In a world where the flightless are ruled by those who can fly…
When her father dies just before her birthday, seventeen-year-old Aderyn inherits the role of Protector of Atratys, a dominion in a kingdom where nobles are able to transform at will into the bird that represents their family bloodline. Aderyn’s ancestral bird is a swan. But she has not transformed for years, not since witnessing the death of her mother – ripped apart by hawks that have supposedly been extinct since the long-ago War of the Raptors.
With the benevolent shelter of her mother and her father now lost, Aderyn is at the mercy of her brutal uncle, the King, and his royal court. Driven by revenge and love, she must venture into the malevolent heart of the Citadel in order to seek the truth about the attack that so nearly destroyed her, to fight for the only home she has ever known and for the land she has vowed to protect.
A Throne of Swans is an immersive, unique and well paced fantasy, the first in an exciting avian duology and an all round brilliant read. I went in with no real expectations as this is the first time reading any of Katharine & Elizabeth Corrs’ writing and was so impressed by this novel. It feels so fluid – sometimes with co-writers I’ve found that there is a mix of ‘voices’ and it feels like two seperate individuals have written it all over the place but with this book, I can truly say the narrative voice felt consistent and the story complex with many players and pieces without being overly bogged down.
A big thank you to Hot Key Books YA team for sending me beautiful paperback editions of both books – pictured below along with my very cute and fluffy cat – rest assured, all thoughts are my own and an honest review can always be expected.
One of my favourite things about this book would have to be the writing and plotting itself. I loved how the different threads and character arcs play out, maximising dramatic tension and effect with satisfying moments too. I enjoyed the way in which this novel felt like a very clever mash up of Game of Thrones and Swan Lake – a sentence I literally never imagined myself typing but here we are. The politics and power struggles in Solanum are multi layered with different factions within the royal court vying for power, as well as the larger divide between the flightless and nobles inhabiting the pages and giving it further gravity. I thought the fact that the characters could fly and transform into birds was a whimsical touch and the importance of this was even greater as Aderyn herself finds herself unable to transform due to a traumatic event in her past.
I also really liked Aderyn, our protagonist who is thrust into life at court somewhat reluctantly and reading how she navigates this was so interesting. I really appreciated that Aderyn is such a consistent character, this is not to say that she doesn’t undergo major changes and growth through the course of the novel because she most definitely does, but her sense of morality, her love for her home and her relationships and loyalty remained super strong throughout. I was less into Lucien, the brooding raven haired clerk who is tasked with helping Aderyn, the tension between the two was fun to read but quite predictable as well so the romance element wasn’t high up on my list of things I liked.
I especially liked the representation of female friendship, between Aderyn and her childhood best friend Letya, who accompanies her to court. Although there is a vast difference between their stations in life; Aderyn is a princess and Letya is flightless and thus looked down upon by other nobles, their relationship remains unwavering and I loved how much importance was placed on their bond. I am always down for strong female friendship rep in books and this is definitely one of my favourite examples of late. In a similar vein, the familial relationships are also quite interesting and I really liked how the cousin relationship between Aderyn, Aron and Odette was developed. I liked how they slowly became close friends and connected from being estranged family, and how they all came to terms with the sins of their respective fathers. I think this is one of the most interesting elements in the novel – the way the characters had to reconcile who their parents really were with the people they once remembered and how they vow to be better and change the future for the better.
Overall, A Throne of Swans was a truly enjoyable read and I would definitely recommend this to readers who enjoy Y/A Fantasy and want a winding narrative with political scheming and machinations, strong female friendships and compelling lore.
Until next time,