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The Swan Maiden

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  1,955 Ratings  ·  151 Reviews
In the quiet hour before dawn, anything can happen. Doucette can dream of being a creature of flight and magic, of wearing a swan skin like her older sisters. But she must run the castle household while her sisters learn to weave spells. Her dream of flying is exactly that . . . until the day she discovers her own hidden birthright. Sudden, soaring freedom—it is a wish
Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 30th 2008 by Square Fish (first published August 7th 2007)
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Sep 25, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-sci-fi
I enjoyed this book, though it was nothing spectacular. It held a sense of "old fairy tales" for me--the traditional ones that have a lot of magic and wonder but rather flat characters. Some of the descriptions in "Swan Maiden" are exquisite, and I enjoyed the attention to the French countryside (right down to the herbs and flowers) and the sense of magic that flowed through our heroine, Doucette. However, I did not really sympathize with Doucette--or any of the characters, for that matter; they ...more
Dec 07, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: retellings
Bleh. Stupid. No thanks. Not recommended. The main character isn't a character at all. She only reacts to what goes on around her, and never consistently, only in ways that will forward the very tenuous plot. All of the characters are this way. They only do things to make the plot move. When the plot requires them to be nice, they're nice. When it requires them to be beastly, they're beastly. The only interesting thing is seen coming a mile off, and is rather a disappointment when it does come. ...more
Jane G Meyer
Nov 05, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: wouldn't really...
Shelves: middlegrade
There were parts of this book that were lovely--a fast moving plot and some interesting description, but there are better books in this genre that I would recommend... I was pulled to the cash register by the cover, but there were holes, and the most ridiculous scene with one of the main characters, Jaume, walking on his hands, playing a pipe. I read the passage tens of times trying to make out how it might be possible--being a gymnast, I know you can't walk on your hands and play a tune on the ...more
Jul 18, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 27, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know if it's fair that I rate this book. I didn't read it all. At the begining it was similar to Goose Girl, so I was pretty sure that I would like it. However it was so slow that I started skipping pages and then chapters. I did read the last chapter and I was glad I didn't waste my time reading it all. I suggest someone else read it and then you can tell me what a wonderful book it was and maybe I'll try reading it again.
Geared towards the lower end of the YA spectrum.

I didn't like it as much as Tomlinson's Toads and Diamonds, though.

I think the mother's attitude toward the two elder sisters could have been developed a bit more. We can infer what their relationship must be like - which partially explains their behavior - but it's never really demonstrated and I think a little of that might have gone a long way to fleshing out the two elder sister's characters. As it stands, they seem a little one-dimensional.

Rebecca L. Snowe
I did a book publisher on this one. Read the first page and when it didn't grab me decided to ditch it. On to another!
Brandy Painter
Review originally posted here.

The Swan Maiden by Heather Tomlinson is a novel that uses the idea of a girl who can transform into a swan via a magical swan skin. This is not a direct retelling of any specific swan maiden tale, but uses elements prevalent in several, and sets it against a backdrop of medieval France. It has many fairy tale staples in it. The impoverished man seeking to perform a task to gain the hand of a maiden, magic, transformations, enchantresses. If you go into it keeping in
Sep 06, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 27, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: new-in-2014
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 03, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-fantasy
Doucette is the youngest sister. Her two older sisters are mysterious and powerful swan maidens, who can transform themselves into swans at will. Sorcery is their birthright, and Doucette longs to be like them. She may have more magic than she ever imagined...

Heather Tomlinson once again shamlessly uses French as a crutch in her fantasy world, but this time it is not so painful because she claims to have based her story off of a French fairy tale to begin with. If so, it doesn't have the continu
Jennifer Heise
Her sisters are swan maidens, but she is not; magicless and condemned to learn to be a castle chatelaine under her mother's stern eye, and to marry well at her parents' command, unlike her sisters who have free choice. But what if everything she has been taught is a lie? What of the young shepherd who is so kind to her? What will she make of her future, and will she succumb to the temptations of power?

This was actually quite well-written and I enjoyed the characters, especially as they were much
Dec 13, 2012 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-read
I've always loved fairy tales. Their full of hope, conquer, despair, hatred and obviously love. There is always a villain, a damsel in distress, a prince (or someone type of boy who is deeply in love with the damsel), something to overcome, and finally the happy ending. I think that pretty much sums up what a fairy tale consists of. Yup.

The Swan Maiden has all these concepts. It is, like I've read in other reviews, one long fairy tale. Actually, I think it's a mash up of fairy tales. We have mag
Alana Kelly
As the summary says, The Swan Maiden is about a girl named Doucette. The youngest of three and the daughter of a Comte, Doucette dreams of being a Swan Maiden and weaving spells like her sisters. Unfortunately for her, Doucette is instead doomed to be a Chastelaine. Stuck cleaning and running the household while her sisters run wild with magic, Doucette envies their beauty and confidence. But most of all she envies their swan cloaks, because it's with these coats that her sisters are able to tur ...more
Jan 11, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the overall re-imagining/re-working of this fairy-tale situition, which takes multiple elements from classic European fairy-tales, but can't actually be said to be based on a certain one. However, that was about all I liked; though the actually writing was good, the characters themselves were too convincing in their flaws, and not very convincing in their virtues (Doucette's family in particular!). But, a strong, likable, lead can cover a multitude of sins, and at the beginning of the st ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
K.W. McCabe
The Swan Maiden by Heather Tomlinson 3.5 out of 5 stars

Doucette Aigleron is trapped. Trapped by her mother, trapped by her position but, most of all, trapped because she has no wings.

