Maguire still has the magic touch ... charming ... But Maguire tells Laura’s story in lush prose, laced with humor and poignancy, weaving the fabulous into the quotidian world. It’s a spell you’ll be happy to have cast upon you.
A Wild Winter Swan, like so many of Maguire’s novels, could have been crafted in a lab with me in mind: a fairy tale retold! An inventive lonely heroine! A touch of magic in a recognizable world! And yet, it left me a little out in the cold. That isn’t to say that Maguire’s charms aren’t evident. He leans beautifully into imagery of owls and snow, holiday garlands and howling winds, elaborate meals prepared and yet not eaten ... He will set you up just to knock you over, again and again and in every one of his books; everything beautiful comes with a sharp edge ... A Wild Winter Swan is a slim little book, a fairy tale stretched and reshaped into a 20th century American tale about immigration, success, family, and growth. It’s featherlight but sharply detailed, and for all Nonna’s passion, there’s a coolness to the way Maguire spins out his yarn. Here and there, a dated word choice knocked me out of the story, but it was always Laura, crankily enduring her own coming-of-age, who brought me back in.
Yuletide gives the story a traditional season for European fairytales, while its snow-dusted 1960s Manhattan setting brings childhood magic to a modern (but smartphone-free) venue familiar from Hollywood movies ... Is Laura a pitiful orphan or a self-centered brat—or is she a woman-child struggling to emerge from isolation and grief? In A Wild Winter Swan, Maguire gives us all three, and in doing so achieves something rare: a book that puts a clever adolescent girl into a quasi-fairytale without being twee or didactic. Another rarity: Laura’s acute observations of her world, the tumult of her emotions, and her sexual unfolding never stray into rote sentimentality, yet a refreshing gentleness pervades the story ... In a masterful meld of fantasy, longing, and troublesome relationships, Maguire’s A Wild Winter Swan shows us, and its young protagonist, that heartfelt connections with other people—and with animals—can lay for us a bridge between life’s sorrows and its wonder.
At times, A Wild Winter Swan feels less like a fantasy novel and more like a family drama play with elements of magical realism. Conversations are deep and rich in subtext. Seemingly insignificant family details could mean life or death. And every step of the way, the imagery perfectly captures the feelings of the characters without ever stepping off the page and telling you why they are there ... This is a novel that is meant to be read in a book nook with thick socks and a winter sweater. It is a very comfortable read, where moments of stress and sadness bloom into scenes of real mystery and beauty. The climax brings cathartic surprises without becoming too overwhelming or explosive ... The characters, the reveals and the tensions are all brilliantly interwoven, which made me wonder at certain points: How did Maguire DO this? How did he explore these feelings? And make them all feel somehow aching, yet keep me grateful for and interested in these characters? By the end, I felt somewhat sad that I had finished spending time with Laura, her grandparents and the boy with one wing. A Wild Winter Swan is unlike anything I have read in a long time --- in its intimacy, simplicity and welcoming solace.
Maguire, whose gift for transforming children's stories is most famously on display in Wicked, works his magic once again in this retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale The Wild Swans. An enchanting, tender, often funny coming-of-age story whose perceptive truths about the human condition surprise and delight.
Maguire (Wicked) continues his fabulist fairy tale remixes with this enchanting story, which draws inspiration from the Hans Christian Andersen tale The Wild Swans ... Between troubles at school, the looming dread of attending a new boarding school in Canada, the expectations of her grandparents, and worries about her absent mother, Laura doesn’t really have time to deal with the boy who crash lands in her bedroom with one huge swan wing for a left arm. But this new challenge turns out to be exactly what Laura needs to find courage to begin moving forward in her own life. Maguire parallels the swan boy’s story of brokenness to Laura’s own struggles overcoming class and cultural differences. Fans of Maguire’s retellings will love this simple, elegant story.