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Feather Bound

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When Deanna's missing friend Hyde turns up at his father's funeral to claim his corporate empire and inheritance, she is swept into his glittering world of paparazzi and wealth.

But re-kindling her friendship and the dizzying new emotions along for the ride are the least of her concerns. Because Deanna has a secret – and somebody knows. Someone who is out to get Hyde. And if she doesn't play along, and help the enemy destroy him…she will be sold to the highest bidder in the black market for human swans.

Now Deanna is struggling to break free from the gilded cage that would trap her forever…

Feather Bound is a dark debut reminiscent of Gabriel García Márquez's A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings, and the twisted truth behind the fairy tale of Cinderella.

304 pages

First published January 1, 2014

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About the author

Sarah Raughley

8 books494 followers
Sarah Raughley grew up in Southern Ontario writing stories about freakish little girls with powers because she secretly wanted to be one. She is a huge fangirl of anything from manga to SF/F TV to Japanese Role Playing Games, but she will swear up and down that she was inspired by ~Jane Austin~ at book signings. On top of being a YA Writer, she is currently completing a PhD in English, because the sight of blood makes her queasy (which crossed Medical School off the list).

She is represented by The Bradford Literary Agency.

So far, you can also find her on Twitter, where work ethic goes to die.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 59 reviews
Profile Image for Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ .
1,257 reviews8,676 followers
February 10, 2016
This is the second time I've tried to finish this book. The first was several weeks ago, and I made it to 12% before needing a break. The time I made it to 28% and. I. Am. Done.

There is no world-building.

The book begins with Deanna's family getting ready to go to the funeral of an old family friend. A family friend who sounds a lot like any number of men you'd find on the Forbes' Richest People in America list. A family friend whose dead son was Deanna's best childhood friend (except he came across as more of an over-eager puppy who was indulged). A family friend who enslaved his wife.

Enslaved his wife? What do you mean?!

Well, apparently, roughly 3% of the world's population are really swans, and if you steal their feathers, you can control them.


But where did these swans come from?

That's an excellent question. It's also a question I have no answer to.

Why not?


Deanna and family are at the funeral when a girl shows up in a trench coat, takes advantage of the paparazzi to soapbox, and then further demonstrates her flare for the dramatic by flinging open her coat, baring her feathers (and breasts) to the world.

That is all the introduction to the existence of swans that you get.

But wait--it gets worse . . .

Deanna is wandering around the graveyard on the way to the reception when she sees a lone boy (about her age--she can tell this at quite a distance from the view of his back) standing in front of Enslaving Family Friend's tombstone. Curious, she wanders closer, only to discover *gasps again* it's Hyde!

Hyde her not-so-dead-after-all childhood best friend.

And not just any old Hyde. A new and improved Hyde. A Hyde who is mischievously good-looking. A Hyde who dresses like a hipster (b/c all the girls LOVE hipsters). A Hyde who, despite his obvious confidence (from the whole minute and a half of their interaction), is clearly nervous about her reaction to him.

Oh, for the love of god.

This is especially annoying, b/c if you read the blurb, you know that this book is described as, "a dark debut reminiscent of Gabriel García Márquez's A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings, and the twisted truth behind the fairy tale of Cinderella."

And it is dark in places, I'll give it that. But Gabriel García Márquez dark? Not hardly. Neither did it have anything to do with, "the twisted truth behind the fairy tale of Cinderella."

Ladies and gents, if you somehow don't already know, fairy tales are kind of my thing. I was raised on them. Spent my first paycheck when I was 16 y.o. on a massive collection of the original Grimm's Fairy Tales. The original German versions that I've been familiar with since I was 10.

Anyway, the point is that the dark and nasty part of the original Cinderella didn't really have anything to do with enslavement. Ashenputtl was overworked and under appreciated by her stepmother, who was definitely a hateful woman, but she wasn't an owned individual who could lawfully be executed should she displease her Mistress.

If there was anything particularly dark about the story, it would have had to do with the step-sisters cutting off large portions of their feet in an attempt to force a shoe to fit.

When a book is described as being part specific fairy tale, I expect it to share fantastical elements with the fairy tale it's being compared to. This does not. If you're going to use "slavery" as a generic umbrella term, It would be more honest to compare it to Uncle Tom's Cabin, but that probably wouldn't sell as many books to the target demographic, so somebody decided to be disingenuous instead.

Then again, I quit at 28%. Who knows? Maybe a fairy godmother shows up further down the road.

But I doubt it.
Profile Image for Leontiy [princeofbookandbone].
242 reviews24 followers
March 13, 2014
Sometimes a book surprises me; mostly it’s always in a bad way. But Feather Bound, by Sarah Raughley, surprised the hell out of me by being not only a brave novel in so many ways, but also by being utterly stunning and completely honest to life. It’s rare that I read something as truly dark and honest as Feather Bound and the five-star rating is so well-deserved I can’t help but ramble on about this book to anyone who will listen—and anyone who won’t, for that matter!

Beneath the glittery façade that Feather Bound might present, lurks a darker undertone that nobody talks about. It is at once like homosexuality and the “don’t ask, don’t tell” mentality, the prejudice and the frosty reception it can receive, all coupled with the shocking truth of both rape, abuse and sexual threat.

That sounds heavy. Honestly, if that were the cover copy, I might not have read it. I don’t read books that strive to convey a social or mental truth or insight into the human condition; I just don’t. But what I do read are fantasy and urban fantasy novels that wrap issues in layers of story and character, cushioning whatever point is being examined with a tapestry of prose that invites the reader into an almost-the-same world and delivers an engaging story before revealing, bit-by-by, casually and softly, the darkness that lurks beneath. That, I happen to love. It doesn’t shoe-horn anything; it doesn’t trigger or shock or point its finger.

But what it does do it create an expertly crafted tale that reads almost like a modern fairy tale that’s been taken and turned on its head, giving it a different purpose that subverts the expected but still dazzles and glitters in the light. That is Feather Bound. Raughley has written a modern, urban fairy tale that plays on so many of the small details expected from fairy tales and fables, and transformed them into something completely different.

It’s difficult to pour my heart into this review without extreme spoilers—so I won’t. I’ll hold back, somehow. (Honest: this is me holding back.)

When Deanna’s childhood friend returns from being dead—you know, something that happens every day—Dee isn’t sure she wants to reconnect with him. The son of a magazine mogul, Hyde has always been rich, famous and privileged. But now he’s very much alive and for years she missed him; she mourned him when she was just a kid. Coupled with the effects of the death of her mother, Dee is a little sensitive. There’s little chance that Hyde, however close they were as children, will find a way to break through her impenetrable armour. It’s not easy being the youngest of three sisters, when she’s neither the one who married rich nor the one who doesn’t give a shit.

But Dee does give a shit: maybe too much. She’s the one who has a job to try to help cover rent, the one who tries to take care of their drunk father, whose life has been on almost-shutdown since his wife died. Plus there’s no help coming from Erika’s rich husband, who controls the money like a miser counting pennies, always knowing what goes where. And none of it goes to help the Davis’ cover rent.

Yet Hyde always was oddly persistent and he might not give Dee a choice but to forgive him. When he talks about being away, something about him seems off—but what can Dee do when she’s still so mad and she never knows what’s true or not with Hyde? He always was a trickster, after all.

But one day, everything changes. It starts with pain and then fear. The denial comes next—but there’s no denying the feathers and what they mean. There is no denying that she is a swan. But with this sudden transformation comes a world of dangers that Dee hasn’t even entertained before. Suddenly she is something to be bought and sold, something to be coveted and owned, abused and hurt. Nobody ever reveals that they’re a swan, so how can Dee tell her family, or even Hyde?

But someone has found out and now Dee must do all she can to avoid both what she’s being blackmailed to do, and failing at the set task. If she does, she’ll be sold into swan slavery—and having seen first-hand just what a swan can be made to do, Dee will do anything to avoid being plunged into that sordid black market of rape and abuse.

