Mercedes Lackey takes readers back to the ballet with her latest fairy tale fantasy, The Black Swan
, which retells the story of Swan Lake
. Lackey preserves much of the ballet's action but provides a happier ending than the original German folktale had. She also gives the characters depth and motivation by providing them with histories.
Baron Eric von Rothbart, a powerful sorcerer, hunts down women who have betrayed men and transforms them into swans who can only resume their true forms by moonlight. His lonely daughter Odile, who watches the flock and studies spells, longs vainly for his approval. One day von Rothbart tells Odette, the swan princess, that she can break the spell by winning and holding a man's faithful love for one month. He's even chosen a candidate, Prince Siegfried. Unfortunately, the prince is a womanizing hedonist. Should Odette succeed nevertheless, von Rothbart secretly plans a trap for them and the prince's ambitious mother, Queen Clothilde, who schemes to rule in her own right. But he must use Odile, who has befriended Odette and is no longer her father's puppet.
Some readers may find the descriptions of dancing and costumes tedious--and Prince Siegfried a questionable hero. Odile, however, is as vivid a heroine as any Lackey's written. --Nona Vero
From School Library Journal
YA-In this novelization of the ballet "Swan Lake," Odile von Rothbart, daughter of a vengeful sorcerer, lives on an isolated medieval estate with her father's prisoners, unfaithful young women who are swans by day and human while the moon shines. Unexpectedly, after years of living without hope, the swan maidens are offered their freedom if the Swan Queen, Odette, can win the faithful love of an eligible prince. Themes of marital and filial (in)fidelity combine to create a dark and tension-filled coming-of-age story. The sorcerer is obsessed with punishing women he deems untrustworthy, while his daughter has spent her life trying in vain to win his approval and affection. Odile initially makes excuses for her father's dishonorable behavior, but is forced to view him honestly as the story progresses. The prince has long ignored his own avaricious and callous mother and all royal duties. Both Odile and the prince discover that the growing responsibilities of adulthood require that they examine their consciences and make painful choices about loyalty to friends and family and self-sacrifice. The callous use of women and theme of sexual fidelity combined with the moody romance and story of betrayal make for a compelling read.Marsha Masone, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria, VA
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