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Princess of the Wild Swans

(Fairy Tale Princesses)

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  1,224 ratings  ·  122 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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Average rating 3.98  · 
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Caroline 💞🐉
Lara Mi

The black swan bends her graceful neck
And grooms herself with care;
Her onyx eyes are fathomless,
Her beak could rend and tear.

Princess Meriel's mother passed away when she was very young. As a result, she grew up among her five brothers and turned out to be a feisty princess who would rather study than sew. One day, her father brings home his new bride who is to be their stepmother and it is more than mere jealousy that makes Meriel dislike her. It is soon clear that the new queen is a witch
Literary  Chanteuse
Mar 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mg-fantasy
4.5 stars
Aug 13, 2012 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
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
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
Jun 14, 2011 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
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
Dec 24, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 08, 2012 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
Oct 03, 2014 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
Feb 10, 2012 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
Sep 09, 2014 rated it liked it
I featured this book in a post I did on short fairy tale retellings. :)

This novel is cute! It has believable, flawed, likable characters and a dash of Celtic magic. However, if given more pages, the story, world-building, and villain could have been more developed.
This is based on one of my least favorite versions (The Wild Swans) of one of my least favorite tale types (The Brothers Who Were Turned Into Birds), but Zahler's a good enough author that I enjoyed it anyway.
Feb 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: clean-teen
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.
Jan 30, 2020 rated it liked it
If you check my recent review backlog you can see that I've read about half of Diane Zahler's bibliography at this point. And this is the first one that I think is actually decent. This apparently came out at the same time as Sleeping Beauty's Daughters, but I'd say this is way better than that one though it has similar issues as all of her retellings.

Full disclosure, I've never read a Wild Swans retelling before so the feeling of freshness is most likely related to that. I've read tons of diff
Jan 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Princess of the Wild Swans is loosely based on the tale The Wild Swans by Hans Christen Anderson.

There were some nice original parts to this version, but it also had many problems.

- the princess stays in her kingdom during quest to break the spell and save her brothers/father/people.
- fun cast of characters
- not too long. Good for an afternoon read and fun for kids.

- The princess is 12 yet some of her thoughts/actions/responses are more in line with an older teenager.
Your Friendly Neighborhood INFP
Actual Rating: 4.5 Stars (seriously, when will they start doing half-stars?)

A fun middle-grade retelling of... *drumroll* The Wild Swans!

The MC, Meriel, is your typical twelve-year-old princess: spoiled, used to getting her own way, and overall a pretty annoying little sister. However, over the course of the book she realizes that the world doesn’t revolve entirely around her, and learns to put others ahead of herself. So if you dislike her at the beginning... she gets better.

Overall, this was
Aug 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A middle-grade retelling of the Hans Christian Anderson story. Characters were interesting and the MC had a decent arc. Having the sewing princess be a 12-year-old girl definitely changes the narrative and adds a different layer to her journey. The additional stakes of fairyland were interesting and made for a nice climax. The themes of family and friendship were lovely and overall it was just a nice quick read and good for younger kids.
Barb Middleton
Mar 01, 2012 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
Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, 5-stars
Probably my favorite Diane Zahler book. Honestly, I think I have read this book seven or eight times. It was so good and I love the romance, the jealousy, and the determination of this book and its characters. Definitely one of my favorites.
Nov 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: for-9
Not one of my favorite Fairy Tale re-tellings, not enough character development and story telling for me. But not terrible. Made it to number 4 for my 10 year old avid reader's top ten books. She is reading it aloud now to her younger sister (who shares the name of the heroine).
3.5 stars!
Based off one of my favorite fairytales, I really enjoyed how different Meriel's character was from other versions and the story behind their world and it's secrets. There was more magical things in this book that went rather nicely, and it was technically a middle grade too!
May 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, kids-books
A great re-telling of the story. I liked the way the witches were able to read her thoughts, it really helped things move along.
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was actually my least favorite of the series...but don't let my opinion scare you off! I loved this book! I think Diane Zhaler is an incredible author. I enjoyed all her books in this series.
Very good retelling. I have always liked "The Wild Swans". A big plus from the original story is that the sister can at least communicate thru her mind with her friends and allies.
Jul 14, 2018 rated it liked it
A quick fairy tale retelling of "The Wild Swans" by Hans Christian Anderson, from the POV of the younger sister.
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's more of a 3 and half stars for me. I would maybe read it again.
Cate Holley
Mar 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a beautifully written book, with a heartfelt plot line. I absolutely loved it!
Jan 21, 2020 rated it liked it
I read this to my 6 year old that loves princesses. I think it may been a little too long for her. She enjoyed the story. I will do better choosing shorter stories for her in the future.
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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, BAKER'S MAGIC, and my newest, THE MARVELWOOD MAGICIANS. I live in the country with my husband and very enthusiastic dog Jinx. Visit my website at


Other books in the series

Fairy Tale Princesses (4 books)
  • The Thirteenth Princess
  • A True Princess
  • Sleeping Beauty's Daughters

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