It seems to me as though Zahler's fairy tales all have different strengths and weaknesses. Princess of the Wild Swans stands out with a particularly well-portrayed protagonist. Meriel really is a girl who grew up among boys - she is outspoken and wants to do what her brothers do and automatically rejects ladylike activities. But in all of this, she is still clearly a princess - she is quite ignorant of what life is like outside the palace walls and she realises her life has been rather privileged once she does see more of the common people.
The common townspeople were what really drew me into this tale. They play an active role and I loved how Meriel transitioned from her sheltered life in the castle to someone who walks with, appreciates and cares for her people. I also really enjoyed the loyalty the town's people showed toward the royal family. I had mixed feelings about the royal family as characters. For a story where the main plot is driven by a sister trying to rescue her brothers, I found the emotion that should have gone with it lacking. Part of it might have been because, with the exception of Cullan, we never really got to know the brothers.
They all had their quirks but they were still too underdeveloped - the other four brothers were very easily interchangeable. Another reason why I felt that the brothers aren't so well developed is the fact that there are several other strong supporting characters. Meriel befriends a half-witch brother and sister, Riona and Liam, who help her throughout her trials.
They are both great characters and I love how their witch-life was described with their cosy little hut full of herbs and rescued animals. Liam, in particular, was a dear and I confess, I would have loved to see a little more romance in this one! In addition to Riona and Liam, there's their mother, Meriel's governess and a whole lot of town's people who support Meriel. And although I really appreciated all the support, it also had a downside; the curse doesn't allow Meriel to speak, yet witches and half-witches are able to read her thoughts.
With at least half of the cast being magical, I felt like it destroyed the point of the curse forcing Meriel into silence. I would have much rather seen some more struggles of her trying to communicate - it feels like a missed opportunity.
Hans Christian Andersen: The Wild Swans
I am inclined to say that Princess of the Wild Swans is so far the weakest of Zahler's tales. That in itself isn't saying much, though, as they are all unique and solid stories in their own right. It is definitely worth a read for any who have enjoyed Zahler's previous works or any who like classic Fairy Tales. Mar 10, Literary Chanteuse rated it really liked it Shelves: mg-fantasy. Aug 13, Elevetha rated it liked it Recommends it for: Lovers of fairytales retold, reimagined, or twisted on it's side.
Shelves: , fairytales , magic-and-other-magical-substances , fairytale-retelling. A retelling of the The Wild Swans. The writing is superb, flowing and weaving, it draws you into Meriel's enchanted world. Meriel's five brothers are transformed into swans by Meriel's full witch stepmother. Yes, an actual witch Not all witches are bad, in fact, Meriel's friends are half-witches.
Liam and Riona were a lovely brother and sister duo. Meriel must complete what seems an impossible task: weaving stinging nettles into shirts for her brothers, all without saying a word. While her father is bespelled and oblivious to his evil wife, Meriel's stepmother is trying to prevent Meriel from saving her brothers, and also attempting to open doorways between their world and the Fairie world. I really enjoyed reading this twist on the classic fairytale. Jun 14, Ruby rated it it was ok Shelves: fantasy , historical , fairy-tale-retelling , middle-grade.
The Characters Ruby You're probably going to be sick and tired of me saying things like this, but Princess of the Wild Swans' Meriel couldn't hold a candle to Daughter of the Forest's Sorcha. She was spoiled and a bit thin on personality and character development. I know that I should expect a princess to be a bit spoiled, but I do expect spoiled characters to move, gradually toward a place where they are less spoiled. Meriel ostensibly did this, but not in any particularly interesting way.
I also didn't think we got to know the brothers very well before they were turned into swans. They fell too neatly into categories artistic brother, introspective brother, etc. I wasn't invested enough to really care that they were gone, and I didn't feel the tension when Meriel was fighting to get them back. Small Review I agree, Meriel was very spoiled. I do think she grew as the book went on, but she annoyed me so much in the beginning that I had a hard time letting that go.
The brothers were disappointing to me, too. That made them feel even less alive than if they were simple caricatures. I almost wish the story had been about Liam, Danica, and their mother—the original characters. They were easier to like and hinted at depth. I felt their family bonds a lot more clearly. The only time I really felt invested in the story was when one of them was in peril.
Ruby I agree! I can't think of a single thing the brothers aside from Cullan did! But I didn't like Liam, Danica and company as much as you did. I felt like they were caricatures of kind-hearted villagers. And, frankly, she does it so much better that I don't think this book is going to work for me. This is the Lite version. The fact that Meriel could communicate with Liam and Danica telepathically made me want to tell her that she had it easy compared to the things Sorcha had to go through.
I read MG novels occasionally because that's the age I teach and probably the reason I don't seek out the genre , so I know the only issue wasn't the audience Zahler was writing to. I've read more sophisticated stuff geared towards younger audiences. I just didn't connect with this story. The action also flies past without real substance, and the conflict was too neatly resolved. If you've read Juliet Marillier's guest post, you know what I'm talking about.
