Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE SWAN KINGDOM by Zoë Marriott


by Zoë Marriott

Age Range: 11 - 14

Pub Date: March 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7636-3481-0
Publisher: Candlewick

Marriott offers a romantic expansion of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Wild Swans.” Alexandra is a classic king’s daughter: green-eyed and red-haired, intelligent and homely. She romps through the fields with her wonderful brothers and studies herb lore with her wise mother. After a mystifying coming-of-age ceremony that Alexandra doesn’t understand, a beast with chestnut fur attacks and kills her mother. Her father sets out to hunt the beast but is instead ensnared by a bewitching woman with chestnut hair. Alexandra’s banished to an austere aunt’s house and awaits her brothers’ rescue. When the beast/enchanter comes after her again, Alexandra escapes to an abandoned cottage and begins weaving nettle shirts to restore her brothers’ bodies, still unaware of her own vast magical power. The prose tends toward formality and can sound haughty, and one theme (magical Ancestors) is superfluous. However, abundant visual details create richly evocative settings, and emotional connection is clear and tender, both between siblings and between Alexandra and an adoring young stranger. (Fantasy. 11-14)