this also makes her both humble and shy and I loved watching how her character developed as slowly, throughout the book she became more independent and confident in herself.
The other characters were also very compelling. The relationship between Alexandra and her brothers was very poignant and real. The love interest Gabriel was sweet and charming and everything that a prince should be. And Zella (the wicked stepmother) was simply chilling and despite her character having been built out of classic clichés, Zella also came with a history and a reason behind her maliciousness to the point that, in the end, I felt deeply sorry for her. She really was a fabulous antagonist.
The plot takes place over a two year span and shows the compassion and bravery of a young girl who has only just started to grow into the great woman she is to become. With elements of love, trust and self-discovery, Zoe Marriott has put a new spin to ‘the wild swans’ fairytale while keeping true to the original story with her fairytale like prose and meaningful story.
Overall, a magical book that will keep you turning the pages until the happily ever after end! 4 stars!
Also for those of you who are unfamiliar with Zoe Marriott’s books, she is an author I would definitely recommend to any lovers of YA Fantasy. You can also check out her blog HERE which is always worth a visit – particularly for any aspiring writers as her advice is priceless and her posts inspiring.