“The exile of the princes of Lacharra didn’t begin with swords or spells. It began inside the castle kitchen with a quest for cloves.
It began with me.”
-from The Flight of Swans by Sarah McGuire
When the King of Lacharra returns to the castle with a pale-haired woman without a name and eyes full of deception, only twelve-year-old Princess Andaryn doesn’t fall to the enchantments she weaves about the royal family. And when Ryn defies her, hoping in the doing to free her family from the Queen’s devious power, it instead gives her the chance to kill Ryn's six older brothers under false pretenses.
In desperation, Ryn makes the only bargain the Queen is willing to strike. She will be silent for six years—one for each of her brothers—if she allows them to go free.
And the Queen does set them free, but in the form of six black swans. They will regain their human forms only on the night of the full moon, and, after six years, will remain that way forever.
Only Ryn knows what the Queen has done, and she is unable to tell the story to any other. As the years pass and she travels across the land, she is pursued by the Queen’s fearsome Hunters and she herself pursues what she hopes will be a way to save her brothers. But as she learns more about the curse, she begins to wonder: who is the Queen, really?
The Flight of Swans is an effortless, brilliant fantasy novel. Based off the fairy tale Six Swans, this is one of my favorite fairy-tale retellings, adhering to the original story while expanding in unexpected directions. Sarah McGuire crafts a mysterious, multilayered landscape and world, with unusual magic, interesting history, and intriguing creatures. The Queen herself is a mystery who kept me wondering until the end, with her strange history and cunning mind. And Ryn is a courageous, bold protagonist who won’t stop at anything to save her brothers, who reminded me of heroines like Kara Westfall and Ella from Ella Enchanted. This book was engaging and fast-paced, despite taking place over a long period of time, with a twisting plot which kept me guessing. I highly recommend The Flight of Swans to readers ages twelve and up who love awesome main characters, complex worlds, and brilliant retellings of fairy tales!