Sunday, December 11, 2011

Book Review: The Swan Maiden

I was actually looking for a completely different book when I came across this one at the school library and decided that it was probably a sign I should finally check this one out. I've seen it there before and I read one of the author's other works, Toads and Diamonds, earlier in the year which I liked up to the ending so I was really curious how well I would like this work.

The Swan Maiden by Heather Tomlinson
Funny enough my version of the book had this picture in sephia tones, as if the picture had been painted with tea instead of ink, and I think I like that version better (couldn't find many pictures of this cover hence why I have the wrong one). I don't love the picture, it feels just a little off to me for some reason (too unbalanced?) but I like the idea and it's a unique one so it works just fine.

Summary: Doucette has always been envious of her two older sisters who are swan maidens, girls born with swan skins and magic, freedom that Doucette never had. But one day she discovers that her parents have been lying to her and that she has a swan skin as well and all the freedoms and limitations that go with it.

The Good: I can think of a few fairy tales that involve people transforming into swans but it's a slim list and I can't think of any young adult books with it so kudos to Tomlinson for once again coming up with a unique yet familiar feeling idea. There are actually a lot of nods to classic Western fairy tales here (the seemingly impossible tasks for a suitor and a few background details) which was nice and really helped with the overall feeling of the book.

The Bad: The main plot of the story revolves around the classic "person gains powers and learns responsibility with them," which is fine, but left Doucette with some major viewpoint shifts which felt too unrealistic for a teenager. A lot of the characters had extreme views (regarding the use of their magic and trusting other people) actually but they were at least older, Doucette switching between such extreme views simply felt too mature and final for someone who isn't even twenty, you simply don't finish growing until long after then. While it's not the same problem I had with Toads and Diamonds I do seem to dislike how Tomlinson's act at the very end of her stories. 

So, not quite to my taste in the end but it was still nice to see a different kind of fairy tale get re-written. Tomlinson does have one other book I know about but I think for the moment I'll try out some other authors instead. 

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