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Princess of the Wild Swans (Fairy Tale Princesses)

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  964 Ratings  ·  104 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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Community Reviews

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Jan 17, 2012 Rebecca rated it really liked it
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
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
Shanshad Whelan
Feb 22, 2012 Shanshad Whelan rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, childrens, mg
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bridget R. Wilson
Like all good fairy tales, this one begins with a stepmother and a curse. The new queen wants her future children to inherit the throne not one of her five stepsons. She turns them into swans and it's up their younger sister Meriel to rescue them.

What I thought: This is a fairy tale I'm less familiar with, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Meriel is a strong character. I don't know which would be worse--stinging nettles or not speaking. Her friendship with Riona and Liam is nice. Middle Grade retel
Anna Meghan
Jun 26, 2012 Anna Meghan rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
***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
Feb 12, 2012 Erica rated it really liked it
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
Miss Clark
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
This book was just blasé. It followed the format of the tale most people are familiar with, though it added some small details to make it slightly different. But it wasn’t enough to feel fully fleshed out. Overall, I was not impressed with the story or the characterization and I never really felt like I was inside their heads or cared too much about their feelings. That sounds a little harsh, but what I’m trying to say is that I wished there was more depth to this story. I had a hard time liking ...more
Hafsah Faizal
Feb 02, 2012 Hafsah Faizal rated it really liked it
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
Oct 14, 2012 April rated it really liked it
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
Apr 27, 2012 Mara rated it really liked it
"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
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
Feb 28, 2012 Kara rated it it was amazing
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.
Barb Middleton
Mar 01, 2012 Barb Middleton rated it liked it
Shelves: fairy-tale
"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
Apr 25, 2012 Sara rated it it was amazing
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
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
Jun 24, 2012 Skedatt rated it liked it
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
Aug 14, 2016 Hattie rated it it was amazing

Princess of the Wild Swans by Diane Zahler is about hate and love in the land of fairy tales. I have loved reading this book so much. It took me aways from the world of stress and worry. I have decided to read the rest of the series. The tale begins with a queen cursing her stepsons. She changes the boys to swans. Their sister, the Princess, is heartbroken. Finally, there is a way to turn the curse. She must sew shirts of stinging nettles for each brother. Her hands become ugly and sore.

On my fa
Jul 10, 2012 Amy rated it liked it
Like the fairy tale of the Goose Girl or the 12 Dancing Princesses, the story of the princess and the swans is an often forgotten fairy tale brought to a more public prominence by fairy tale writers. Princess of the Wild Swans is just that. Its a beautiful, charmingly done version of an already known fairy tale. Zahler does a wonderful job. While not adding anything neccesarily new, she creates characters and fleshes them out. Her writing is smooth and easy to go with. Her main character, Princ ...more
The Winter Rose
Jun 04, 2013 The Winter Rose rated it liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
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
Aug 13, 2012 Elevetha rated it liked it
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
Jan 27, 2013 Candy rated it really liked it
Shelves: j-books
This was one of my favorite versions of the princess and the swans story. It is different than the others I have read because she could tell others what she had to do rather than keep it a secret. I liked how the author took a spoiled princess at the beginning and by the end of the story she had turned her into a humble and lovable character. The plot was very thorough and did not leave me with too many questions. As a hopeless romantic I did wonder what was going to happen between Liam and Meri ...more
Feb 05, 2015 Melody rated it liked it
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
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
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
Jul 22, 2015 A B rated it liked it
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
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
Jul 23, 2016 Julianne rated it really liked it
Great retelling of The Seven Swans, a lesser known fairytale. Meriel was a fun heroine, not very ladylike but extraordinarily determined. It was recognizably The Seven Swans, always a good thing. It's a middle grade novel, pretty short and easy to read. I kind of wish authors wouldn't always make the heroines unruly, unladylike princesses. There's nothing wrong with it, of course, but a ladylike, obedient princess would have an even harder time disobeying her parents and doing all of this. Jus ...more
Lucy March
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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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 my newest, 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

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