Princess Andaryn (Ryn) of Lacharra does not trust her stepmother one bit. Although the woman appears to have saved Ryn’s father while he was lost in the forest, the princess has noted a strange change in both her father and her six brothers. Ryn is determined to break the spell.

A violent confrontation with the new “queen” convinces the princes that Ryn is right. Her father, the King, is another matter. The Queen’s hold on him is strong, and she manages to have Ryn banished, but not before the Princess buys her brothers’ safety with her complete silence. To ensure the princes do not attempt to take back Lacharra, the Queen turns them into black swans who only assume their human form during a full moon. Ryn is more tenacious than the Queen realizes. She tracks down the only person who knows how to disarm the Queen’s power and begins a six year long process to save her brothers, her father and her homeland.

Sarah McGuire’s clever retelling of an old fairy tale demonstrates family loyalty and great courage. Ryn is willing to sacrifice her life and happiness to save her family and country. Her brothers are equally noble, and their healthy relationships give depth to the story. Unfortunately, several details make this book inappropriate for the publisher’s intended audience.  Multiple references to sexuality, Ryn’s habit of using an obscene gesture and a scene in which a young girl is severely beaten are out of place in a book for school age youngsters. What could have been a substantive book with well-developed plot and characters is a disappointment for parents looking for reliable modern literature for their children.

Jennifer Minicus is a teacher living in Ridgewood, NJ.

Jennifer Minicus

Jennifer Minicus lives in New Jersey with her husband and son. A former French, Latin and mathematics teacher, Jennifer currently enjoys the responsibilities of a "domestic engineer", particularly making...