It's one of the tidiest happily ever afters I've ever encountered. The only thing it's lacking is the babies. Easy peasy "trials" and then neat ending. They didn't work for it. Ruby Good to know! I'll take my copy to my classroom and see if it draws the interest of my students. I think the question of why the saccharine ending bothered us so much is a good one. I'm a happy ending person, too.
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I get pissed if the main characters go through ridiculous amounts of suffering only to have medium happy endings. I agree with Small, that also you need to feel like the characters have earned their happy endings--and I didn't get that feeling here. Feb 19, Danielle rated it it was amazing Shelves: books-i-own , middlegrade , for-review , favorites. Short and Sweet: Powerful storytelling filled with adventure and heart.
A fairytale for all ages! Zahler has a way with words that pull her characters off the page and into reality. She was feisty but warm and kind. Her friends Riona and Liam only made her a better person and their willingness to help her became a trait she soon acquired herself.
Diane Zahler knows how to write a classic fairytale that readers today will immediately fall in love with. Princess of the Wild Swans is filled with stunningly realistic characters, an exciting adventure and mystery as well as lessons to be learned. Jun 14, Rebecca rated it really liked it Shelves: fantasy , fairy-tale-retellings , arc , to-review.
Hans Christian Andersen
Twelve-year-old Princess Meriel is the only girl in a family with five older brothers. Her mother died when she was very young, so it has just been Meriel, her brothers, and their father, the King, for as long as she can remember. Then one day her father returns home with a new wife, Lady Orianna. From the start, Meriel hates Lady Orianna. She doesn't trust her, especially after overhearing her argue with her father over the fact that if she has a son, he will never be king with five older broth Twelve-year-old Princess Meriel is the only girl in a family with five older brothers.
She doesn't trust her, especially after overhearing her argue with her father over the fact that if she has a son, he will never be king with five older brothers. The next day, when Meriel wakes up, her brothers are all gone. Lady Orianna says they have been sent away to school, but Meriel doesn't believe her. Meriel is determined to find out the truth, but when she does, it is more awful than she ever could have imagined. Lady Orianna is a witch, and has cursed Meriel's brothers, transforming them all into swans. Meriel is the only one who can break the curse, but the task will be difficult.
And she is running out of time, for it will soon be winter, and then her brothers will have to fly to a warmer land or they will die from the cold. I was not disappointed and enjoyed Princess of the Wild Swans as much as the previous two books. One of the things I really like about this author's books is that even though they are all set in magical lands, the settings are inspired by real places and cultures, and along with the traditional fairy tale stories she retells, she mixes in folklore and mythology from those places.
The setting for this book reads like a fairy tale version of medieval Ireland, due to the Celtic names and folklore. I think readers who enjoyed Diane Zahler's previous books, or who enjoy fairy tale retellings or historical fantasy, would enjoy this book. Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher.
What an enchanting read! I love a well written fairy tale re-telling and Diane has done a wonderful job with her story of Meriel and her brothers whom are all turned into swans. I really enjoyed being swept away with the classic fairytale aspect of this story. There's magic, danger, a lovely, well written innocent romance, witches and fey lore.
Plus I love that it takes a Princess and good hearted towns people to bring down a wicked, evil witch. Princess Meriel is a fabulously written, strong you What an enchanting read! Princess Meriel is a fabulously written, strong young female heroine who will everything she can to save her father the King, her brothers and their kingdom from the evil Queen. I loved the transformation she has through out the story. She starts off being a little spoiled, and very stubborn which I also admired about her and becomes a fearlessness, courageous Princess who will stop at nothing to help her family.
I also admired the fact that she felt she had the right to do whatever her brothers were doing. It's that feistiness that helps Meriel accomplish a nearly impossible task to save her brothers.
Aside from Meriel, I really loved the characters in this story. Liam and Riona, the brother and sister duo who aid Meriel in her quest to save her brothers and break the evil Queen's spell were two of my favorites. I found them to be just as strong as Meriel. I also enjoyed getting to know Mistress Tuileach. I thoroughly enjoyed Diane's exciting story line which is full of surprising twists and turns that kept me guessing what was going to happen next.
This is a fabulous read for middle grade readers and for fans of MG books. If you're a fan of fairy tale re-tellings I highly recommend picking up this charming read. Dec 24, Chrisanne rated it did not like it Shelves: fantasy. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. So I try to read the adaptations which are much less plentiful than "Cinderella".
I've tried The Swan Kingdom , and Daughter of the Forest and found much to admire and some to dislike. In keeping with that childish love, I decided to read this one. This adaptation didn't really please me. I might have been the wrong age for it it really seemed aimed at 8-year-olds but the danger never seemed real nor did the sibling love. The book seemed rushed and the telepathy really made things too easy.