Her two sisters, Cecilia and Azelais, are swan maidens: Sorceresses who can use their swan feathers to change into swans as well as perform many kinds of magic.

Each year Doucette must stay home and learn how to run a household while her sisters fly off to their aunt, the Queen of Birds, to learn the magical arts. Ev
May 02, 2009 rated it liked it
I was really into the beginning pages of this book, it had that certain fairy tale feel and I linked it with something written by Shannon Hale. But then there was a twist in the plot and I knew that the rest of the book would be dealing with that aspect. I was disappointed with how the story went, and I was almost compelled to take out my laptop and write out the way it should have ended. I probably would have ended the story in a different spot and I most definitely would have cut out some scen ...more
Jun 17, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Docette is the third daughter of a lord, and her older sisters are both swan-maids, sorceresses allowed to flaunt their abilities and propriety -- fly in their swan skins, even. She, on the other hand, is taught the duties of a chastelaine. She thinks this is as exciting as you do. Naturally, there's more than that fate ahead of her.

Written in a delicate and lovely style, The Swan Maiden captivated me for the first two-thirds or so. I was initially willing to overlook rather...blocky messaging.
Melinda Leilua
Dec 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read fairytales all my life, I decided to try and find a new fairytale I have never heard of before. Heather Tomlinson fulfilled my need with her book “The Swan Maiden”. In this book, we follow Doucette’s journey to find self-worth and courage, in a world set out to cage her.
I found this book to be very entertaining and beautifully written. This is not just a normal fairytale, with a spineless princess, handsome prince, and a loving king and queen. It covers topics not many fairytales do
Jo Oehrlein
May 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Doucette is jealous of her sisters, who are both swan maidens. Both can change into swans and fly away at any time. They're known for their beauty and men adore them. She is the dutiful clumsy younger sister who must train to be the castle chatelain. Her sisters go away each summer to spend time with their aunt, also a swan maiden, in the hope that one of them will be her heir.

Just after they leave for that trip one year, Doucette finds the swan skin that means that she, too, is a swan maiden. S
Nov 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have had this book to read on my shelf for a long time. I picked it up during one of my “fairy tale retelling” binges (I go through those every 5 years of so). I was surprised by how much I loved this story; the writing is beautifully done. This is based on a French fairy tale called the Swan Maiden.

This is a simple story that is sweet and beautifully written. It’s an easy read and pleasant. I enjoyed Doucette’s character and how she struggled with both wanting power and staying true to her he
Jul 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was truly lovely and so delightful to read. I was really happy to see Doucette's development from a shy and insecure girl to a confident and powerful woman. I'm happy she didn't let her family crush her spirit in the end. And that mother of hers..! It was a wonder she didn't put a spell on her parents so they wouldn't meddle in her affairs, I certainly would have. I would probably turn them into trees so she could do what she wanted.

Although I couldn't blame her family for their reluct
This was overall a hit and miss book for me. Upon first glance, I was instantly drawn to it by its lovely cover. I love how the artist plays on the human and swan form. It is beautiful. However, once I got into the book, I learned quickly that covers can be deceiving. Within a few pages, I was overwhelmed with Tomlinson's use of French terminology. It is everywhere. And while I applaud the author for attempting to make this book as authentic as possible, since the original tale has French origin ...more
Doucette is the 3rd sister, and unlike the older 2, she is not an enchantress. They have the swan skins that enable them to turn into the soaring birds. They get to travel to their aunt's castle every summer for magical instruction. She "gets" to stay home and learn more about running a castle. Until the day she finds another swan skin deep under a bed. Her swan skin, as a matter of fact. Her joy at finding it and all that the discovery entails is about equal with her fury at her parents for hid ...more
Feb 15, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
Doucette is the youngest of three sisters; her elder two are swan maidens, able to assume the form of a swan and perform High Magics. They are vain, selfish, and unkinds. Doucette is condemned by her mundane nature to be a chastelain- able to direct her servants in all their work and thus capably run a home and a demesne. This is a much more practical and useful ability, but the reality is that everyone bosses her around; she dreams of better things, a bigger world, she envies her sisters their ...more
Apr 29, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Some teens; mostly girls
Recommended to Geeta by:
*slight spoiler alert*
Yet again I have been disappointed with a YA book. I first saw this book on and was intrigued mostly due to the cover and then a little bit by the blurb. Unfortunately, the lack of character depth and excitement in the plot I must say it was a slightly boring and predictable read. There was potential in the relationship between Doucette and her aunt could have been explored further for I felt that we were barely told of their time together even though it w
Wow, I gotta say that I LOVE the use of magic in this story. It's believable and there's even a price to it! A PRICE! I love it when there's a price to magic, as it makes one think if it's worth using or not. (Or strive for.) I really enjoyed its addition to the plot, and how Doucette eventually has to chose between magic or love.

...But oh man, the characters... THE CHARACTERS. All of them are so mean, like, really REALLY REALLY mean! Especially the Swan Maidens! Their cruelty to Doucette practi
Quite enjoyed this one. It smacked of some of the old fairy tales, though I could not pinpoint which one, but it put some life into them that the old ones never had. A little odd in some parts, and I still wonder how the relationship between the two main characters grew to love when they spent so very little time together.

I did find myself annoyed at the main character for some of her actions, particularly later on - and some early on, though I did not mind so much near the beginning, as she had
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Heather Tomlinson grew up in California and New Hampshire, graduating from Wellesley College with a degree in French literature. After teaching English in France and French in the United States, she worked at a book wholesaler. Now she writes the kinds of novels she likes to read.

Heather lives on a sailboat in southern California with her engineer husband, her baby boy, and cats X, Y, and Z.
More about Heather Tomlinson...