Is it possible to do all this alone? And if not, who can she turn to after years of sealing herself away behind all the walls that she used to think kept her safe? Dee now finds herself alone and in need of help. With her world in tatters around her and a more tangled web of deception and darkness than she could ever imagine just out of reach, Dee will need to keep her feathers save, lest the same fate befalls her. Swans are for sale in this world, and Dee doesn’t want to end up as one of them.

This is a gorgeous, beautiful story that ticked so many of the boxes that I usually don’t even bother thinking about, because nobody ever even comes close to checking them off. Raughley is a dream in that she recognises that abuse isn’t something that happens exclusively to girls; that rape isn’t a solely-female problem. Both sexes can become swans and Raughley never lets the reader forget it. This is probably a more feminist book than any I’ve read in the past few years: this book recognises true equality. The kind that says boys get hurt and abused too. And I adored it.

Feather Bound is a shockingly twisted, delightfully dark story that wowed me from the start. The casual delivery of every issue is perfect and skilful. This story is about who you are and what the world makes you. It explores family and familial love. It subverts the image of the nuclear family and paints a fairly sad picture of real life, yet it is not as depressing as it should be, populated by rich and deep characters whose lives are spread bare on the page, under full scrutiny. This book demonstrates perfectly that nobody in your life is perfect—yet it also shows the sides of them you never see.

The darker undertone of this book is what got me: the raw truth and honesty of the approach sealed the deal, making Feather Bound so clever and delicious a novel that I want to hug it and squeeze it a little. I wasn’t expecting so…good a book. I was expecting a decent YA urban fantasy, a decent story. I was not expecting something so poignant.

But that’s precisely what I got. And damn is that a good deal.

If you don’t read Feather Bound for the gorgeously different notion of human swans and the glitz and glamour of the Upper East Side pitted against the honest grime of the poorer streets of Brooklyn, read it for the brave and deliriously tangled, twisted, tumultuous plotline threaded within and beneath the lines. This is how fairy tales should be written in the twenty-first century. And I’m all over them.
Profile Image for Isa Lavinia.
596 reviews297 followers
January 1, 2015

ARC provided by Strange Chemistry through Netgalley

TW: sexual abuse, torture, forced prostitution, human trafficking, mentions of rape

I absolutely hate to write bad reviews, but this one... ugh, it was infuriating!

First of all, false advertising can do nothing but harm a book.
In this case the blurb tells us this story is "reminiscent of Gabriel García Márquez's A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings"... If you are going to compare something to Gabriel García Márquez's writing be aware you are setting VERY high expectations.
If your book is a YA retelling of the Swan Maiden with a bit of Cinderella thrown in the mix, with a poor virginal Mary-Sue protagonist who meets a rich hot guy, comparing it in any way to Gabriel García Márquez's work is absurd and will make any readers drawn to the book by the blurb actually feel cheated and angry.

But even if I hadn't gone in with such high expectations the rating I gave this book wouldn't have changed.

The protagonist's life in her own words: "dead mother, deadbeat but well-meaning father, lazy middle sister, trophy-wife eldest sister."

First of all, the book starts off in the midst of chaotic preparations to attend the funeral of Ralph Hedley, who used to be Deanna's father's friend, and was a rich asshole who enslaved his wife (more on that later).
The author does a perfect mess of introducing the characters. There are three sisters and it's never clear who is exactly who until the second chapter. They are all addressed by their first names and nicknames, never settling for one. Throw in an avalanche of fake celebrities whose names are mentioned, plus the names of fake socialites, and it made the whole thing very confusing, even while taking notes!

So we have:

˙ Deanna/Dee: Mary-Sue, youngest sister, pretty, hard-working, is the responsible one and main contributor to household finances.
˙ Ericka: the trophy-wife eldest sister, who has a baby, and a lawyer husband who refuses to let her help (not that it's ever clear she really insists) her family because hand-outs only make them lazier.
˙ Adrianna/Ade: works on the weekends as a telemarketer, but doesn't help with house expenses because she spends her money on clothes and designer bags instead of food.
˙ Dad: Alcoholic gambler, just to make things more tragic.
˙ Hyde Hedley: Deanna's friend from when they were children who was presumed dead, but was in fact alive and now has come to take control of adoptive father's company.

The first mention we get of the whole swan thing is during Ralph Hedley's funeral, when a woman strips naked and shows her swan feathers, reveals Hedley's wife was a swan, and calls for swan rights.

The swan aspect of the book was extremely frustrating. We know very little about it.
We're told some things, how "almost three percent of the world’s population are or will become swans during their lifetimes", how between "the age of ten" and "the age of eighteen" you get a backache then excruciating pain and then voilà! you have a cape of swan feathers hanging limply from your back.

Whomever steals your feathers (it's never really clear whether it's the whole feather cape which needs to be torn out, or loose feathers, or what) has absolute control over the "swan".
So there are a lot of forced labourers and sexual slaves who are, in fact, swans.

Are swans the only fairy tale creatures around? How were they first discovered? Where is this book's world building?!

The writing is mediocre. Admittedly, I went in expecting something of Gabriel García Márquez's calibre, but even setting those expectations aside, there are many odd syntactic choices and the writing is often awkward.
Some examples:

"Hers had been a winter funeral; her casket lowered under metric tons of snow. Today was way nicer."

"A better liar and a worse liar all at the same time."

"They came out all at once, the feathers. It was messy, slow."

It doesn't help that, besides being boring, the plot is very unevenly paced and bogged down with useless fake celebrity gossip.

But on to the plot.
Deanna/Dee, the Mary-Sue, turns into a swan. Hyde, her childhood bff is back from the supposedly dead and is now a millionaire. Anton, Hyde's cousin, blackmails Deanne/Dee into destroying Hyde.
How? Did he steal her swan feathers? No. He threatened to"out her" making her a target for human traffickers.
What guarantees does she have that he won't do just that once she's outlived her usefulness to him? None, thus branding her as tstl.

Hyde, by his own admission, is "more of a stalker than friend-material" - but he's the love interest, regardless.

To borrow the book's style: it's too much (drama, tstl moments, absurd events), and too little (world building, character development, an interesting plot).

I think that this line from the book sums up the whole thing perfectly:

"None of it makes sense because none of it is supposed to."

Profile Image for Kathylill .
162 reviews174 followers
March 11, 2014
DNFed at 25% skipped over the rest

This book is one if those that pisses me of. It's so full of stereotypes and dumb thoughts that I seriously wanted to do bodily harm. At least the book is short if nothing else.

First of all there is absolutely no world building:
Sarah Raughley tries unconvincingly to create an urban fantasy romance novel for young adults. But even though she is one of the first to star bird-shifters the world and plot itself seem to be rather lacking in the originality department.

There are the human swans (squawk, birdchatter) that are being kind of enslaved by society (like Chinese working in clothing or washing) because real humans can steal their feathers? Say what? There is no explanation given what human swans are, how they came to be known to the public, if there are any other supernatural beings in the world or if human swans can actually do something interesting like flying, super singing or have any magical abilities. How can a reader be expected to just accept that squawking shapeshifters have come out of a fairy tale into the modern world without any background information or explanation is beyond me.

Apart from that small negligible fantasy element the world reminded me of bad fan-fiction of the crossfire novels Bared to You: poor little girl (17) who is working her ass of to pay for food and rent because her father is an alcoholic and her older sisters can't be bothered to contribute meets asshole billionaire (19). Descriptions of wealthy teens, their wealthy parents, their super expensive lifestyle, designer outfits and awesome parties ensues. Of course every other sentence in this book the poor little girl has to remind us of the fact how poor she is and how exorbitantly rich everybody else is. As if the reader could forget for one second that being poor is a shameful thing to be, that others laugh about her because she wears a fake prada bag (a black bag with PRALA gold letters on it) that her clothes come from a second hand shop, that she hasn't any money for a hair cut.