It really brings home the talent of writers like Laura Ingalls Wilder who speak to me across a vast majority of ages. Oct 03, A B rated it liked it. The Wild Swans is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, my favorite fairy tale. I've only read one other retelling, The Swan Kingdom. Both books are alike in that they are loosely inspired by the tale. It's a sweet story with some good moral lessons - i. I was pretty disappointed that it missed the sticking point of the original tale: the heroine spent 7 years without speaking, destroying her hands with stinging The Wild Swans is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, my favorite fairy tale.
The Wild Swans
I was pretty disappointed that it missed the sticking point of the original tale: the heroine spent 7 years without speaking, destroying her hands with stinging nettles, and nearly getting burned alive for witchcraft by her own husband, all for the love of her brothers. In this book, Princess Muriel cheats by speaking via telepathy and seems to only spend a few weeks - at best - working on the shirts.
She stays with friends in their comfortable house rather than living in a net dragged by 12 swans. View 1 comment. Jan 08, Erica rated it really liked it. I had so much fun reading and am excited to check out Diane Zahler's other books after this. The beginning was a bit disjointed for me, and I didn't really get into Princess of the Wild Swans until probably a third of the way in.
Then I was super invested in it, and didn't want to put it down. I loved trying to figure out what would happen next. I wish this one had been a bit longer, as I would have loved to know wha 3. I wish this one had been a bit longer, as I would have loved to know what happened just a bit beyond the conclusion of the book.
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The characters were a lot of fun. I just loved Liam and Riona - both were such good hearted people. Meriel was such a strong character and I loved seeing her grow over the course of the book. I just love this cover of this one - it is such a image and it fits the book so well. I would recommend Princess of the Wild Swans to people who love fairy tales retellings, because this one had such charm. Feb 10, April rated it really liked it Shelves: fantasy , middle-grade , for-review. Either way, I love reading fairytale retellings. Diane Zahler is becoming one of my favorite middle grade authors as she continues to put a captivating spin on fairy tales with her latest, Princess Of The Wild Swans.
Read the rest of my review here. Sep 09, Micaela Muldoon rated it liked it Shelves: retellings-spinoffs. I featured this book in a post I did on short fairy tale retellings. This novel is cute! It has believable, flawed, likable characters and a dash of Celtic magic. However, if given more pages, the story, world-building, and villain could have been more developed. Dec 03, Rebecca rated it liked it Shelves: middle-grade , fairy-tales-and-folklore , fantasy.
Feb 28, Kara rated it it was amazing Shelves: clean-teen. Another great princess story! I really love Diane Zahler and her wonderful versions of fairy tales. Even the ones I am familiar with are totally changed with her perspective.
Jan 09, Rachel rated it liked it. There were some nice original parts to this version, but it also had many problems. Good for an afternoon read and fun for kids. It almost felt like she started this for an older audience then was told to take it down a few levels.
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And a reuinion with the guard would have been good too. Overall, it was a cute fun read, but it really missed the mark on the original tale. This book is a fluffier, friendlier version of the original tale. What I loved about the original was the girl's dedication to her brothers. For 7 years she had to stay silent. And at the end she's nearly burned at the stake. It's such a powerful story of devotion. This story had very little of that.
Yes, she loved her brothers, but it just wasn't the same. A middle-grade retelling of the Hans Christian Anderson story. Characters were interesting and the MC had a decent arc. Having the sewing princess be a year-old girl definitely changes the narrative and adds a different layer to her journey. The additional stakes of fairyland were interesting and made for a nice climax. The themes of family and friendship were lovely and overall it was just a nice quick read and good for younger kids. Apr 15, LaNona rated it liked it Shelves: retelling-challenge , april-s-flowers-challenge.
She endures the pain from handling the nettles with bare hands. Eventually, the king of this far away land happens across Elisa and falls in love with her. He gives her a room in his palace in which she continues her knitting, and eventually proposes to her, to which she agrees. The archbishop, however, suspects Elisa of witchcraft. The king refuses to believe this, however. When Elisa runs out of nettles, she is forced to collect more from the church graveyard. The archbishop, who had hidden himself to watch her intrusion, reports this to the king as proof of her witchcraft.
The statues of the saints shake their heads in protest, which the Archbishop misreads as a sign that she is in fact guilty of witchcraft. Elisa cannot speak a word in her defense as she is still bound to silence, lest she kill her brothers by speaking before finishing their nettle shirts. She is sentenced to be burned at the stake. The brothers attempt to speak to the king in her defence, but the curse prevents them from communication. Elisa continues to knit even as she is carried by cart to her execution. The local populace is enraged and attempt to take the shirts from her and destroy them.
Her brothers arrive in swan form at the last minute and descend to carry her away. The people are convinced that this is a sign from heaven, but the executioner continues his preparations. Elisa hurriedly throws the shirts over the swans, and the brothers are once again transformed into humans. The youngest brother, however, keeps one arm as a swan wing because she had not finished the second sleeve on his shirt before being carried away.