Hello Humans! Who is in the mood for some young adult fantasy? I know I was when I started reading A Throne of Swans, and this upcoming book did not disappoint!
If you love ‘cliché’ YA fantasy then you’re in for a treat!
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.
I had such a fun time reading this book. I definitely think it was a case of ‘right book at the right time’ and I’d definitely suggest you wait until the right moment to read this one. I spent a lot of last year in a bit of a YA reading slump and I think I would have liked this book a lot less had I read it at that time. However, I read this book over Christmas, having just finished a number of rather lengthy adult fantasy books and desperately in need of something a little light and relaxed. Enter A Throne of Swans to fill that role perfectly. So if you’re either not a YA fan or you’re not in the mood, perhaps wait until you’re feeling it a little more.
I say that because this book is arguably quite clichéd, you have the young girl with magical powers who cannot use them, some love-triangle-esque elements, courts filled with politics and lies and a governing system that appears to be ignoring the people (and of course our protagonist just didn’t realise until now how bad it had become). Personally, when I read this, that was the exact kind of familiarity and ease I was looking for.
I’ve spoken recently about characters who make poor decisions, and how that can either be frustrating in a good way or in a bad way. In this case, even though she makes absolutely awful choices throughout the book, I could nevertheless understand why Aderyn was the kind of person who would make such a choice. That doesn’t make it any less frustrating to see her make choices which (to the reader) seem inherently foolish, but it does make it work within the story.
I can’t speak to how this book handled trauma from any kind of personal perspective, but I thought it was an interesting take. I’m always a little wary of any story that presents some kind of ‘magical cure’ to the main character’s problems. I appreciated that this book at least attempted to show that actually dealing with and healing from past trauma requires more than a quick fix. I’m not sure it totally pulled it off, it still felt a little bit ‘just think your way out of it’ but it wasn’t as terrible as other depictions of ‘blocked magic’ I’ve read in the past. Inevitably when writing a book such as this where magic is prevalent in society you come up against this ‘well couldn’t magic just fix that’ problems and it’s always interesting to see how various authors handle it.
I’ll be looking forward to seeing how the second book in this duology turns out. I think I’ll be looking out for more of an exploration of privilege – which is touched on in this book but could be developed further, and either a firm commitment to the romance (and then make the book more of a romance focussed story) or steering away from romance and focussing in on the world and the politics (I’m not sure this kind of story can handle doing both well). Either way, I’ll be reading it!
My rating: 3/5 stars
I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
A Throne of Swans is out now!
What say you? Will you be reading this book? Let me know in the comments below!