The Flight of Swans
448p. Carolrhoda. Oct. 2018. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781512440270.
Gr 5–8—For fans of reworked fairy tales, McGuire takes on Hans Christian Andersen's "The Wild Swans." Princess Andaryn, aka Ryn, is the youngest in her family, which includes her widower father and her six older brothers. When her father remarries a beautiful witch who enchants him and the rest of the kingdom, they are all in jeopardy. A showdown with the witch puts Ryn's prince brothers into danger, so the princess strikes a bargain with her stepmother: to spare her brothers' lives, Ryn must remain silent for six years. During that time, her brothers will live as swans. Now Ryn must run away and try to discover how to thwart the evil queen before the six years are up—all without endangering the lives of her brothers. Darker than most contemporary reworkings of classic tales, McGuire hews closely to the source material and keeps it in the original time and place. It is refreshing to see the princess (and youngest sibling at that) save the princes. She is clever, courageous, and persistent, and she experiences much growth and maturity as the novel progresses. At first, the identities of the brothers seem confusing, but they are written distinctly enough that readers will be able to tell them apart as the story progresses. There is some violence and romance, yet nothing too intense, making it an acceptable choice for older elementary and middle school students, especially those interested in the world of Game of Thrones, but not mature enough to watch the show.
VERDICT A finely crafted and compelling fairy-tale retelling. Hand to voracious fantasy readers and fans of Gail Carson Levine and Shannon Hale.

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