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The Swan Kingdom

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  4,118 Ratings  ·  367 Reviews
"Marriott notes Andersen’s ‘The Wild Swans’ as her inspiration, but the novel is entirely her own, full of narrative power and magic." — BOOKLIST

When Alexandra’s mother is slain by an unnatural beast, shadows fall on the once-lush kingdom. Too soon the widowed king is entranced by a cunning stranger — and in one chilling moment Alexandra’s beloved brothers disappear, and s
Paperback, 272 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by Candlewick Press (first published March 5th 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Nov 11, 2008 Lia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: retellings
This book gets off on the wrong foot and never quite recovers. It ends on the wrong foot, too.

The opening lines of Chapter 1: "You probably know me already. In every story you've ever been told, someone like me exists. A figure in the background, barely noticed by the main players. A talentless, unwanted child. The ugly one. The ugly one only gets in the way. She is as out of place as a sparrow in a clutch of swans."

From those opening lines, I expected to hear more about what made her the ugly,
Sana  Khalid °¤°
I don't know the whole swan retelling so I can't judge the book and state whether or not the book did a good job at retelling it.

Despite its flaws, I really enjoyed this book.

Reasons to read:
-It's a YA fantasy stand alone.
-Likeable and flawed MC: Alexandra is described as plain, ugly, and bland. She's not a normal pretty princess.
-Very fast paced.
-Cute romance: Though there isn't much romance development, it was still likeable.
-Evil step-mom.
-Heroine doesn't lust after the love interest
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Natalie Tsang for

As the brightly colored cover suggests, Zoë Marriott's novel THE SWAN KINGDOM is a fantastical read. It is the retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's THE WILD SWANS, a fairy tale that I had never heard of, but that has all the familiar bits and pieces like the evil stepmother, enchanted gardens, and animal transformations. It also has a spunky, magically terrific but socially awkward princess-protagonist named Alexandra.

A few of my friends dislike r
3.5 stars, this book has the potential to become a four stars read but in the middle of the story, I realize the characters aren't shaped up enough (though most of them do have their moments), resulting in this retelling of The Wild Swans losing its depth (and the plot twist about (view spoiler) is very cheesy), still the ending is nice and I'm glad to see the author has wisely kept the romance low-keyed and made her heroine focusing ...more
Loved it. An awesome retelling. Marriott's writing was very clear and intricate. I was impress how easily she described and related magical situations and feelings that are normally difficult to understand and imagine.
Sep 08, 2008 Julie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fun light romance and magic. Alexandra, the main character, has the gift to work with the power of the earth. She knows about healing herbs and works small magics that her mother taught her. When her mother is killed by a wild beast, and her father is enchanted and tricked into marrying the evil being that killed her mother, Alexandra is on her own. Her 3 loving brothers have also been banished, but she can't quite remember what happened to them. She must learn who she is and what her powers are ...more
It's so hard for me not to compare any retelling that even toucheson swans (The Wild Swans, The Six Swans, doesn't matter) without comparing it to Daughter of the Forest , so I was really worried going in that I would unconsciously (or even consciously) be setting The Swan Kingdomup to fail. But it amazed me how little I felt myself needing to compare. This isn't to say I didn't compare, because I definitely did,especially when it comes to the depth of the story (in which case I compared it to ...more
I am such a sucker for pretty covers. I swear, it's like I don't even read the premise and just dive in. Well, I at least knew it was a fairy tale retelling and I love those, so I couldn't pass this one up. I've never read the original tale this is based on but I would like to, I just need to find the time to get to them, so keep that in mind.

The first half of this book (or part one) was excruciating to get through. The beginning of the book was so melodramatic and filled with lots of; my father
May 17, 2008 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fairy tale fans, incurable romantics
Shelves: teen
I really enjoyed this poetic retelling of the Six Swans fairy tale. Alexandra, youngest child of the king, is an ugly little thing, but useful. She can use the enaid, the power of the land, to do little things like healing and talking to the beasts and creatures of the land. Her mother's ability to wield the enaid is greater and soaks through the kingdom, bringing lush growth and bountiful crops. Alexandra's three brothers, David, Hugh and Robin, posses little of the gift, but have their own str ...more
Anne Osterlund
Alexandra isn’t special. At least not to her father. Her mother tells her about the special magic of the Enaid—that one day Alexandra will be the one protect the source that nurtures the land and the animals of the Kingdom.

