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A Throne of Swans

A Throne of Swans

Katharine Corr
Hot Key Books
ISBN: 9781471408755

From the elegant cover featuring a 3D model of a specially designed throne and a lone feather to its pages filled with Machiavellian machinations, teen angst, secrets, love, betrayal, sacrifice and intricate world building involving avian transformation, 'A Throne of Swans' delivers a rich YA treat for high fantasy fans.

Talented author siblings Katherine and Elizabeth Corr, fresh from their 'Witch's Kiss' trilogy success, envisioned a novel loosely based upon 'Swan Lake' and swan maiden fairy tales with a dash of 'Game of Thrones', just a hint of 'Hamlet' and a flavour of an 18th Century European setting.

This Herculean task involved time, research and lots of decision making on character arcs but the duo enjoyed creating the kingdom of Solanum.

Readers are introduced to a revenge fuelled quote from 'Sophocles', a map of five realms and a family tree of the Lords of Chenorys at the start of the novel. The Corrs cleverly reverse the concept of humans being turned into swans by an evil spell by giving their ruling class the ability to transform into powerful birds. This arrangement leaves the flightless at a socio-economic disadvantage.

As Kate explained in an interview with 'The Nerd Daily', "We had to think about the impact of having a ruling class of shapeshifters. We had to imagine how that would affect things like dress, social structure, religion, architecture. We also had to invent the geography of Solanum." As a result, scientific advances such as the use of a telescope and reference to courtly customs feature. For Liz it was also important to address the aspects of 'coming of age' as growing up and stepping into a larger and scarier world is something everyone expects to experience to some degree.

Their story revolves around the choices of 17-year-old Aderyn who is emotionally scarred and suffering from post-traumatic stress after terrible events. Thrust into a role she is unprepared for as Protector of the Dominion of Atratys she must make incredibly difficult decisions battling with her heart, head and desire to discover the truth about who is responsible for her situation. Who can she trust at a court filled with intrigue as duplicitous individuals ruthlessly vie for ultimate power?

Dark haired Darcyesque imperious Lucien, who can transform into a raven, and whom she feels strangely drawn to, warns Aderyn to trust no one not even himself or her companion Letya. She is grappling with a secret that could destroy her, the resentment of her cousin Aron, the attentions of the handsome and mysterious Siegfried, who is engaged to her cousin Odette, fear of her sinister uncle [based on King Claudius in Hamlet] and the rigid rules of the Convocation who govern Solanum.

The Corrs offer up a cocktail of magic, poison and double cross as vulnerable Aderyn is bitterly tested like the 'Game of Thrones' Daenerys. Loosely based on Swan Lake's Odile, Aderyn is a complex character open to manipulation. In George Martin's Westeros supremacy is gained through the control of dragons but in Solanum it is possessed by those who have the power of flight, strength and speed. Add some skulduggery and treachery worthy of 'Claudius', vivid and visceral bird language, vibrant colours, heart stopping peril and evocative imagery and you have a book destined for the screen.

Katherine and Elizabeth count 'Gilded Cage', 'Earthsea', 'Iron King', Mortal Instruments' and 'Starcrossed' among their favourite reads. Fans of these gripping fantasy tales which have spawned sequels can look forward to more dastardly deeds in the kingdom of Solanum. Liz promises new ancestral lines, more contenders for the throne and more bad things in store for the protagonists while Kate, dubbed 'the character killer', will be exercising her 'dark side'.

Enthralling, imaginative, immersive and passionate this shape shifting swan series is a an exciting addition to the YA fantasy stable. It will appeal to teens who enjoy engaging reads with a sprinkle of fairy tale magic where characters face extreme challenges and battle with broken hearts. So get ready to be swept away and #JoinTheFlight.

Reviewed by Tanja Jennings / ages 14+ / 352 Pages


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