After Princess Alexandra’s mother is killed, her father marries a woman who charms the kingdom. Alexandra and her brothers, however, believe that this woman is a shape-shifter, the beast who killed their mother in human form. After an ill-fated attempt to prove this goes awry, Alexandra is banished and her brothers disappear. As she lives with her aunt, Alexandra begins to understand the nature of her own magical power.

I can’t say much more without giving away details of the plot that I think readers will enjoy discovering for themselves. It is my policy to give a book fifty pages before I abandon it. This book, while well-written, just wasn’t for me, all the way up to page forty-nine. But on page fifty, everything changed, and I found myself eager to know what happened next. The Swan Kingdom is a fantasy, inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s story The Wild Swans. In this story, Zoe Marriott has created a rich world. Alexandra is a strong female protagonist, but she draws her strength from emotion and magic rather than physical power. While she does spend more time than many of us would probably like waiting for her brothers to find her, she does take action and work to change the fate of her nation’s people. The Swan Kingdom’s greatest strengths lie in its world-building and unique magic system.

I would recommend this to anyone interested in adaptations of traditional fairy tales or looking for a female protagonist who has strength but doesn’t fight, who is able to use that strength without giving up her femininity.

Book: The Swan Kingdom Author: Zoe Marriott Publisher: Candlewick Original Publication Date: March 2008 Pages: 272 Age Range: Young Adult Source of Book: ARC requested from publisher Buy it: IndieBound - Powell’s [Affiliate Links]