Of course even her oldest sister who is married to a millionaire can't spare fucking 100 dollars to buy food for her sister or take her out shopping. Of course her other older sister who works only part time for a call center, spends all her money on expensive clothes instead of helping the family, but manages to eat half of the food alone while watching tv all day. Of course her father is an alcoholic who spends his money on ... Alcohol.

If you haven't noticed until now our poor but special girl is miss fu**ing perfect while everybody else is just well rich, mean, superficial, self centered and so on. She is also quite shy, virginal and has a low self esteem.

Coming to the best part: the romance
Now I had a best friend at the age of 8 just like her. He didn't die but when my parents moved to another country our friendship ended. I loved him as best friend and all but come on nobody would pine for 9 years after a childhood friend that you knew only for a year or so. Well her childhood best friend who was supposed to be dead (tragic accident in a boat) apparently wasn't that dead because after nine years he makes an appearance on his adoptive father's funeral. He wants to take over his corporate business for whatever reasons. In a later date he tells our miss perfect that he lived in France / Paris happily after the faked accident and wants to pick up the friendship where they left of. After some initial struggling which wasn't convincing because as her sister puts it he now looks handsome AND is also totally rich, she and him start hanging out again. There are all those feelings .... Of course what else?

So no this book didn't do it for me: no intriguing world-building, a whiney Virgin Mary and a lot of unrealistic, un-likable secondary characters and boring internal monologue on top.
Profile Image for Jennifer Whitehead.
56 reviews2 followers
March 24, 2014
Thank you NetGalley and Angry Robot Ltd for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

LOVE LOVE LOVE this book. I understand that many people think that the comparison to Marquez's work is inaccurate. I also acknowledge that the Cinderella-spin isn't quite right. But I found this book to be dark and enthralling. I even found myself discussing it with my husband (who usually scoffs at my preference for YA lit).

Dee, the hollow-eyed and life-hardened main character, finds herself attending the funeral of a family friend. Suddenly she is faced with an impossibility: the now-alive best friend who went missing and was assumed dead nine years ago. Hyde is sweet but secretive and he claims he wants nothing more than to pick up with Deanna where he left off years ago. Sadly, life has changed Dee (and Hyde, of course), and you cannot assume the life you had at ten and twelve years old, but Dee wants Hyde to rescue her from the misery of her life. Unfortunately, Hyde has some bad friends in high places, and their story soon goes awry.

Without revealing the whole of the story, I want to emphasize that there is a fantasy aspect to this story. I found the addition of this unexpected element to be revealed slowly and when I understood what was going on, I liked it. I also found a few moments to be predictable (maddening that Dee didn't realize when I did), but it didn't effect the impetus of the story.

So, I seem to disagree with many fellow readers. I fully enjoyed the darkness to this story. I liked the gritty element of crime that ran ribbon-like through the story. And I enjoyed the concept. Thank you Sarah Raughley! I am recommending this book to my school's librarian.
Profile Image for Paige (Illegal in 3 Countries).
1,212 reviews391 followers
December 26, 2014
See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten! My copy was an ARC I received from the publisher via NetGalley.

I have to admit, Strange Chemistry is one publisher I’ve yet to have a hit with despite trying and trying for a year and a half. The premises to so many of their novels sound amazing and practically scream my name, but something tends to go wrong and put me somewhere between DNF and meh. I’m happy to say Feather Bound not only broke this “curse” but broke my heart and made its way into my all-time favorites. This kind of novel is why I keep trying and trying with genres, publishers, and the like even when it looks like I should stop. This is one of the most powerful, beautiful, novels I’ve read this year.

Going in, I didn’t know Feather Bound is magical realism, but it definitely is. In it, roughly three percent of the population will become swans at some point in their lives, i.e. a cape of feathers will literally burst from their backs (typically sometime between the ages of ten and eighteen) and whoever possesses their feathers controls the swan unconditionally. Much to her horror, Deanna becomes a swan early in the novel and has a new set of problems to worry about like her feathers being taken from her by people who would sell her into the lucrative human trafficking industry.

Taking a swan’s feathers and using them to control the swan is rape and the novel is right about that as it also relates the literal act of rape that accompanies this enslavement of swans. Imagine someone holds the power to control you. Every night, you have to go to them no matter what. This might go on for years at a time and you have to do whatever they tell you even if it means having sex against your will. You could be sold into prostitution and with your handler in control of your feathers, there really is no escape.

Horrifying idea, no? This is the reality of swans and this is why they try so hard to keep their identities a secret. Raughley doesn’t just let us imagine it either; she outright takes us there and describes what these poor men and women go through without going into graphic detail to make it hit home that much more. Feather Bound is a very dark novel and anyone triggered by rape will want to tread cautiously. This short quote from a conversation between Deanna and one of her sisters highlights how this isn’t an issue just in their world but also in ours because of how familiar it is in conversations about rape, enslavement, and general oppression:

“You know, what I don’t really get about this whole Hedley thing is, if he really did steal his wife’s feathers, why didn’t she just say something? Like call the police or something? At the very least Shannon Dalhousie wouldn’t have had to flash her tits in front of a congregation of mourning millionaires. At least no so early in the morning.”

“I don’t think Hedley’s wife could have told anyone even if she wanted to…” (~7%)

I’m typically one to believe nothing is rape except for rape and we should be taking about actual issues like racism and rape instead of using aliens and swans as metaphors to talk about them, but Raughley makes it work so well I can’t apply my usual ideas here.

Beyond being powerful in all these ways, it’s an engrossing read too. I’m in the middle of finals prep (they start about a week from the time I write this review and everything is due right now) and yet Feather Bound is so good I spent an entire day reading it, losing a day I probably needed to write that 8-10 page paper on the intersection of gender and social class in The Great Gatsby. Worth it? ABSOLUTELY. At 304 pages, it’s a decent length too. Not a 240-something short book but not a lengthy novel either.

Above all, the relationships Deanna has with her love interest/childhood friend Hyde and her family are key. They are the reason she fights so hard for herself and doesn’t go the way of many an unfortunate swan. Even though Ericka is absent for most of the novel due to her marriage to a rich jerk and Ade rotates between lazy, superficial, and disdainful of wealth, they have each other’s backs and Ade is there for Deanna from the moment the feathers show themselves. Sisters like these are special.

Her romance is very low-key and not a central focus of the novel, but the way it is made clear Hyde’s fortune creates an imbalance of power between them is done very well. If his oodles of money compared to her near-poverty lifestyle and the way he showers her with gifts saw no challenge, there would have been a problem. As a couple, they’re pretty cute together and one development late in the novel makes me love them that much more. I can’t even talk about it. Nope, still can’t process. Just know I ship this ship like you wouldn’t believe.

Am I going to keep an eye out for whatever else Raughley publishes? You bet I am! This is an author who knows what she is doing and does it well. Until I hear of such news, I’ll simply have to keep going back to Feather Bound and cry intermittently. Oh, and start pushing this book on everyone I know and love who won’t be triggered by the subject matter.
Profile Image for Sarah Raughley.
Author 8 books494 followers
April 25, 2014
This is my book :) It's a magical realism YA inspired by the swan maiden folktale.

The story exists in different cultures, but the basic idea is always the same: a girl grows feathers on her back, as swan maidens do, only to have her feather robe stolen by a man - and her autonomy along with it. There was something about that I found fascinating and sinister in equal parts. The very fact that some variation of the tale exists in different cultures makes it clear that there are definitely some (dark) universal themes worth exploring. That's what I've tried to do with FEATHER BOUND through magical realism tropes.

It's a story dealing with rather dark themes, so beware of that. Thanks to everyone who gives it a shot!
Profile Image for Nasty Lady MJ.
1,057 reviews16 followers
April 1, 2014
To see full review click on one of the following links:

My Blog


First of all, credit where it’s due. I want to thank Netgalley for the opportunity for reading this book. And now here’s the disclaimer of how being given the very generous opportunity to review this book did not effect my opinion of this book.

