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This book is a great continuation of the variation of a fairy tale. The characters come alive and yes it leaves you wanting more. The obvious reference to the troubles in the other lands as told in previous books is slowly coming to be the focus. Can't wait for the next book
Swan Lake was an interesting story to read. I was curious to see how it fits within the bigger plot and with the other books in this fairy-tale world. I know almost nothing about the original tale, so I can’t compare the stories. The names Odette, Alexei (seems confused him with Romanovs- Siegfried - original) and Rothbart were only vaguely familiar to me. I found the premise of the story very interesting and how Odette and her band of smugglers became swans. There are about two dozen of them so we get to know only the closest to Odette a little better. Rothbart was a surprisingly entertaining villain, for the first half of the story at least. At the beginning he showed a promise to be able to surprise you and in the end he proved to be a more complex character that I hoped he was. Regarding other characters I have to say, I really liked Empress Sonya and would’ve liked to see more of her. I was always looking forward to seeing what she’d do or say next. Though I can’t say this applies to Yakov.. What a tiresome guy. He is sort of one part Rune from the Wild Swans and one part Lancelot, only without agendas and minus the mean streak. I would’ve been quite satisfied just to read his mother’s opinions about him. Odette – nice and interesting main character, but perhaps the topic of her selflessness is overemphasised in the book. It got a bit repetitive after a while, i.e. she states she’s this selfish, mercenary smuggler and then someone immediately jumps in to say otherwise, and this is repeated relentlessly till the end in one way or another. At least I‘ve got that impression. Alexei, sweet nice guy, but unfortunately romance between him and Odette was not very exciting. Though I was beyond excited to see some interactions with Verglas assassins, and something else is revealed at the end of the book that has my interest piqued for the books to come. I just have to say that I really hope there will be stories located in Farset or in connection to it. This is perhaps not one of my favourite books from this author, but it kept me interested
Another well written story from km Shea... I love everything about these timeless fairytales , strong, well developed characters. What can I say they are awesome. Now one of my favourites is swan lake so I've been looking forward to seeing this one and it did not disappoint, I loved this take on the whole story (black swan smugglers) loved it!!! I was very pleased with the family element of the storyline and the friendships. Now I will be rereading this another 50 odd times thank you km Shea again for another smashing book.
I really enjoyed this book. The characters were interesting, it was well-written and there was the touch of humour that make KM Shea's stories so enjoyable. If you have read her other books or you are just looking for a good read, I recommend it!
This book took me a bit longer to get into - I'm not sure why. True to form, K.M. Shea pairs a HBIC 'princess' with a less in-charge prince. Odette takes names and gives receipts as boss of a smuggling business made only of other victims of the sorcerer Rothbart - they are all cursed to be swans during the day. However, she's made the best of it, and manages to dance around Rothbart and protect her crew while keeping a business going. I like her, although she's got a bit off the usual too self-sacrificing saviour complex. Her prince is a bit, well, washed-out in comparison, but this author likes to focus on her heroines, and when they have so much going on in a book it's hard to really round out the boys. Alexei's brother and friend are also hilarious, and I can totally relate to Odile's love of collecting strays. Great book!
I enjoyed this, with a couple of exceptions that kept it from being a 5 star. Spoilers follow:
Odette's is never believable as any kind of bad guy, so her prioritizing 'smuggling' over anything else was an annoyingly obvious red herring. Rothbart felt very cardboard, and not the manipulator I feel he was meant to be.
I was always fascinated by Odette and Odile . The story seems to be somehow lacking the punch of Beauty and the Beast . I want more details like what happens to Odile ? Why was her mother wanting to hurt her ? What happens when Odette and the prince get married . who does prince yakov end up with ? What happens to Odile's latest pet ? The story is good . Want more details !!
