I received this book from Hot Key Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
When her father dies just before her birthday, seventeen-year-old Aderyn inherits the role of Protector of Atratys, a dominion in a kingdom where nobles are able to transform at will into the bird that represents their family bloodline. Aderyn’s ancestral bird is a swan. But she has not transformed for years, not since witnessing the death of her mother – ripped apart by hawks that have supposedly been extinct since the long-ago War of the Raptors.
With the benevolent shelter of her mother and her father now lost, Aderyn is at the mercy of her brutal uncle, the King, and his royal court. Driven by revenge and love, she must venture into the malevolent heart of the Citadel in order to seek the truth about the attack that so nearly destroyed her, to fight for the only home she has ever known and for the land she has vowed to protect.
‣ POV: 1st person, Aderyn
‣ Summary in Emojis: 🦅👑👗☠️
‣ Trigger and Content Warnings: murder, violence, death of a parent, incest, attempted rape, torture
I struggled a bit with the pacing of this novel. It takes a while to get going in the beginning, and then the ending was quite rushed. I did enjoy it overall but I never found myself fully involved and I did find myself disliking the heroine in places.
In regards to our heroine, Aderyn has a very privileged and prejudiced way of thinking that is reflected in her actions, even when she herself believes over wise. Especially where it concerns her maid, her ‘childhood friend’ who she still orders around and basically treats as a servant. There’s a definite class barrier between them that made it very hard for me to see the two of them as proper friends, even when Aderyn insisted that they were.
If you’ve read any YA fantasy you’ll definitely find parts of this one to be a bit predictable, there’s a lot of familiar tropes. On the other hand if you are a fan of these tropes, you’ll find a lot to love here. You have a bit of a love triangle, a lot of politics and lies, and I did enjoy a lot of it. Although I’ll admit I did roll my eyes at some of the situations the characters got themselves into, in particular Aderyn is very impulsive and doesn’t think her actions through. And the love interest, Lucien, took a long time to warm up to, he’s very caustic towards Aderyn to start with.
One aspect I did like a lot was the concept of shape-shifting birds, and the initial Swan Lake inspiration. I am a huge fan of Swan Lake and I did love to see how the authors included bits and pieces from it. And although there is an open-ending the book does not end on a cliff-hanger! This was so welcome in YA fantasy where if you’re reading a trilogy/duology there is ALWAYS an annoying cliff-hanger. I did really enjoyed the LGBT rep as well, I just wish there were more of it. I hope it’s expanded on in the sequel.
Overall I did enjoy this one but I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would. I did enjoy it enough to pick up my copy, I had to own a physical copy because the copy is gorgeous and even more stunning in person!