Neither did the beautiful cover.

Really, whoever designed this cover should be give accolades. It’s the best thing about this book. I really love how it looks. It shows that the whole dress thing still has clout in the industry.

So good for you cover people. You get an A.

And now, it’s time to actually review this book.

Oh, boy. I wish I could provide all you dear readers with good news that I loved this book to pieces. But instead, I’m going to provide you with a drinking game.

I know, a drinking game that doesn’t involve House of Night or Tiger’s Curse and it’s on a Monday the worst (or best, depending on how you view it) night to get sloshed.

First of all take a drink every time you think girls turning into swans and molting is ridiculous. And no, it does not involve ballet or tutus so there’s not even that to fall back on.

And now after that initial shot of whiskey you can read the rest of the book without wanting to bang your head against your desk. Oh, you’ll still want to kill yourself but at least the pain of reading this book will sort of be numb. Oh, wait the booze won’t hit you in the opening when you meet our precious Mary Sue who has the tragic home life complete with the dead mother, two sisters who are so fucked up they could care less about her, and she’s such a poor little girl surrounded by billionaires. And her dead billionaire boyfriend isn’t as dead as she thought he was.

I should mention he was nine when they first started dating.

Honestly, the opening sort of gave me deja vu. I’ve seen plenty of fan fics and bad books with similar openings. And it didn’t help that there was a line about imprinting thrown in there too-though not Twilight Saga type of imprinting if that’s what you’re worried about.

I was really hoping that the cliche beginning though would get better. Or at least I’d get drunk enough to ignore it while to enjoy the rest of the story but no…

What I got was a bunch of insipid characters. And a plot that made little to no sense.
Profile Image for Suz.
85 reviews5 followers
June 27, 2014

A little about the author

Sarah Raughley wrote Feather bound, published by ANGRY ROBOT Ltd, strange Chemistry, its Pub Date is May 6 2014.

Described on amazon Sarah is said to be a superhero fanatic from Southern Ontario who's been writing stories to go on her own crazy adventures with said superpowers. She has a diverse range of tastes from Manga to science fiction/fantasy lit to Japanese Role Playing Games are all her poison though she is also inspired by Jane Austen because it's less nerdy than saying Chrono Trigger inspires her.

She is also studying to get a PhD in English, because apparently the sight of blood makes her queasy so a being a writer is the better career choice really.

Authors website:


Book available from:

Plot summary reviewed.

"When Deanna's missing friend Hyde turns up at his father's funeral to claim his corporate empire and inheritance, she is swept into his glittering world of paparazzi and wealth.

But re-kindling her friendship and the dizzying new emotions along for the ride are the least of her concerns. Because Deanna has a secret - and somebody knows. Someone who is out to get Hyde. And if she doesn't play along, and help the enemy destroy him...she will be sold to the highest bidder in the black market for human swans.

Now Deanna is struggling to break free from the gilded cage that would trap her forever...

Feather Bound is a dark debut reminiscent of Gabriel García Márquez's A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings, and the twisted truth behind the fairy tale of Cinderella."

I liked this book. At first i completely had no idea what was going on and then it clicked and i was amazed at how a horrible subject could be written down and portrayed in such a light and beautiful fashion.
The sense of foreboding is of the scale with this book. It was heart wrenching to read at points, knowing what could happen, what actually does happen and how close things get to actually going from bad, to just plain hellish in a few simple steps.

Its a great story, imaginative and sweet yet brash, rotten and blood curdling, all at once.

Worth a read and but beware the sting left behind that has you thinking for days after. One of a few books that could potentially ruin you for a while and throw you through a loop. I now know i have to read something completely different next, to get over Feather bound in a way its sad but thats when you know a book is good. It has you thinking of nothing else for ages.

The subtext is obvious, human trafficking, slavery, prostitution and more. Not talked about yet it still occurs, whispered conversations occur but it's definitely not a topic that is discussed in public, yet why? Its a huge issue, one that you don't see or think about until its too late.

The little add-ins of the swan story where a great touch. They added a sense of fairy tale to the book. The 'swan' and feathers business was well thought out, the details held together and the story supported the idea. The manifestation, revelations and revulsions were fitting and well written. Again the sense of knowing and waiting where key to the plot. Guessing how it would play out was easy but the cherry on top was how it all came to fulfilment. Plus a little romance and a few punches help keep a book with a topic like this light hearted. its essential really and humor is needed to keep the audience from being disgusted rather than curious.

Over all i loved this book. I read it on my way home from work and then picked it back up after dinner to read and continued to read well into the night. Its a little short but well worth a read. Eye-opening and surprising may seem to be the same descriptors but this book did both in different ways. Great imagery is woven together with great pain and a superbly crafted cast create a humanizing story.

Would have loved a book two. I feel i have to know what happens after all the drama. How people go on with life when its been turned upside down and what challenges arise after such confessions or revelations are brought to light, as were in this book's ending.

My star rating is: Four

Posted 15th March by suzanne gardenier
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Althea Ann.
2,230 reviews1,003 followers
March 12, 2014
OK, first off – I don’t think that the marketing blurb advertising this book as “reminiscent of Gabriel García Márquez” was a good idea (although it got me to grab the book). It creates unrealistically high expectations – and no, this book simply does not resemble Márquez. Nor does it try to. Stylistically, this reminded me a lot more of YA books such as Scott Westerfeld’s ‘Uglies’ series, or even Malorie Blackman’s ‘Noughts and Crosses.’ And I think the audience for those books would like this one very much.

The story takes its inspiration from the folk tale of the ‘swan maiden’ who can be captured and made a wife, if her feather cloak is stolen. Here, in an alternate modern-day NYC, the ‘swans’ are not shape-shifters. But, somewhere between the ages of eight and eighteen they do sprout feathers on their backs – and if someone steals those feathers the ‘swan’ is magically enslaved to that person’s will. Clearly, the potential for abuse of this vulnerability is huge, and ‘swans’ are commonly forced into sexual relationships, used as slave labor, prostitutes, etc. Unsurprisingly, most of the 3% of the population who may be ‘swans’ keep it well-hidden, although there are some activists who wish to ditch the shame associated with the condition and go public. The parallels with our gay rights movement are made explicit, as well as, of course, the real-world evils of human trafficking.

In this world, we are introduced to a struggling family from East Brooklyn – who just happen to be tied by marriage to one of the wealthiest families in the city, who own a publishing conglomerate. Brooklynite Deanna’s childhood best friend Hyde was the tycoon’s adopted son. Hyde was missing and presumed dead nine years earlier – but now he’s reappeared, and is prepared to take over the business empire. And absence seems to have made the heart grow fonder, where Deanna is concerned. Of course, no romance can blossom without obstacles… and Deanna, against her will, is swept into a vicious intrigue concerning control of the business, and before it’s over, quite a few secrets, dirty and otherwise, will see the light.

It’s not bad at all. Overall, it’s a little more juvenile than I prefer, but this is clearly marketed for a YA audience. (And I do think that some kids may find some of the scenes excitingly ‘adult.’) I could do without Deanna being so very law-abiding. (“I don’t drink because I’m under 21 – and by the way, so are you.” [paraphrase] Really? Ugh. How about, “I don’t drink ‘cause my dad’s an alcoholic and I have no interest?” That works.) However, my biggest gripe with the book was just about my perspective as a New Yorker. I doubt it would bother anyone from elsewhere. OK, Deanna’s supposed to live in East Brooklyn (in a ‘shack’). But Sterling and Underhill, the address that’s supposed to be conveniently close to her house, is hardly in East Brooklyn. That’s Park Slope, and a crazy pricy neighborhood. For a supposedly financially-challenged family, they do an awful lot of routinely calling car services (which they call ‘cab’s, and never differentiate between cabs and car services.) Seriously, no one, let alone a non-wealthy person, would catch the subway *and then a cab* to get to Chrystie St. (Whatever train you caught from Brooklyn, that’s a max of a 5-short-block walk.) And NO ONE who had grown up in Brooklyn would say, at the age of 17, “Let’s try the rides… the Cyclone looks pretty bad ass,” unless there were some kind of convincing and unusual reason that they *hadn’t* been at Coney Island every summer since they were too young to remember. OK, I don’t want to go on nit-picking, but it never feels like the perspective of someone who grew up in Brooklyn. It just seems that the personal experience, and also something about the city’s rich and diverse mix of cultures is missing. I ended up just saying, “Well, this is alternate-world Brooklyn, and it’s different.”

