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[personal profile] booksofafeather
So sorry about the absent reviews recently m(_ _)m My problem in doing it, is, I have a very bad memory. And so, reading any book I want to review, I have to take notes constantly. Somehow, this is taking away from the enjoyment of the book... so... I have not been doing the reviews so much recently.

But, I decided that to do it in a different structure is better than nothing, right? So, this review is a little different from normal, not so much structure, but, just writing about it. I hope you like it anyway m(_ _)m

I'm going to talk about three books here: Murkmere and Ambergate by Patricia Elliott, and, The Swan Maiden by Heather Tomlinson.

All three of these books focus on swan maidens (though, Ambergate is the companion book to Murkmere, and, follows the character Scuff from that first book, but, the swan maiden plot also returns in it). And, they are all very beautiful in writing, with some dark haunting feeling and some fascinating ideas. Particularly, the bird-focused religion in Murkmere and Ambergate is very interesting, unique, and, gives an atmosphere to the books, as well as being the frame for much of the plot.

All the books also have a strong and interesting female as the main character, and, particularly, I like the character of Leah in Murkmere, a high-born but wild-hearted girl with a personality and nature that is an exact echo of the swan. Any swan-kin out there, will see something from themselves definitely in her I think, in her fierce and dangerous beauty that cannot be tamed. Doucette in The Swan Maiden is also similar... a kind girl, and yet, she has that alien, swan nature, that pulls her away from human life and human love, afraid to be trapped.

The other thing that all of these books have in common is a very strong and positive idea of what a swan maiden is like. Like I said before, the swan maiden characters in the books have a feeling about them that rings true... being a swan maiden myself, I know this. Unlike some characters in certain books I reviewed, who don't react in any strong way about losing their wings, the swan maidens in both books are fiercely possessive of their swanskins, and, over many threats to take it from them, you can see and feel the pain in their hearts. (This might be quite triggering, in all three of the books I mention.) The swanskins, the wings, the flying, are treated like their souls... if you have ever read His Dark Materials series, and you know how the armoured bears treat their armour, then, you have some idea of how it is in these books. As it should be, as it should be.

I'm also happy to say, that none of the books end with messages about giving up your swan nature to be with someone you love. In The Swan Maiden, Doucette finds a middle choice that means she doesn't have to give up either, and, her love learns to accept what she is. In Murkmere... well... let's just say I love the ending, and, not spoil it. And, Ambergate is not a let down in that way, either. That is part of what makes me review all these books together... they all have such heart and understanding, about being a swan girl who is not really human, about needing (not just wanting, but, needing) magic, about the fear of being trapped without the skin, how they will not give it up for anything.

There is an absolute wild heart in all of these books, and, they are definitely worth reading. I will say, that The Swan Maiden does have some slightly negative thoughts on magic, but, also some very positive ones, and, the transformation parts are beautiful, and will give you shivers for sure. I don't think there's anything to regret about Murkmere, and Ambergate is fun to read with only a handful of small parts that feel a little slow. I can definitely say, that these books all deserve five out of five... that score does not mean "perfect", because, no book is perfect, but, it means "this has so much deep content about being a bird person, you shouldn't miss it if you are one". Especially for any other swans out there, but, also bird people in general.
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