But when the true test comes, her mother is no longer there.

Alexandra’s father rides into the forest to battle the evil responsible and returns with a woman named Zella who reeks of blood.

Will Alexandra’s own powers ever be strong enough to defend the Kingdom against the beast
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
3.25 out of 5

Good, but not on the same level as her later novels. Clearly a debut, Marriott demonstrates a lot of the same skills (strong female character, unique magic, compelling storytelling) that she will continue to mature in her later work.

A bit simplistic, a bit too easily resolved at the end, still, The Swan Kingdom was entertaining and creative. A fun read, if an easy one.
Alexandra is youngest child and only daughter of the King & Queen and has always felt like an ugly duckling amongst her family. She loves spending time with her mother and brothers but doesn't get on so well with her father who finds her a disappointment because she isn't pretty enough. She loves learning about the healing properties of plants and how to use the magic of the earth from her mother and has become a skilled healer. Alexandra's life changes dramatically when her mother is killed ...more
Sep 23, 2009 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
I think this book would have worked better had it broken completely from the fairy tale (six swans—or any of the other many versions by which it’s known) since the connection to the original was so thin. I liked the magical kingdom, with its matriarchal, druid feel. However, I was frequently confused by setting, as I was constantly being surprised by more advanced technologies than I expected in the area. I was disappointed that the nettles played so little a role in the book and that the proble ...more
Jul 12, 2011 Eafiu rated it it was amazing
Well... I haven't cried like that in a long time.

Wow, I can't say anything. No, really, I can't think of a word. These sentences were written minutes apart from each other. (Okay, I couldn't even understand what I meant, sorry.)

Just read it. Do I have to do everything around here?
Oct 08, 2011 Ashley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, fairy-tales, blog
Originally reviewed on my blog, Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing.

The Swan Kingdom by Zoë Marriott is one of my favorite fairy tale retellings of all time. I love it. Zoë has taken the old tale, The Wild Swans and made it completely her own. She wrote us an absolutely lovely guest post that talks about the book far better than I could, so I'm going to link it here.

Alexandra is the young daughter of a distant and disappointing father and a warm, loving and magical mother. Her father is disint
Jade Walker
Jun 10, 2011 Jade Walker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rated-a
Original review at

That's what the blurb says and I have to admit, after first reading that, it sounded like every other magical fantasy out there. I bought it though, simply for the fact that the cover art was absoloutely stunning. Let's put it like this though. I started the book on the car ride home and I had finished it two hours later. This title is the one that showed me that a book can be beautiful.

Everything about this book is gorgeous, from the way tha
One thing I can say about Zoe Marriott is that she knows how to write a Prince-Charming-type character! I enjoyed her writing style whilst reading Daughter of the Flames, and the love interest she created, and since then I’ve been waiting to read more of her stuff.

The Swan Kingdom is loosely based around The Wild Swans by Hans Christian Anderson, but the key word here is loosely. I admit, I’m not over familiar with that particular story, but from what I remember, whilst parallels between this b
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kimberly Hirsh
Sep 21, 2009 Kimberly Hirsh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After Princess Alexandra's mother is killed, her father marries a woman who charms the kingdom. Alexandra and her brothers, however, believe that this woman is a shape-shifter, the beast who killed their mother in human form. After an ill-fated attempt to prove this goes awry, Alexandra is banished and her brothers disappear. As she lives with her aunt, Alexandra begins to understand the nature of her own magical power.

I can't say much more without giving away details of the plot that I think re
I really liked Marriott’s Shadows on the Moon and considering her superior writing skills, happily dived into The Swan Kingdom expecting the same kind of crisp narrative, plotting and character development that made me like Shadows on the Moon so much. However, while the writing skill is undeniable, I cannot say I enjoyed the novel as much as I liked Shadows on the Moon. I don’t even think it’s the novel’s fault. I just felt that it lacked the complexity I had expected of it.

Perhaps it was inten
Brandy Painter
Originally posted at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.

I read and reviewed Zoe Marriott's Shadows on the Moon earlier this year (my review) and decided to track down some of her other novels. I started with The Swan Kingdom, a retelling of "The Wild Swans", because I like fairy tale retellings.