That said, I think this book definitely has the potential to do well, and displays Raughley’s promise as a YA writer.

Review copy provided by NetGalley.
Profile Image for Rebecca (Unbound Pages).
636 reviews52 followers
April 23, 2014
That book was so imaginative and original. There were some shockingly brutal aspects to it that I wasn't expecting, but I really loved the story. Two for two for Strange Chemistry. I need more of their books now! Full review to come.
Profile Image for Rachel Miller.
59 reviews21 followers
April 18, 2014
This review was first posted on Giant Squid Books.

Urban fantasy isn’t really my genre, but Feather Bound takes it on in a really fascinating and dark way I’ve never seen before. Sarah Raughley sends us to a sort-of modern day New York, with new myths and cultural norms woven in. It’s a world where we see egregiously wealthy teenagers wielding abnormal social and political power–it’s like Cruel Intentions–and I mean that only in the best way–with a bit of an urban fantasy element thrown in.

In the world of Feather Bound there are mythological creatures that live among humans–swans. In fact, they are humans, except for the fact that there are massive wings concealed beneath their skin. Nothing else distinguishes them–but they can be bound in psychological slavery to any person who takes their wings. And sometimes the swans themselves don’t know they are swans, until an experience of emotional intensity or pain causes their wings to burst out, and puts them in danger of being so taken advantage of.

The novel starts when Deanna’s supposedly long-dead childhood friend appears at his father’s funeral–with no indication of where he’s been for the last ten years. Hyde Headley takes over his father’s prestigious publishing company, causing a political backlash amongst the elite society he moves through. As he and Deanna begin dating, she gets wrapped up in the dark world of high society–where swans suffer silently among the rich. And that’s all I say about that, to avoid giving too much away about the story!

Feather Bound does a couple of things REALLY well.

First, Raughley builds an alternate universe mythology into the plot by incorporating it into the narrative with brief (and beautifully written!) mythological stories. The combination of those chapters and the assumptions that Deanna begins with around swans create do a great job to fill in the reader while maintaining a sense of mystery. And the dark reimagining of New York is so palpably gothic and creepy.

On the realism side of the story, Raughley does a remarkable job building some of the supporting characters. The conversations between Deanna and her sister Adrianna are so on point–Adrianna’s dialogue is so solidly written, and she, like a real person, straddles the line between being truly admirable and incredibly obnoxious. I think the same is true of Shannon, a protester for swan rights, who just comes alive off the page with really strong dialogue. On the flip side of that, I did wish for a little bit more humanization of some of the villains–they’re just so wholly reprehensible!

Thematically, Feather Bound does not mess around. In deploying the swan metaphor, Feather Bound confronts issues of human trafficking, modern day slavery, poverty and class war. Generally, the metaphor worked really well for this book, especially when it comes to some of the more visceral and emotional moments about swan slavery. But despite (or maybe because of) the ambitiousness of the themes, this is where the book starts to fall. The issues needed a bit of a more delicate hand being woven into the plot–they felt a little too obvious at times. This was especially true regarding the class issues. For example, Deanna has a deep-seated hatred toward rich socialites, but the reader is never clued in completely to where her anger comes from. Without a fuller backstory to enliven her anger to the readers, it’s hard to sympathize with her completely–she just seems bitter.

And this I supposed is the biggest problem with the book. In many places I loved Deanna’s snarky and sometimes mean narrative voice–it made her a realistic character. But too much of the narrative is spent with Deanna’s thoughts, rather than her deeper impressions–she tells the reader what she feels, rather than letting the reader experience the feelings of alienation, otherness, and disconnect that she experiences. Despite being from the first person voice, the reader is kept at a distance.

Overally, I really enjoyed Feather Bound–it’s definitely a page turner! And I always love a novel with a good social justice throughline that can also balance being a genuinely fun read. I definitely look forward to seeing what Sarah Raughley does next.

3/5 for characters–I loved the way Raughley wrote dialogue, but I wanted a little more humanization of the villains–and even of some of the main characters, like Hyde Headley and Deanna’s father, neither of whom we get very close to.

3/5 for consistently solid prose that was often beautiful. But so many of Deanna’s sarcastic asides pulled away from the story and sometimes were even confusing.

4/5 for world building– I can’t say enough how much I loved the chapters that tell the swan myth. They do such a great job contrasting with the regular narrative.

4/5 for themes, which were ambitious and serious. Though sometimes a little heavy-handed, the political undertones of the plot ended up moving the story forward in an effective way.

Feather Bound by Sarah Raughley – 3.5/5 stars
Profile Image for Cheyenne.
67 reviews6 followers
May 4, 2014
Feather Bound, the book that intrigued me. I won this book in a giveaway on Goodreads and it will be coming out on May 6th. It is a YA fantasy book about people who are part swan. I gave this book a 3.5 star rating.

When I was told I won this book, I wasn't sure what to expect when I read it. The synopsis definitely intrigued me and I was very excited to read something new and unique. I began it the day I got it in the mail and finished it in two days. It was a very simple book and easy to read in one or two settings. This book does have some more mature themes so I would recommend this for 15+ readers.

I did have a few problems with the book. I felt like I wasn't connecting very well with the main character, Dee. I don't know whether it was my fault or the authors but I found that often, I didn't have a lot of empathy for what Dee was going through. There were a couple grammar errors and a few scattered cliches throughout the book but these were only mildly irksome but did not take away from the book significantly. The plot was a little bit predictable but enjoyable nonetheless.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. For a debut novel, I think it was written very well and had an interesting and unique plot. It kept my interest through the entire book and I found that I could not put it down until I had finished it. I do think that Sarah Raughley's book set a great tone and I felt like her writing gave a mood for the book. I think that having a bit more world-building to help me understand more about what was up with the swan people would have been helpful but she did give the book enough for me to go on.

I would definitely recommend this book to people who enjoy modern fairytale stories or just love a good fast-paced read.
497 reviews2,420 followers
March 29, 2014
I didn't even get to that 10% mark, so I can't really give it a rating. This one was just way too overdone (the plot), odd and stiff (the writing).

The characters were really stereotypical. Our heroine, Deanna, was a Mary Sue. She was the "pretty one" who was the one who "did all the work" to support her family. There's her dad, who's a drunk and basically does nothing. One of her sisters, Adrianna, has a job but then spends all the money for herself.

Other than that, I wasn't a huge fan of the writing style. It was just a little plain and I was unable to feel anything from it.

I might try this one again and get past the first 10% of the finished copy, but at the moment I don't see myself trying this one again.

Thank you to Strange Chemistry for the review copy!
Profile Image for Vi Vi.
66 reviews15 followers
May 5, 2014
LOL I actually liked it?
Profile Image for Sally.
143 reviews13 followers
March 18, 2014
3.5 It's very different and I really liked that ! Check it out when its out !
Profile Image for Isis.
537 reviews26 followers
March 20, 2014
I would like to thank NetGalley and Strange Chemistry for the opportunity to read this e-ARC. Although I received the ebook for free, that in no way impacts my review.

When Deanna's missing friend Hyde turns up at his father's funeral to claim his corporate empire and inheritance, she is swept into his glittering world of paparazzi and wealth.