Like K. M. Shea's other fairy tale adaptations, Swan Lake features a clever and calculating version of Odette who leads and protects the other cursed swans of the lake. For this reason, she is given the nickname "Swan Queen" like in the ballet, though her shortcomings prevent her from wearing that title with pride. Odette was the first of Rothbart's victims Unlike the others, she came to him voluntarily in exchange for paying off her family's debt. Just like in the original story, Odette, along with Rothbart's other victims, are swans by day and humans by night. Odette trains the others to do smuggling jobs for an unknown client while also working to keep their curse a secret by preventing others from coming near the lake in case Rothbart finds them and curses them as well.
Her plan works out just fine for four years until two princes discover the secret of Swan Lake and insist on trying to help find a way to break curse despite Odette's numerous protests. One major difference between this version and the ballet as well as Richard Rich's famous film is that instead of making the prince's companion a bumbling friend who has no real significance to the story, Alexsei visits Swan Lake with his brother Yakov, who is a self-proclaimed expert at charming ladies. Odette's lack of interest in Yakov is a tribute to her astute ability to see past people's outward appearances. In fact, she finds Yakov just as cheesy as any modern princess would find a superficial prince of old. Odette's relationship with Alexsei is slow and filled with doubt due to a lack of self-esteem on both sides. Alexsei sees himself as unworthy of love due to living in his brother's shadow, and Odette views herself as an unimportant peasant in spite of her strong leadership abilities.
Rothbart's daughter Odile, while still Odette's foil, is very different from the dark seductress portrayed by Natalie Portman's character in the 2010 movie Black Swan. Since this version of Odette is a strong modern warrior as opposed to the frightened mousy version in the ballet, Odile is shy and delicate to contrast her. Also in contrast to the original story, is on Odette's side in wanting to stop her father, making things rather awkward when Rothbart transforms her into an Odette lookalike at the ball to try to fool the princes. Odile's mother is mentioned on occasion, but never seen in the context of the book. She is implied to be a wicked sorceress like Rothbart. Though she does not inherit all of her parents' magic, Odile has an enchanted flute that she uses to tame wild animals, which comes in handy when Rothbart releases some extremely dangerous wyverns near the end of the book.
It seems to me that K. M. Shea is a lot better at writing high fantasy than she is at realistic romance stories. She was able to bring the myth of the selkies to life in The Little Selkie. With Swan Lake, she brings us a fully realized world of dark magic, dragons, and magical transformations. I found Odette to be a lot easier to relate to than Elle from Beauty and the Beast because she keeps fewer secrets from the audience, and her intentions of protecting everyone under Rothbart's spell were clear from the beginning. It was interesting to see the unassuming Prince Alexsei strip down her protective layers one by one until they both saw each other for who they truly are. I really enjoyed this version of "Swan Lake" and felt that it added a much-needed modern perspective to the classic ballet.
I agree with the 3 star review that mentions that the book was rushed and not a lot of time was spent on the characters. Just looking at the number of chapters in the book, it seems like this novel was very short, and it read that way too. I don't know if Shea also wrote it quickly and wanted to get it out, but I think some slower scenes that developed the major characters could have improved the experience a lot. Odette and Alexsei's relationship does come out of nowhere, and even now I wonder why he bothered going up to Swan Lake in the first place. I would have liked to see more of Odette with the female characters, like Nadia or Odile or Benno (especially Benno). And Yakov and Rothbart each could have been more developed: they're both flat characters that rely on stereotypes, and Rothbart's motivations at the end lack a real impact because you never get to know him. Also, why did the swans pick up smuggling in the first place?
Regardless, the book is a fun read, and I do recommend it. It's a little more isolated than some of the other novels seem to be, but it still works. I will say that if Shea eventually plans to go somewhere with the overarching plot, I think it would be a good time to start strengthening the ties between the characters (beyond Angelique constantly popping up. Where are all the other mages in the world, exactly?) You hear about the summit, which is an idea she presents in the freebies on her website, but I do think that the plot needs to start moving towards the big end battle.
But you should read this book, I swear. It's good. Odette is a mix of some of the other heroines but still has her own strong presence.