Have you ever read that Grimm’s fairy tale, about the girl with the six brothers who get turned into swans? In order to free them from the spell, the sister has to weave six shirts out of stinging nettles without speaking a word. By the time she’s finishing the sixth one, through a long series of unfortunate events, she’s going to be burned at the stake as a witch. But the swans come at the last minute, and she throws the shirts on them, turning them human again. All but the youngest brother, because she didn’t have time to finish one sleeve, so he still has one arm that’s a wing.
Did you ever wonder what happened to him? Apparently I’m not the only one, because Rafe Martin wrote a book about him.
It’s a pretty good book, as fairytale retellings go. Ardwin is treated as an oddball in his castle, and his wing gets him in trouble as it knocks things over. But it gives him the ability to hear animals speak, which comes in handy quite often.
Enter some intrigue with a neighboring evil king wanting Ardwin to marry his daughter, and an accompanying bribe in the shape of a magical mechanical arm to replace his wing. But Ardwin just wants to be a swan again, so he takes off north to the swan nesting grounds. But he finds out that what he thinks he wants and what he truly needs are two different things.
The book entertains and moves along at a pretty good pace, but my attention wavered, because Ardwin’s inner journey completed before the climax of the plot. The plot’s climax felt tacked on and everything resolved too quickly, smacking of deus ex machina. There was also a mild implied bed scene that I thought was unnecessary in a juvenile fiction book. (Couldn’t it have been a kissing scene instead? I mean really, in a juvenile fiction book, it amounts to the same thing.)
Other than that, it was a fun read, and it was nice to see a look at what might have happened to that last kid who was stuck with a wing.