A Throne of Swans by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publishing Info: eARC from Bonnier Zaffre
Star Rating: 2/5
Back Cover Summary:
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.
Written in rich detail and evocative language, this is the start of an irresistible, soaring duology about courage, broken loyalties and fighting for your place in the world.
Thank you so much to Bonnier Zaffre and NetGalley for the eARC of this book.
The concept for this book’s world is what first caught my attention. Also, the cover is striking and the title, A Throne of Swans, is clearly similar to A Game of Thrones. In this book’s world, shape-shifters are the rulers and the flightless, those who cannot transform into birds, are inferior. This is the strongest aspect of A Throne of Swans. This societal structure is well thought out and depicted, including integration into the characters’ language and interactions.
Aderyn is a likeable but uninteresting protagonist. She has a strong character arc, as she seeks to overcome her own fears and regain her ability to fly. However compared to most of the other characters she seems entirely honourable and above reproach. Lucien criticises some of her actions, as she thinks before she acts at times, and is unversed in court manners. But I felt her character lacked depth. Other characters were quite one-dimensional, and the antagonists weren’t intimidating and lacked motivation beyond a need for power. Any reasons for their actions are left a mystery, making them into almost caricature power-hungry villains plotting to take the throne. One antagonist in particular features substantially in the book, having multiple conversations with Aderyn, and giving the authors ample opportunity to provide insight into that characters motivations. But sadly that wasn’t explored at all, missing an opportunity to add more depth.
Unfortunately the majority of the book was predictable. For a story revolving around court intrigue, it was lacking in said intrigue. While some scenes had potential, not enough tension was conveyed through the writing to create a sense of suspense. The writing is fairly simplistic and didn’t paint a particularly strong picture. I wouldn’t agree with the bold claim in the summary above that it is ‘written in rich detail and evocative language’. The pace picks up in the second half, and there is some action, but I was far from the edge of my seat. The climax of the book takes place at an execution and was a bit rushed, including glazing over how one character escapes capture. I thought she had been taken by the villains, but the following chapters suggest she was successfully rescued off-page, which was a little confusing.
Although this review may not seem positive, I did enjoy the book. The world-building is good, with little details that brought it to life. The problem is that I didn’t feel anything while reading. I wasn’t afraid for the characters or happy for them. I didn’t feel any suspense. Which I think is why it falls flat. Despite intriguing world-building, the characters or plot itself aren’t innovative or memorable enough to make it stand out amongst all the other young adult fantasy out there.