by Diane Zahler
Princess Muriel’s happy and carefree childhood changes dramatically when her widowed father, the king, unexpectedly marries a beautiful but evil woman who Muriel instinctively distrusts. Shortly after the new Queen arrives in their home, Muriel’s six beloved brothers disappear. The king, bewitched by his new wife, does not believe Muriel when she tells him her brothers are missing, so Muriel has to take action. On her way to visit her friend Riona, a half-witch and healer, Muriel sees six swans swimming in a nearby lake and instantly recognizes them as her brothers. Riona tells Muriel that in order to save her brothers she must sew shirts out of stinging nettle and place one on each swan. To make matters more challenging, she can’t speak until the shirts are finished or her brothers will die. The story is familiar but Zahler tells it beautifully, weaving in fairies and other magical elements that make this an enchanting and lyrical story for readers of fantasy and lovers of strong, independent princesses.