'The Maker of Swans' by Paraic O'Donnell
"Mr Crowe was once the toast of the finest salons. A man of learning and means, he travelled the world, enthralling all who met him.
Now, Mr Crowe devotes himself to earthly pleasures. He has retreated to his sprawling country estate, where he lives with Clara, his mysterious young ward, and Eustace, his faithful manservant. His great library gathers dust and his once magnificent gardens grow wild.
But Mr Crowe and his extraordinary gifts have not been entirely forgotten. When he acts impetuously over a woman, he attracts the attention of Dr Chastern, the figurehead of a secret society to which Crowe still belongs. Chastern comes to Crowe’s estate to call him to account, and what follows will threaten everyone he cares for. But Clara possesses gifts of her own, gifts whose power she has not yet fully grasped. She must learn to use them quickly, if she is to save them all."
‘The Maker of Swans’ by Paraic O’Donnell is a historical novel with a slightly paranormal twist. I was sent a free proof copy of this book to read and review through Goodreads Giveaways.
Mr Crowe lives in a large, grand house with his young ward Clara and his manservant, Eustace. The story begins with a murder, and although gunshots were fired the man seems to have died of something else. It appears that Mr Crowe has used some sort of power, and his misuse of it means that there will be terrible consequences.
Clara is mute. As an avid reader and writer, she communicates only through the written word. She has full run of the house and grounds where she has many adventures and she writes about anything and everything. Mr Crowe is always nice to her, but she has a much deeper bond with Eustace, who would do anything to protect her. She is a very observant youngster and notices that something is going on when the house is suddenly overrun with extra staff who all seems to be preparing for a guest.
Eustace has hired extra staff to help get the house ready, including the Crouch brothers who pose as gardeners, but are in fact extra muscle in case things go wrong. The unwanted guest they are expecting is dangerous and Eustace will stop at nothing to make sure that he doesn’t hurt Clara.
For the first half of the book the chapters alternate between Eustace and Clara’s point of view. They both see the same events from a different perspective and it was great to read through the eyes of both the old and the young. The format changes slightly after the first half when something major happens (I won’t say what it is as I don’t want to spoil it!), and in the second half we also have flashbacks to one of the character’s past.
This book is definitely not easy-going. The language is tricky and there are some very complex conversations and passages of text that you need to really concentrate on whilst reading. But if you put in the effort it is so beautifully written and I found the text stunning. Although difficult, the story flowed really well. While not much really goes on for large parts of the book, I still found it a joy to read.
As the text is so whimsical and fanciful I did struggle sometimes to work out exactly what was happening. I believe that the ‘power’ has something to do with the written word but even after finishing the book I was left not really understanding what it was. Saying that though, I still really enjoyed the book.
I would give this book 4 stars :)
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