But re-kindling her friendship and the dizzying new emotions along for the ride are the least of her concerns. Because Deanna has a secret – and somebody knows. Someone who is out to get Hyde. And if she doesn't play along, and help the enemy destroy him…she will be sold to the highest bidder in the black market for human swans.

Now Deanna is struggling to break free from the gilded cage that would trap her forever…

Feather Bound is a dark debut reminiscent of Gabriel García Márquez's A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings, and the twisted truth behind the fairy tale of Cinderella.

A creative blend of original and modern fairy tale, this story holds all the horror of the original tales and all the luxury and wish fulfillment of today's modern tale. Deanna rediscovers her childhood best friend, resurrected from the grave. Though he clearly wants to reconnect, he is also hiding something from Deanna, and the not knowing is driving her crazy.

Before they can make any real headway in rebuilding their friendship, and quite possibly more, Deanna undergoes a shocking transformation at one of the worst possible places and times. Though she thinks she got away with her deception, to her horror she discovers that she was indeed caught. And the one who caught her is nothing short of evil. In the blink of an eye her life goes from normal to terrifying as she is blackmailed into destroying her one true friend to save herself.

After a period of almost catatonic shock she begins to recover enough to put the blackmail plan into action. But she just can't see herself hurting Hyde, however she also can't seem to find any way out of the mess she's been caught up in. Even if she does escape this situation will she learn to live her life without always looking over her shoulder for the next threat?

Like any good fairy tale this one has an underlying message or two. Will Deanna be rescued by her fairy godmother at the last moment? Will her knight in shining armor arrive in time to sweep her off her feet while single-handedly slaying the evil villains? Or will something more important happen?

Filled with a fascinating protagonist or two, an excellent supporting cast that are easy to relate to, as well as antagonists that are evil personified and you have the makings of a solid story. Add in a bunch of unexpected twists and turns and suddenly you have an exciting plot. Lace it with morals and lessons to be learned and suddenly you have an entirely new fairy tale, all wrapped up in a pretty package. These lessons aren't like the ones from childhood nursery rhymes or school, instead they are at once more subtle and more transparent. Well told, with a creative and unique take on a fairy tale/myth, this quick book is definitely worth the read.
May 18, 2014
Sorry for the lateness of this review.

You know, I don't usually read a lot of YA fiction. I find a lot of it is really just a series of events linking to each other with everything spelled out and hand-held for the reader... and I don't know. That may be literally the definition of plot and story but I find it interesting when an author can trust the reader to look at the subtext of what's going on and consider the larger themes of the story.

Feather Bound is about human swans (where they came from isn't explored. Again, this is a fairy-tale, and in most fairytales you're dropped into the world with no parachute. It's not about the inner mechanics of how the genetics of swans and humans work. Swans are monsters and here they are.) The relationship with swans and humans is interesting and it delves into the dark nature of human society, such as sexual slavery. These themes are handled with maturity and I believe can be heavy to some who aren't expecting it, but it definitely adds to the read.

The main character Dee, is a girl who is a Swan and a proxy for Cinderella. Her childhood friend Hyde returns and old feelings are rekindled... and as you read the book you realize it's not really about human swans or where they came from or what they can do, but Dee and her relationships with her family, her change in station in life (due to her moulting as a Swan), Hyde and how she chooses to accept the changes that come into her world.

The characters feel real, and they don't just enter the narrative to fill a certain role. You feel like they have their own struggles and motivation (or lack thereof) to deal with and it'd be interesting to follow the stories of the Dee's sister's, for example, for a while. That's not to say that none of the characters were annoying... even the heroine ended up making some decisions that made me arch an eyebrow, but it didn't seem out of place or unrealistic to the world they lived in, so I appreciated that.

What surprised me most and what I enjoyed was the intrigue. As I said before, most of what I find in YA is boringly straight-forward plot-lines, and what I enjoy personally in a book or in a movie is intrigue, stuff you'd find in a mystery or a thriller, and in the dark world of Feather Bound there's plenty to be had.

I dunno. I'm not that great in putting my thoughts of stories that I consume for others to see and understand. Know this, I really highly recommend Feather Bound. I saw it as a fairytale that leaves some things unexplained and unsaid, things that the reader has to decide what's important and what isn't, but isn't ultimately about the inner machinations of the world but the motivations of the characters, how they relate to each other, and the trials they go through. I'm gonna look for more from this author and hopefully she'll stick to the non-standard fare when it comes to YA stories.
Profile Image for Isamlq.
1,578 reviews710 followers
August 25, 2016
"Feather Bound is a dark debut reminiscent of Gabriel García Márquez's A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings, and the twisted truth behind the fairy tale of Cinderella."

 photo 3cbf4579767f1adb02212e241a6cb4efd198d607b2243230ddd6486eb9c6115e_zps8862d72f.jpg

unwarranted comparison aside, the one good thing about this is the cover. hello, cover love! unless one factors how it misleads the reader. yes, this is another case of beautiful cover… only.

one, on world building. what world building? things just 'are' in feather bound... something i would normally be ok with, except here, what 'is' is overly simple with that line between her world and his world, (and i'm not just talking of that rich and not so rich divide, which is likewise present here. I simply could not stand the easy way we're expected to swallow what makes their world different. Apparently it is what it is what it is. but, swan slaves my ass, as there is no rhyme or reason here. Random is what comes to mind.

two, kick ass heroine. what kick ass heroine? for a self professed do it yourself watch over the others girl... well, nothing she did in this established any of that. most everything from her is reactive and done after next to zero contemplation. this is how thing went down: 'oh, i am dear troublesome situation; i must stop crying. but wait! i shall cry some more first. now, i must think of a way out of my predicament; but wait! let me cry some more. and wait again! i have a plan' (if you could call it that.) sadly what she wanted and what she did only made the situation worse as the plan in question was so hare brained that it was a wonder she'd thought it up and put it in action.

and back to one on world building (i cannot help it as it annoyed me no end) there's this save the swans thing that should have been interesting, but fell flat as the more we went into the story, and the more random it felt. even the extra chapters on the mythology where things sprang from ended up feeling out of place. bottom line: there's poor follow up on what could have been something it's executed so poorly here. you know the seals and their pelts?

but thank you, net galley!
Profile Image for Liviania.
957 reviews63 followers
June 9, 2014
I was excited about FEATHER BOUND, a YA debut based on the Hagoromo/Crane Wife legend. After seeing several negative reviews, my excitement dimmed and it moved down in my TBR pile. But 48HBC, with its focus on diversity, pushed it back up toward the top.

The story begins with Deanna attending the funeral of an old family friend. She's mostly there out of obligation, but she does mourn the man's son, her best friend who died when he was ten. Cue the reveal that in Deanna's world some people are "swans" - they have feathers, which if stolen make them the slave of the one who takes them. And that old family friend enslaved his wife. Cue the second reveal that Hyde is still alive, taking over his father's company, and making some big changes to it as well.

Sarah Raughley's writing is fine and there are lots of good ideas in FEATHER BOUND. Through the metaphor of swans, Raughley addresses human trafficking, coming out, and several other issues. At the same time, that means those issues only get addressed shallowly. Deanna is only interested in keeping herself and those she loves free; she's not interested in ending slavery or campaigning for stricter protections or ending the stigma against being a swan. Much like a fairy tale, there is no explanation for the magical. Swans just are. FEATHER BOUND really requires the reader to buy in to the metaphor. I did, but I wished Raughley had the time to go deeper.

Deanna was a frustrating heroine. She's the type, as her sister points out, to refuse any help offered and then complain that she's all alone. Thus, Deanna tries to go at it alone in a desperate situation while ignoring people who could and would help. At the same time, it's easy to see why a confused, scared teenager would withdraw from the world as Deanna does.