The story is basically a longer version of the original giving a more detailed accounting between the time the brothers are turned to swans and Alexandra sets them free. Marriott does add her own little spin
Princess Debz
Originally posted on Debz Bookshelf

It’s so difficult to find words to properly describe my love of Zoe Marriott. This book was absolutely stunning. It’s hard to find a single fault within these pages. The writing was gorgeous. I knew it would be, but I loved it much more than I ever thought I could’ve. It flowed so gracefully, and told the story beautifully.

All the characters were amazing. They were realistic, but at the same time most certainly belonged in a fairy tale. Alexandra was a wonderfu
Oct 24, 2015 Luna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Re-read in 2012

Swan Kingdom was Zöe Marriott’s debut, I picked it up because I love retellings. I was not disappointed. Having re-read the book this year I found all manner of things I missed the first time round.

One of the things that Zöe Marriott excels in is creating strong yet believable heroines. Alexandra doesn’t have the greatest self-esteem, her mother and brothers love her, the relationship with her father is awkward. While she takes after her mother in the skills of a cunning woman Ale
Jan 24, 2010 Omly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is a retelling of the Six Swans, which has been done before as in Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier but still manages a few twists that were different.

Despite the description at the beginning of the story, there does not seem to be anything particularly nondescript about the main character, although she describes herself as "plain". She is a red haired, "leaf-green" eyed, willowy princess who can work magic. But we are to be convinced that she is pretty ordinary?

The telling of
Jan 17, 2011 Christiane rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, zoe-marriott
Beautiful rendition of Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tale of the the three swans and the princess, this novel enters the enchanted depths of magic. Some reviewers complained about the lack of descriptives towards the characters, but I see it as irrelevant to the story in question. As with all fairly tales, the author should leave some details out for the sake of the reader, that is, the reader should be able to identify with the main character. Therefore, the details can the left to the imagin ...more
I am being extra cranky about books at the moment, so I think this one gets three stars purely because I didn't grumble at it and I read it in record time. It's a relatively straightforward retelling of the fairytale about the girl whose brothers are turned into swans; it of course has an evil stepmother, and a love interest. I actually confess to being kind of interested in Gabriel, but his storyline didn't really come to much other than love interest -- though it's better than if he got all th ...more
I have mixed feelings about this book. I admit part of it is because I finished this while suffering from altitude sickness at my brother-in-law's aunt's house...

Some of the book I liked, such as how the parents, even the wise queen, weren't portrayed as infallible and lovely. And even the father was human, with flaws, but not one-dimensionally evil.

However, other parts were very confusing, or felt rushed. The ending was a bit weird and rushed. It builds up in her childhood, realizing she has po
Lisa  (Bookworm Lisa)
Jun 28, 2009 Lisa (Bookworm Lisa) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
I went on a three day vacation and decided to take on of my many books off my own shelf to read rather than the stack of library books.

I read this book in 2 1/2 day.s I really enjoyed it.

Alexandra is a princess and she has earth powers. She learns them from her mother, and her mother, etc. The power of communicating with the earth is hereditary.

As Alexandra grows and learns about womanhood her mother is attacked by a stange creature, and Alexandra and the other wise women can not heal her. Her
Feb 18, 2010 Tiffany rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
When Alexandra is 15, her mother (the queen) is killed by a monster in the woods. The king in his grief goes out to find the monster and comes back with a beautiful woman (the monster in a human guise) who has enchanted him. She exiles the three princes and sends Alexandra away from the kingdom, but Alexandra knows that she herself holds great power, and it is up to her to save her people and her kingdom.
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I've known that I wanted to be a writer since I finished reading my first book; 'The Magic Faraway Tree' by Enid Blyton. I think I was about eight, but I've never changed my mind in all the years since then.

I got my first publishing contract when I was twenty-two, but had to wait until I was twenty-four to see that book published (it was The Swan Kingdom).

I live in a little house in a town by the
More about Zoë Marriott...

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“To ugly ducklings everywhere,
Don't worry about those fluffy yellow morons:
They'll never get to be swans”
“My first memory is of the smell of sunwarmed earth.” 4 likes
More quotes…