Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Swan Kingdom - Zoe Marriott

Zoe Marriott's debut novel, The Swan Kingdom takes its inspiration from the Hans Christian Anderson classic, The Wild Swans, which I confess I don't recall ever reading before now.

Marriott's retelling of Anderson's tale looks at the following questions that are not answered in Anderson's original tale:

  • Why did the children's father, the King, re-marry so suddenly?

  • Why was he so quick to turn against his own children?

  • Why was the wicked stepmother so wicked?

  • What really happened to the brothers when they were enchanted?

  • How did their sister (cosseted and spoiled all her life) find the strength to endure pain and silence to restore them?

  • And also concentrates on the mother of the children in the story.

    Shadows have fallen across the Kingdom, Alexandra's native country. Her mother, the Queen is attacked in the forest by an unnatural beast, and none of Alexandra's healing skills can save her. Soon afterwards her father is spellbound by a beautiful woman, her three elder brothers vanish and Alexandra is banished to the nearby country of Midland, to stay with her aunt. There seems to be little hope for either Alex or her home, but she has more gifts than she realises and isn't ready to give up yet. She finds her way to a special spot where she can contact her female ancestors who all carry the same magic gift that she carries, and she is told that it's up to her to restore her brothers.

    I did worry slightly about where this story was going when Alex met a young man named Gabriel who, unusually (because it's normally a "female" gift) shares her gift, and it becomes clear that she's falling in love with him. But thankfully the relationship was handled well and didn't fall into the horrible "Princess falls in love and is rescued by a young man" trap that I thought it was going to fall into, and I ended up enjoying the whole "They lived happily ever after" ending ! This is a strong debut from a young author (she's in her twenties and not much older than that other talented young fantasy author, Catherine Webb).

    You can read the first chapter of this book at the Walker Books website. Zoe Marriott has her own website. She already has a second novel, Daughter of the Flames, with Walker Books which will be out either late this year or next year.


    Anonymous said...

    Hi Scholar - I just wanted to say thank you for the lovely review.


    Michele said...

    Zoe, you're very welcome !