By R.C. Lewis
Published: October 6, 2015
Sixteen-year-old heiress and paparazzi darling Liddi Jantzen hates the spotlight. But as the only daughter in the most powerful tech family in the galaxy, it's hard to escape it. So when a group of men shows up at her house uninvited, she assumes it's just the usual media-grubs. That is, until shots are fired.
Liddi escapes, only to be pulled into an interplanetary conspiracy more complex than she ever could have imagined. Her older brothers have been caught as well, trapped in the conduits between the planets. And when their captor implants a device in Liddi's vocal cords to monitor her speech, their lives are in her hands: One word, and her brothers are dead.
Desperate to save her family from a desolate future, Liddi travels to another world, where she meets the one person who might have the skills to help her bring her eight brothers home-a handsome dignitary named Tiav. But without her voice, Liddi must use every bit of her strength and wit to convince Tiav that her mission is true. With the tenuous balance of the planets deeply intertwined with her brothers' survival, just how much is Liddi willing to sacrifice to bring them back?
Haunting and mesmerizing, this retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's The Wild Swans fuses all the heart of the classic tale with a stunning, imaginative world in which a star-crossed family fights for its very survival.
As a kid, The Wild Swans was one of my favorite fairy tales for some reason. I think I just admired the heroine and how much she went through to save her brothers. I have read some different retellings of this fairy tale over the years such as Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier and The Swan Kingdom by Zoe Marriott but this is the first time I read a science fiction take on the story.
Liddi is an heiress to her family's technology company but she lives in the shadow of her brothers' brilliance. They began inventing things at very young ages and Liddi has yet to show anything at the annual Tech Reveal. She spends her days dodging paparazzi vidcams and fending off people who want to use her or get 15 minutes of fame in her company. Liddi loves her brothers but doesn't get to see them that much since they've all grown and moved away. It takes awhile for her to realize something is wrong when her brothers go missing and then strangers show up at her house looking to grab her. Things get worse when Liddi trusts the wrong person and ends up implanted with a device that will harm her brothers if she speaks.
Tiav lives on the planet of Ferinne and he and his mother are part of its leadership. They take Liddi in when she shows up unexpectedly even though Tiav's best friend and others view her with suspicion. Tiav finds a way to communicate with Liddi and while she can't risk telling him all the details, she starts to have hope that with his help she can figure out a way to get her brothers free.
I felt bad for Liddi and all she has to go through. At times I was frustrated with the way people assumed the worst about her. I was glad she found some unexpected allies. I also thought she didn't believe in herself very much. I think because she felt she wasn't living up to the family name and because she'd been hurt by others it kind of affected her confidence. It was nice to see that change as she became more of a leader. The romance was okay. I didn't really feel much chemistry between Tiav and Liddi though I did like him as a character. It just felt like it was an expected part of the story.
While some parts of the story felt a little slow moving (all her attempts to learn to communicate with Tiav felt really drawn out), it was overall a good story and a very creative retelling. I liked the various settings and really liked the protagonist. I was favorably reminded at times of the Starbound series by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. I hope R.C. Lewis writes some more fairy tale retellings in the future. It almost fills the void left by the conclusion of Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles.
Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley