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Princess of the Wild Swans (Fairy Tale Princesses)

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  811 ratings  ·  93 reviews
Based on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Wild Swans,” this enchanting fantasy by Diane Zahler, author of The Thirteenth Princess and A True Princess, is a tale of family, bravery . . . and a terrible spell.

Princess Meriel’s brothers have been cursed. An evil enchantment cast by their conniving new stepmother has transformed the handsome princes into swans. They now swim for
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published January 31st 2012 by HarperCollins
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(showing 1-30 of 2,837)
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Short and Sweet: Powerful storytelling filled with adventure and heart. A fairytale for all ages!

Full Review Originally Posted at There's A Book: An adventurous princess trapped by the bounds placed upon her by her title is freed to become the person she’d always dreamed about, but is the cost too high? Princess Meriel’s father, the King, returns from a recent trip with a new wife at his side. With her brothers and father entranced by the new Queen it’s up to Meriel to dispel the mystery surroun
Mundie Moms & Mundie Kids
What an enchanting read! I love a well written fairy tale re-telling and Diane has done a wonderful job with her story of Meriel and her brothers whom are all turned into swans. I really enjoyed being swept away with the classic fairytale aspect of this story. There's magic, danger, a lovely, well written innocent romance, witches and fey lore. Plus I love that it takes a Princess and good hearted towns people to bring down a wicked, evil witch.

Princess Meriel is a fabulously written, strong you
Twelve-year-old Princess Meriel is the only girl in a family with five older brothers. Her mother died when she was very young, so it has just been Meriel, her brothers, and their father, the King, for as long as she can remember. Then one day her father returns home with a new wife, Lady Orianna. From the start, Meriel hates Lady Orianna. She doesn't trust her, especially after overhearing her argue with her father over the fact that if she has a son, he will never be king with five older broth ...more
The Wild Swans is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, my favorite fairy tale. I've only read one other retelling, The Swan Kingdom. Both books are alike in that they are loosely inspired by the tale.

It's a sweet story with some good moral lessons - i.e., don't be lazy, ask for help, be nice to animals - and is well suited for younger audiences.

I was pretty disappointed that it missed the sticking point of the original tale: the heroine spent 7 years without speaking, destroying her hands with stinging
3.5 stars

Princess of the Wild Swans by Diane Zahler was a super cute, fast read. I had so much fun reading and am excited to check out Diane Zahler's other books after this.
The beginning was a bit disjointed for me, and I didn't really get into Princess of the Wild Swans until probably a third of the way in. Then I was super invested in it, and didn't want to put it down. I loved trying to figure out what would happen next. I wish this one had been a bit longer, as I would have loved to know wha
This novel takes its theme from one of the lesser known European fairy tales, one dealing with a dangerous, jealous stepmother and the seven boys she curses. The story wastes little time on the magical aspect of it—one moment a girl has five brothers (reduced from the original seven); the next moment they’re gone, changed into swans without so much as a warning to the reader.

What the book does is take us into the life of Princess Meriel as she struggles with the menial tasks of gathering nettle
There’s something magical about a fairytale. Maybe it’s the tradition behind it, or the shared heritage behind stories that get passed down. Either way, I love reading fairytale retellings. Diane Zahler is becoming one of my favorite middle grade authors as she continues to put a captivating spin on fairy tales with her latest, Princess Of The Wild Swans.

Read the rest of my review here
Meg McGregor
This is the second time I have read this book. I really enjoyed it!

I love the way Ms. Zahler writes and how she intertwines the traditional fairy tale of The Wild Swans with an entirely new story about Princess Merial saving her brothers who have been turned into swans.

I have always loved the story of the princes who are changed into swans by an evil enchantress and the courage of the sister who loves them to change them back.

This version is one of the best I have ever read. I simply could not
Another great princess story! I really love Diane Zahler and her wonderful versions of fairy tales. Even the ones I am familiar with are totally changed with her perspective.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
A vivid retelling of the fairy tale. I liked how the author brings characters and setting to life and deepened the plot by melding it with a battle with faery.

Two huge differences in this retelling were the timing (more like 7 weeks than 7 years) and the tokenism of her elective mutism, since she can still 'speak' with a lot of other characters telepathically. For me, these two changes hugely lessened the impact of her suffering.

However, it lightened the mood a lot. I also liked the way her bro
This was a really great re-working of the old Wild Swans fairy tale. It really fleshes out a great story, with the young heroine overcoming her selfishness and drawing on her love for her brothers for her strength and perseverence. It was an enjoyable read, even as an adult, with enough suspense and action to keep it interesting, but light enough knowing it'll have a happy ending. The story takes place in a fantasy world, with witches, monsters, faeries, etc., so there's a few 'scary' moments, b ...more
Becky B
Princess Meriel gets the shock of her life when her father returns from a trip with a new wife. It might not be a bad thing, but Lady Orianna gives Meriel the creeps. Just days after her arrival, she announces that all five of Meriel's older brothers have been sent off to school, yes, even the ones too old for school. Meriel is convinced she's done something terrible to them instead, and a walk by the pond confirms her worst fears. For there are five new swans on the lake, each with human eyes t ...more
Good for Elementary age perhaps not for adults.

I have always been fascinated with this fairy tale but this version was a disappointment. After her brothers become enchanted as swans the princess must maintain total vocal silence as she completes a difficult and painful task to break the spell keeping them as swans. This princess cannot talk aloud but she talks mind to mind with several characters. Thus the vow of silence is not a trial at all. The task which in most versions takes years is done
The Winter Rose
Like the rest of Zahler's work that I've read, "Princess of the Wild Swans" proves to be just as sweet and simple as her previous fairy tale retellings, "The Thirteenth Princess" and "A True Princess".

"Princess of the Wild Swans" is a retelling of the fairy tale "The Wild Swans". Princess Meriel is our lead protangonist. She must find a way to save her five brothers who have been enchanted into the form of swans by their wicked stepmother, Lady Orianna.

Much like her other works I've read, Zahl
Princess of the Wild Swans by Diane Zahler is a retelling of the Six Swans. The story follows Meriel the only daughter in the kings household. She adores her brothers and when her father comes home with a new wife who seems to resent their existence Meriel becomes worried. After the new Queen sends her brothers to school Meriel is suspicious. When she finds a new group of swans on the lake that seem like her brothers she knows that something is wrong. She soon finds out that they've been enchant ...more
"The Wild Swans" was one of my all-time favorite Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales, and I have always wished that someone would do a retelling of it. I am pleased to say that Diane Zahler did an excellent job in reworking this magical tale. Meriel is a strong heroine who is quick to understand what the Queen is trying to do, while the rest of her family is blind to it. And when Meriel is ignored and the Queen changes her brothers into swans, Meriel doesn't waste any time in getting help. She i ...more
This review was first posted at

Presenting Ruby and Small's First Ever Joint Review!

The Characters
You're probably going to be sick and tired of me saying things like this, but Princess of the Wild Swans' Meriel couldn't hold a candle to Daughter of the Forest's Sorcha. She was spoiled and a bit thin on personality and character development. I know that I should expect a princess to be a bit spoiled, but I do expect spoiled characters to move, gradually toward a pl
Barb Middleton
"Read this! Read this!" I look down at the beautiful renaissance-type artwork on the cover of Diane Zahler's newest book that a 5th grader has shoved in my hands. What makes the students love her books? I know that one appeal is the cover, but I suspect that the stronger appeal is the inherent goodness of the teenage characters who are beginning to experience romantic feelings for each other. The stories are fast-paced and easy-to-read. They are not multi-layered but have plenty of action and in ...more
Hafsah Laziaf
This review was written by my eleven year old sister, Asma.

When twelve-year-old Princess Meriel’s father marries Lady Orianna strange things start happening in the castle. When Meriel’s five brothers are sent off to school by Lady Orianna, five new swans now swim in the heart shaped lake right outside of the walls of the castle. Princess Meriel soon finds out that the swans are no ordinary swans but her brothers! Finding out the truth about Lady Orianna, Meriel now must do an unthinkable task th
Shannon Kitchens
A very fun and well done "Six Swans" retelling. It's a quick read that I really enjoyed.

Sometimes, I find a medieval setting can be a drag, but the writing is smooth and never gets to historical. Zahler keeps the tone and voice simple but developed which leads to great fairy tale tone throughout. I really, really appreciate that.

I enjoy Meriel as a character and her spunky but princess enough voice. I especially loved how she hated sewing, that it was expected of her as a lady, and that she need
This is the second book by Zahler I read, and I loved it even more than the other. She manages to do a great job of taking a well-known (and beloved) fairy tale, and telling it in a way that both stays faithful to the original while bringing something new to the table. I love how carefully she walks the line, allowing us to imagine some future romance or other, but being very careful to not let that overwhelm the story. I am very very very impressed. Highly recommend.
Great fantasy for younger readers. I enjoyed her particular retelling with one exception (view spoiler) Other than that, it was fine. A nice coming of age.

I did like that at 12 the heroine was NOT crushing
As someone who reads a lot of retold fairy tales I found this one lacking.

It did not do enough to develop the characters and make their changes believable. One second she is still only thinking of herself a few pages later she is acting for the good of others.

I've read this story told by other authors and it was told better by them.

It was not awful and if you want a book that tells this story it will do.
Aug 06, 2014 Ellie rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: 8 - 11 year olds
It was alright.

I chose to read it because I love fairytales, myths and legends :)

Unfortunately, in this retelling the characters weren't developed - the reader was simply told what people were like. I also felt that the first person narration was stilted and, on a separate note, too repetitive.

On the other hand though, there was a sparkle to the book and I think that 8 - 11 year olds would enjoy it.
Anna Meghan
***I received a free copy through goodreads giveaways***

When I signed up for the giveaway for this book I didn't relize the age group this was meant for. For some one in the 8-12 age group I think this would be an easy entertaining read that parents could feel okay about their children reading. Some books written for children can be great reads for adults as well and this one wasn't part of that catagory. I found it a little simplistic and downplayed a lot of the difficulties of the original sto
OH MY GOSH! What an amazing story! I've become a real huge fan of these princesses stories by Diane Zahler! They are SO GOOD!

The book felt longer than what it was, not that it's a bad thing! It's just that there was so many exciting events that happened you'd think it was longer! Every chapter had something exciting to tell, and I never got bored. And you know what was cool? How all these scenes merged into one in the end, making complete sense. I LOVE plots like that.

The characters were also gr
Kimberly Fields
Pricess of the Wild Swans was a fun retelling of a less well-known fairytale. I enjoyed the light read, but I didn't feel like the story was particularly memorable. The characters were all pretty flat and the story was pretty predictable. It's a fun book if you just want brain-candy and fluff, but there's not much substance to it.
Aug 13, 2012 Elevetha rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Lovers of fairytales retold, reimagined, or twisted on it's side
3 1\2 stars. A retelling of the The Wild Swans. The writing is superb, flowing and weaving, it draws you into Meriel's enchanted world. Meriel's five brothers are transformed into swans by Meriel's full witch stepmother.(Yes, an actual witch) Not all witches are bad, in fact, Meriel's friends are half-witches. Liam and Riona were a lovely brother and sister duo. Meriel must complete what seems an impossible task: weaving stinging nettles into shirts for her brothers, all without saying a word. W ...more
Cecilia Rodriguez
This is an old legend, with several countries of origin, including Wales.
The number of brothers is either seven, like Zahler's version, or twelve.
For readers who are curious to learn what becomes of the youngest brother, read: "The Seventh Swan."
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I grew up reading children's books and never wanted to do anything but write them. I'm the author of THE THIRTEENTH PRINCESS, A TRUE PRINCESS, PRINCESS OF THE WILD SWANS, SLEEPING BEAUTY'S DAUGHTERS, and the upcoming BAKER'S MAGIC. I live in the country with my husband in what is aptly nicknamed the Bug House. Visit my website at

More about Diane Zahler...

Other Books in the Series

Fairy Tale Princesses (4 books)
  • The Thirteenth Princess
  • A True Princess
  • Sleeping Beauty's Daughters
The Thirteenth Princess A True Princess Sleeping Beauty's Daughters Test Your Cultural Literacy IQ: Updated & Revised The Black Death

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