Book Review

A Wild Winter Swan – Gregory Maguire

Today I am joining the blog tour for festive fairy tale A Wild Winter Swan by Gregory Maguire. Many thanks to Harper 360 UK, and to Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part, and providing me with a copy of the book.


Following her brother’s death and her mother’s emotional breakdown, Laura now lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, in a lonely townhouse she shares with her old-world, strict, often querulous grandparents. But the arrangement may be temporary. The quiet, awkward teenager has been getting into trouble at home and has been expelled from her high school for throwing a record album at a popular girl who bullied her. When Christmas is over and the new year begins, Laura may find herself at boarding school in Montreal.

Nearly unmoored from reality through her panic and submerged grief, Laura is startled when a handsome swan boy with only one wing lands on her roof. Hiding him from her ever-bickering grandparents, Laura tries to build the swan boy a wing so he can fly home. But the task is too difficult to accomplish herself. Little does Laura know that her struggle to find help for her new friend parallels that of her grandparents, who are desperate for a distant relative’s financial aid to save the family store.

As he explores themes of class, isolation, family, and the dangerous yearning to be saved by a power greater than ourselves, Gregory Maguire conjures a haunting, beautiful tale of magical realism that illuminates one young woman’s heartbreak and hope as she begins the inevitable journey to adulthood.


Amazon UK


Being a big fan of Wicked, I was eager to read this latest offering from Gregory Maguire, and while I may not have fallen for it quite as hard as I did for Wicked, I found it to be a charming book. The setting was beautiful – New York in the snow just screams Christmas and the writing brought it to life beautifully. I loved the sections written as Laura narrating her own life. These gave real insight into her character and how she viewed her own worth.

The frenetic preparations for a vast Christmas Eve feast add pace to what would otherwise be a fairly gentle story. Mary Bernice was a wonderfully colourful character and I could happily spend my days camped in her kitchen.

As I read, I wanted to know more and more about Hans. I know the original fairy tale, but where did this Hans come from? I found myself wondering if he was really there or if he was a figment of Laura’s imagination and it was her who trashed her room and the dining room, and whether his presence was some sort of mental health breakdown after everything she had been through. She had certainly had a lot to deal with and yet remained strangely naïve. This theory gave me a lot to think about as I read, and kept me hooked into the book throughout.

As a Christmas tale about a family dealing with a lot, this is a great book, but the fairy tale side of things felt a little under utilised. That said, it is a beautiful coming of age story and I thoroughly enjoyed it.


Gregory Maguire received his Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Tufts University, and his B.A. from the State University of New York at Albany. He was a professor and co-director at the Simmons College Centre for the Study of Children’s Literature from 1979-1985. In 1987 he co-founded Children’s Literature New England. He still serves as co-director of CLNE, although that organisation has announced its intention to close after its 2006 institute.

The bestselling author of Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, Lost, Mirror Mirror, and the Wicked Years, a series that includes Wicked, Son of a Witch, and A Lion Among Men. Wicked, now a beloved classic, is the basis for the Tony Awared-winning Broadway musical of the same name. Maguire has lecture on art, literature, and culture bother at home and abroad.

He has three adopted children and is married to painter Andy Newman. He lives with his family near Boston, Massacusetts.




Make sure you visit the other blogs taking part on the tour.

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