I think fans of traditional fairy tale retellings will enjoy FEATHER BOUND. The world's rules serve the characters journey. It's not appropriate for most readers younger than twelve due to the sexual slavery angle, but it doesn't really have any other elements that play up the darkness of the premise. (Okay, I am now remembering that there is another strange sexual bit that is not for younger readers.) I did like that Deanna found her inner strength at the end.
Profile Image for All Things Urban Fantasy.
1,921 reviews610 followers
May 6, 2014
Review Courtesy All Things Urban Fantasy

I can understand, to some degree, wanting to generate buzz for your novel, but you might want to stop and think before comparing it to something written by a man who can claim a Nobel Prize in Literature. Apparently, stopping and thinking wasn’t the road chosen and the comparison was made. Bad move.

FEATHER BOUND isn’t so much a novel as it is a trainwreck. I can understand wanting to keep an air of mystery around the story to keep the reader engaged; I even support that to some degree. I like not having every detail spelled out. But there’s a line between mystery and “what the hell is going on?” If you’re going to have a world where characters turn into swans (but not really swans – just people with feathers that suddenly sprout down their backs around puberty) you really need to set the scene just a little.

After a few times running back through the little exposition we’re given, I was finally able to figure out enough of how the world building worked and focus on the story. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a good thing. It’s a showcase of awkward phrasing, seriously contrived plot devices, predictable misunderstandings, and almost completely unlikeable characters. For the first time in a very long time, I’m having a very hard time finding something positive to say about it.

I didn’t so much read FEATHER BOUND as I endured it and I’m wearing the fact that I didn’t mark it DNF as a badge of honor. Suffice to say, I probably won’t be revisiting this author.
426 reviews7 followers
March 28, 2014
There’s something so strange and shocking about the first appearance of a swan in the book that I couldn’t help but love it. Some reviewers have criticised the lack of explanation or purpose of the swans’ existence, but I found this gave it all the more resonance as a metaphor for abuse and exploitation, and I respect a writer who can include something so completely weird in a story. She’s also brave enough to write about sexual abuse and human trafficking with a rawness and lack of sensationalism rarely seen in YA fiction.
I found the main characters sympathetic and believable but the villains (including most of the minor rich characters) cartoonishly evil and lacking nuance; and this detracted from my overall enjoyment of the story. I also found the story a little uneven - there are some great moments, Perhaps there is room for a sequel or companion novel set in this world? I hope so, and I'll be looking out for more by this writer.
Profile Image for  Lianne Mei.
607 reviews
May 1, 2014
Received this ARC in exchange for an honest review via the publisher via Netgalley. Thank you!

I am so confused.. I don't understand how people in this story are swans and that it is okay for other people to use them as slaves ( instead of human trafficking you have human/swan trafficking). It just seems as though this story leaps right into the action and doesn't explain anything. Like how people became swans and what is the significance of Hyde's dad being considered to be evil (they discuss rumors of what he did but have no concrete evidence. I also don't understand the random points where the next section of the book includes a section called A Tale; they don't many any sense. Of course I don't learn any of the information about Swan's till the ( Spoiler Alert) the main character becomes ONE and the information from that is from "drum roll please" the internet.

The plot isn't all that special when I think about it either. Its the typical "I know your secret" and if you want to live or your family to live then you will do this for me "aka ruin someone" or I will sell you out (in this case tell everyone your secret and sell you. And of course if you tell anyone then you won't be safe and anyone you love will be harmed.

Read the rest here: http://pandabooklover1995.weebly.com/...
Profile Image for Victoria.
9 reviews2 followers
March 30, 2014
I'd like to thank the publisher for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Feather Bound is certainly an interesting book. It was a relatively quick read, although I will admit that at times I found myself skimming over the pages a little. Up until the 50% mark it was fast paced and interesting, however my concentration started to wane after that point. Although it did pick itself up again toward the very end, when all the action started to happen.
I think my biggest issue with this book would be the sheer amount of inner-monologue-turmoil from the main character, Deanna. She wasn't a dull, whiny character by any means, but she spent a fair amount of time wallowing over her problems.
Plot wise, it's an intriguing story, one I think could have perhaps benefited by being split into two books in order to explore the plot, characters and their relationships a little deeper. But it was a decent read nonetheless.
694 reviews16 followers
May 8, 2014
Sometimes I like fairy tale adaptations, sometimes I don't. I find they can be a bit twee, cloying and saintly. Feather Bound is anything but. This is a darker tale of riches versus poverty, embezzlement and blackmail, human trafficking and slave labour. Not subjects you expect to come across in a fairy tale, but Raughley does it oh so well.

Dark and twisted, this tale is compelling and disturbing in all the right ways. The darkness is tempered with a romance that is both realistic and delightful (and low-key enough not to take over the story), and with a story of familial love. A feat of magical realism, Feather Bound is gritty yet glittering.
Profile Image for Hallie.
35 reviews
May 8, 2014
An entirely original, imaginative concept! After the first few chapters, I couldn't put it down!
Profile Image for Margaryta.
Author 6 books36 followers
March 29, 2014
Firstly, a big thanks to Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry/Exhibit A for providing me with a copy of the book to review and the opportunity to read it, I was looking forward to devolve into this one and discover for myself the world of the swan maiden reimagined.

Now, this book walks a rather thin line between its faults and it’s moments of triumph, though I would say interest or amusement would fit better in this case or even just shuddering. And even though those moments existed there weren’t that many of them. I think this one should be a 2.5, right in the middle of the scale, because I simply do not know what conclusion I should draw up.

This book is yet another in a growing list of books that are advertised improperly. The summary made the book sound much more energetic and fast paced, though the actual plot took some time to get established and was not as riveting in fact as promised. I would say however that the “twisted truth about Cinderella” is what really will throw most readers off, because that really isn’t what you’re getting in this book. There is a combination of fairytales and existing stories being modernized in this story, but Cinderella was definitely not a major one, nor would I say the comparison that apparent. Yes there was a ball, there is socializing and galas, and Deanne’s position in her family is, in some ways, below that of her other two sisters, but she isn’t a slave.

The way she is treated throughout the story and trying to escape from the cage of blackmail she was trapped into relates more to the tale of the swan maiden (or the Selkie folklore, for those who are also familiar with it). Even then, the reimagining becomes messy at some point, the overall concept of swans generally confusing. They could be seen as a fairytale metaphor for people, in general, who were enslaved or trapped into doing labour, yet the book persistently refers to them as ‘swans’. It is never really described how they continue to persist, although some of the pamphlets Adrianna and Deanne read in the book briefly skim over the ‘causes’ of being a swan. The term is just there. It isn’t explained where swans originate from, or any general ideas. After finishing the book in fact I still stick with my original feeling that it should be viewed as a metaphor for people who are mistreated or done harm to.

Thus is probably the biggest problem of the book: world building. There isn’t a concrete establishment of what’s going on, and right away the reader is propelled into a string of events that take several chapters to get into. I wish there was more back story on Deanne and her family. Yes there was talk of her father’s issues with alcohol and the complicated characteristics of her sisters that she mediates between, but there isn’t much talk of her past with her mother, of what life was like before. Her childhood memories with Hyde are basically the focal point of anything existing prior to the present moment of the story.

Now I know there are different types of kids and maybe it’s because I’m basing this off of my own childhood experiences, but still – I don’t know many 8 year old girls who have 10 year old boyfriends. Maybe there are some who do, but majority probably aren’t comfortable with the concept at that age still. So when Deanne discovers about Hyde and Ade is referring to him as her ‘dead childhood boyfriend’, I was lost to the idea. They were close friends, best friends even, but I don’t think calling them a boyfriend and girlfriend would really be appropriate. It was one of several moments in the book when I felt the author pushed it a bit too much, maybe to appeal to the teenage audience it was meant for.

