Lewis follows up Stitching Snow (2014) with another entry into the burgeoning genre of fairy-tale adaptations, riffing romantic space opera off Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Wild Swans.”
While hardly the spoiled party girl portrayed by the ubiquitous electronic paparazzi, 16-year-old Jantzen heiress Liddi isn’t a technological genius like her dead parents or eight overprotective elder brothers, either—and she feels it keenly. When her brothers disappear and Liddi herself barely escapes a botched kidnapping attempt, she uncovers a plot that threatens not only her family, but all seven inhabited worlds. Now she’s stranded on the supposedly mythical eighth planet, without her connections, her tools, her identity, even her voice…or a clue as to how to save them. Liddi is a terrific heroine, equal parts insecure, clever, and determined. If the handsome young official who becomes her love interest seems a bit too perfect, their sweet romance rather rushed, and the rest of the characters barely sketched, most readers won’t care. Like the best mid-20th-century science fiction, this entertaining adventure delivers the thrilling plot, effortless worldbuilding, compulsive readability, and indefinable “sense of wonder” of grand masters like Heinlein and Asimov (but with decidedly updated sensibilities). The storyline isn’t as strictly tethered to the details of the source as Lewis’ earlier work was, but the essential elements—silence, sacrifice, and, above all, sibling devotion—shine through.
Ideal escapist fare. (Science fiction. 12-18)