Lately, I’ve reaaaally been in need. Literary need. I’ve read so much spooky stuff, that I had a dire desire for a change of pace. Usually, this means it’s time to re-visit some Sarah Addison Allen, who always makes me feel grounded, but alas… all of my books are still packed up in my garage.
I read Poet Anderson …Of Nightmares by Tom DeLonge and Suzanne Young- it was all right. Didn’t satiate me. I started reading Beautiful Darkness by Garcia & Stohl, and I’m still working on that, but this little gem, The Enchanted Swans by Christy Nicholas, fell into my lap, and it’s really taking me out of my slump!
First, here’s an official blurb:
In pre-Celtic Ireland, Fionnuala was a fae princess, born to a life of luxury. She knew her duty and loved her family. She missed her mother, who died in childbirth when Fionnuala was but ten years old. Still, she had hopes and dreams of love and a full life.
All her dreams were stolen from her, ripped away in a torrent of envy and magic.
Now she must care for her three brothers while learning to live under an evil curse. Will she find a way to break the spell, or would they remain swans, tethered to three places for nine hundred years?
UNGH. You guys know how I am when it comes to Faerie tales AND mythology. Put them together?! My ears perked like a German Shepherd’s. And take a peek at this gorgeous cover!
My review? Well, let’s begin!
First, I’ll say that this book is dense, but in all the best ways. Dense with character, dense with feeling, dense with Irish lore, and pleasingly dense with description. It’s told in First Person, so where you lose that omnipotent level of description, you gain Fionnuala’s (or Nuala, for short) personal insights, which are varied and vast. And speaking of Irish lore, this story uses lots of Irish Gaelic wording and names (and as a student of Irish Gaelic, I can tell you they’re not pronounced how they look) but never fear: there’s a handy dandy Glossary tucked into the back of the book.
There’s so much good stuff to touch on here: such a faithfulness to Irish mythology and legend that it very much reminded me of reading the original stories; discussing the hierarchy of magic, Druids and Bards, which, even when done in passing, are absolutely fascinating; ravens that are connected to each of those royal children whose veins run with Fae blood… and of course, I can’t not mention the fact that, yes, Nuala and her brothers must learn to navigate their lives as swans, which the author navigates with a careful hand, never allowing comfort to be too big a part of the equation.
Like most Historical & Epic-style fantasies, The Enchanted Swans is a slow burn. The author’s writing style is smooth and lyrical as it needs to be; you can almost hear the clanging of swords as the children practice their techniques, or feel the beating of a raven’s wing as it comes to rest on one’s shoulder. You can sense magic swirling around you, just as it does to the characters.
And the ending made me cry, which is a rare thing indeed.
In short, this beautiful tale made my heart ache a little; where it soothed a deep desire for a different world and a different sort of story, it created another desire, a longing for something– somewhere– wild and beautiful and green.
Therefore, I give The Enchanted Swans 4.5/5 skulls! If you’d like to get your hands on a copy, it comes out on March 8th, 2017 and is available for pre-order from most e-book retailers! Visit her publisher’s website, Tirgearr Publishing, for sale & pre-order links, and drop Christy a line at her own website, Green Dragon, Artist for more of her works.