Princess of the Wild Swans

Princess of the Wild Swans

Book - 2012
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Twelve-year-old Princess Meriel must sew shirts from stinging nettles in order to rescue her five older brothers from their evil stepmother's spell lest they remain swans forever. Inspired by the Andersen fairy tale, "The Wild Swans."
Publisher: New York : HarperColins, [2012]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2012
ISBN: 9780062004932
9780062004925
Branch Call Number: ZAH
Characteristics: 212 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm

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QueenBoadicea Jul 27, 2015

This novel takes its theme from one of the lesser known European fairy tales, one dealing with a dangerous, jealous stepmother and the seven boys she curses. The story wastes little time on the magical aspect of it—one moment a girl has five brothers (reduced from the original seven); the next moment they’re gone, changed into swans without so much as a warning to the reader.

What the book does is take us into the life of Princess Meriel as she struggles with the menial tasks of gathering nettles, preparing them and sewing them into shirts for her enchanted brothers. In do so, Meriel becomes more than a useless, pampered princess and comes to know and understand the subjects under her father’s benevolent role. They truly love their king and the author doesn’t merely tell us this, she shows us, raising this book well beyond its fairy tale origins.

However, the reasons for the evil queen’s agreement with the Sidhe are left unclear and without that, the portrayal of her cruelty is reduced to pointless malignity. That may work for Shakespeare but in a story about good versus evil that’s intended for children it just makes for baffling reading. What does the queen have to gain by allowing the dangerous Sidhe access to the upper world? She already rules a kingdom; the Sidhe would refuse to let her rule theirs. All she would accomplish is to put the very people she holds sway over in mortal danger. There would be deaths, disappearances and the land would be overrun with supernatural folk who would care little for her sovereignty.

So why does she do it? Alas, the book gives us no clues and, without an explanation, the queen’s involvement with the Fair Folk is a flaw that can’t be overlooked. We understand why she changes the five boys who’d stand between her child and the throne. The rest is simply the addition of a supernatural element both unnecessary and superfluous.

f
FindingJane
Jul 27, 2015

This novel takes its theme from one of the lesser known European fairy tales, one dealing with a dangerous, jealous stepmother and the seven boys she curses. The story wastes little time on the magical aspect of it—one moment a girl has five brothers (reduced from the original seven); the next moment they’re gone, changed into swans without so much as a warning to the reader.

What the book does is take us into the life of Princess Meriel as she struggles with the menial tasks of gathering nettles, preparing them and sewing them into shirts for her enchanted brothers. In do so, Meriel becomes more than a useless, pampered princess and comes to know and understand the subjects under her father’s benevolent role. They truly love their king and the author doesn’t merely tell us this, she shows us, raising this book well beyond its fairy tale origins.

However, the reasons for the evil queen’s agreement with the Sidhe are left unclear and without that, the portrayal of her cruelty is reduced to pointless malignity. That may work for Shakespeare but in a story about good versus evil that’s intended for children it just makes for baffling reading. What does the queen have to gain by allowing the dangerous Sidhe access to the upper world? She already rules a kingdom; the Sidhe would refuse to let her rule theirs. All she would accomplish is to put the very people she holds sway over in mortal danger. There would be deaths, disappearances and the land would be overrun with supernatural folk who would care little for her sovereignty.

So why does she do it? Alas, the book gives us no clues and, without an explanation, the queen’s involvement with the Fair Folk is a flaw that can’t be overlooked. We understand why she changes the five boys who’d stand between her child and the throne. The rest is simply the addition of a supernatural element both unnecessary and superfluous.

Black_Cheetah_99 Feb 19, 2014

A sweet story for someone looking for a quick read.

m
me_mochi
Jul 08, 2013

a nice little fairytale for someone like me!!

s
s_kundrik
Jul 06, 2013

Very well done. The darker elements of the original have been taken out (attempted burning for witchcraft) and the number of brothers have been reduced, and the remaining ones have been given personalities. The princess is a lot younger than in the original, and is very spirited and independent. More witches have been thrown in (who doesn't love a good witch or two?) and in this retelling, the princess has friends to help her. I really enjoyed this!

l
Love_Legolas_111
Mar 19, 2013

Quite a pleasant surprise! I was very disappointed at how predictable the ending was for Zahler's "A True Princess" but I decided to check out her other books to see if they were better and why they had good reviews. I have to admit that this was quite good! The plot was believable yet not quite predictable, the characters were well made, and the moral lesson that Meriel learns was thought out well. The beginning sparked interest, and the end was strong and heart-warming. Quite surprising. I'll be reading "The Thirteenth Princess" next.

BPLNextBestKids Aug 18, 2012

Diane Zahler has done it again! In this new take on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Wild Swans, the characters are more fully developed and the Princess’s efforts to save her brothers reach exciting levels as the race against freezing water becomes desperate and the evil witch displays her power to prevent the salvation of the kingdom. Another super story for the fairy tale lovers like me. Reviewed by BPL volunteer EE.

crystal_dark Jun 02, 2012

This book was a great retelling of the Six Swans, filled with great characters that grab your attention and interest and keep you reading till the end.

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Black_Cheetah_99 Aug 01, 2013

Black_Cheetah_99 thinks this title is suitable for 8 years and over

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crystal_dark Jun 02, 2012

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.

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