The tragedy of Swan Lake gets a fantasy reimagining in this fast-paced book for teens.
Evelayn, a white teenager, is the crown princess of Éadrolan, a kingdom of light that is locked in an ancient battle with King Bain, who commands the dark powers of the rival kingdom Dorjhalon. Citizens of both realms possess supernatural powers, and Evelayn comes into her full strength while the queen is fighting in the war, though the ability to shape-shift into swan form eludes her. Evelayn must foil a plot to deprive her people of their gifts by murdering the queen who is the conduit of all the light’s power. When the worst happens, Evelayn undertakes a perilous journey to seek aid from an ancient power in an effort to prevent Bain from extinguishing the power of light permanently. Larson’s (Endure, 2016, etc.) latest novel contains many of the tropes found in modern fantasy adaptations: a feisty princess, dastardly villains, epic fights, and a love triangle. The worldbuilding is intriguing and the matrilineal conveyance of power is a neat twist, but the novel’s fascinating premise is undermined by its too-fast pacing. Readers are not given enough time to really invest in Evelayn’s struggles or the supporting characters’ before the main adventure gets underway, resulting in Evelayn’s lapse into caricature.
An appealing if imperfect girl-power fantasy that ably sets the stage for its sequel. (Fantasy. 13-17)