The romance in the book was pretty hard to swallow. People get that intense kick of energy and feelings when reunited with their old friends, yes, but Hyde’s crossed into obsessive and a bit scary even. Some girls dream of a guy that’ll load them with flowers, chocolates, DVDs, heck maybe they even want a Mariachi band! Here though it didn’t work. Not only that, but Deanne’s view of “he’s obsessive and stuck in the past” went to “I have such strong feelings of attachment to him” so fast that it didn’t feel natural. Maybe to some that is the way it happens, I don’t know, but as a YA romance it didn’t stick together. As Deanne said herself, the couple was so focused on their past together that it felt like that was the only thing that held their relationship together, though it was ripping at the seams.

Deanne’s character was written to be a ‘bad ass’ kind of girl, or at least one with a strong, confident attitude and a backbone; somehow this didn’t succeed as strongly as hoped. It’s understood that someone in her situation would go through much stress and wonder about it, but the extent to which Deanne’s thoughts keep repeating themselves got a bit tiring. She didn’t appeal that much as a main character, and was difficult to understand, along with her sisters. The same was the problem with practically all the characters, which gradually seemed to fill pre-existing roles already established in YA fiction. The ending of this book, there was so much that could’ve been done about Deanne and Hyde and her sisters even, but instead it felt rushed, deescalating quickly with only a quick mention at the end of an organization that was set up for the swans. It’s tough to believe that people who went through as much as the main characters in this book did could just swallow it that easily.

Although about half the book was basically the establishment for the second half of it, I must say that the way Deanne resolved her problem was intense and action packed, as well as logical. The ball in the middle of the book somehow flopped for me, but the ending really packed a punch, and was the one bright moment for me in the book, though it came with some shaking of the head and even a couple cringes. I only wish that that wave of intensity had been carried all the way to the end without disappearing.

The book needs some kind of warning however, and hopefully people that have somehow been touched by the themes touched upon in this book will not pick it up as I think it would be rather triggering. There was a lot of emphasis on the forced sex and human trafficking but not enough on the fairytale feel of the story, which slowly slipped away towards the end. The every-so-often ‘chapters’ that appeared with snippets of the original story felt a bit out of place, or came at the wrong points in the story, thus not being as big an emphasis s they had the potential to be.

And that is the one conclusion which I DID draw from the book: it had so much potential, but somewhere along the way it got lost and dwindled, dying out like an ember. There was a bit too much attempted mixing of stories and attention given to the here-and-now, leaving the world and characters to sort of fend for themselves. Yes, this book can be viewed as a strong metaphor for slavery, abuse, all the negativity and pain that is done to people, as well as the story of Hyde which covers a vast range of topics, but somehow it didn’t work. It became a novel that was trying to appeal and be like popular YA novels while all the beautiful, powerful messages of the story got slowly pushed back.

And despite all that, something about the book charmed me.

So give this one a go and judge for yourself, though do think about the rather emotional and triggering themes referred to here. It’ll capture your attention and keep you reading, and maybe leave a stronger impact than it had left on me. I don’t regret reading this however, and if anything would maybe wish that the author returns to her created world of great potential and make the story grow more, for there really is so much that can be emphasized if only it were properly brought to the surface.
Profile Image for Tsana Dolichva.
Author 4 books63 followers
May 17, 2014
Feather Bound by Sarah Raughley is the author's début novel. I went into it with no expectations beyond title and cover thumbnail (if I ever read the blurb before writing this review, I have no memory of it) and I was pleasantly surprised. By the end of the first chapter, Feather Bound had me hooked with its surprising revelation of the premise (which, OK, not surprising if you read the blurb, but it was still well-executed).

In this story, some people are swans. It's not genetic, but it is something that usually becomes apparent roughly during puberty. They don't turn into birds or anything, they just grow a cloak of feathers on their backs. And if a swan's feathers are stolen, the thief gets complete control over the swan, making them a slave in the most literal sense.

We learn very early on that Deanna sympathises with swans and is against swan slavery (and, alarmingly, that not everyone is). It seems almost inevitable when, early on, Deanna finds herself sprouting feathers for the first time. But that's only the start of her problems. Not only does her freedom depend on keeping her secret, but she very quickly has to contend with threats because of it. I don't want to go into too much detail because spoilers, but suffice to say the existence of swans makes for a lucrative and prevalent human trafficking market. I did like the way in which Raughley used swans to highlight the horrors of human trafficking and sex-slavery.

I also liked how the worldbuilding was more than just a surface layer. Every now and then there are historical references which mention how swans have been treated and societal attitudes towards them through the ages. It was nice to see that the author had given this some thought and hadn't, for example, just made it a modern phenomenon.

Finally, I liked that there were lots of female characters. The main characters were overwhelmingly Deanna and Hyde, but Deanna's sisters, especially Ade who witnesses her first swan transformation, plays and important role as well. The only other male character's are Hyde's cousin, who's a terrible person, and Deanna's father who is an alcoholic that doesn't do much more (story-wise) than exist. Even the miscellaneous swan activists were all female. It was nice to see.

The only thing I didn't like, really, was that Deanna was a bit slow at working out certain plot twists which I'd guessed much earlier. But even this wasn't as bad as it could have been. She figured it out only a chapter later than I had wanted her too, so my frustration was relatively short-lived.

Although Feather Bound is a YA book and Deanna is 17, it doesn't deal with a lot of common YA issues, at least not the sort that tend to pop up in paranormal YA. There's no school for example (I think because it takes place over summer) and Deanna and her family are relatively poor, living in Brooklyn and with the daughters having to work to pay the bills. That is strongly juxtaposed against the wealth of the other characters (particularly Hyde and the oldest sister's husband) and the society parties that Deanna keeps finding herself at.

Feather Bound was a surprising and good read. I was impressed with the way it dealt with it's issues and I'm glad I picked it up. I recommend it to all fans of paranormal YA and, for that matter, contemporary YA (since the feather thing can easily be taken as a metaphor). I highly recommend it to all fans of YA and contemporary stories with fairytale roots.

4 / 5 stars

You can read more of my reviews on my blog.
Profile Image for Pili.
1,162 reviews216 followers
April 19, 2014
First of all I want to thank Strange Chemistry for having me auto-approved on NetGalley, so I'm always just a click away from their very unique and fresh books!

Feather Bound had a very unique premise, and was instantly drawn to a story in present time based on the Swan Maidens folk tales. I found I had some issues with the pacing on occasion, but still was a very unique read.

Deanna lives in a world where you can discover all of a sudden that you are Swan, which leaves you vulnerable to human trafficking of a sort that's even more horrible than the already awful one that exists out there. Once someone possesses a Swan's feathers they essentially own them and have their loyalty. The Swan will always have to return home and won't be able to speak against them. That means people are sold into slavery, wives stay with abusive husbands and lovers have to stay with someone they wouldn't even touch otherwise... It can be used as a metaphor for what control and power other people have over it, but here you can't really break free from it on your own, since you are compelled and bound by your own nature.

Deanna and her family had rather dysfunctional dynamics, with a sister that married up and nearly forgot about her family, a father that could never get over losing his lucrative job and then losing his wife, and Ade & Dee who seem to be trying to go on with their life dealing with their mother's death and their poor situation the best in their own way.

The plot was a bit confusing in this one at times, I wasn't entirely sure if it was about Deanna's family, the Swans or Dee & Hyde's romance. In the end, once the book is finished, I'd say it was a bit of a mish mash of everything, and maybe that was what made the book not work better for me. Seemed like the author wanted to juggle all those lines and sometimes you weren't entirely sure how to make them fit together. They came together in the end, but it wasn't always smooth sailing.

Deanna took a while to warm up to... at first I liked her a lot, but then she took a turn for the insecure and fragile in a way that was a lil irritating. I liked her much better once she decided to take action and find a way to turn things around, even if the plans weren't fool proof or worked exactly as she would have wanted.

The ending was quite satifying, most loose ends tied up, with plenty of reinforcement on the fact that communication is important! 3 to 3.5 to this one.
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