A Dark Retelling of a Well-known European Fairytale

Witch. Cailleach. Dark-hearted girl.

There has always been something disturbing about Rawenna. She was born on the night of a storm so furious that it nearly destroyed her village. The waves grew so high they pounded on the houses below. As Rawenna came into the world, it seemed as if the wind itself would leave a mark on her soul. She’s carried something dark inside her ever since. Fearing what may happen if the darkness was released, Rawenna is never taught to use her power.

One terrible night, her mother is pulled into the sea. Rawenna sees something monstrous drag her under the waves. Soon afterwards, a curse settles on Rawenna’s family. Her brothers are transformed into swans and Rawenna’s voice is taken from her. She is unable to defend herself when she is falsely accused of witchcraft. She and her brothers flee to the city in search of answers. The darkness inside Rawenna begins to surface as she learns the curse can only be lifted through blood and suffering.

A Rush of Wings is a retelling of the European fairy tale The Wild Swans. Many different versions of this story have been told over the centuries. Sometimes there are six swans, sometimes there are four. Sometimes the main character is a hero and sometimes she is a victim.

Author Laura Weymouth chooses to tell her version of this story from a character that is both dark and innocent, strong and fragile. Rawenna is a complex character who’s journey of self-discovery is at the core of the story. I have always been fascinated by the story of The Wild Swans and A Rush of Wings takes a very dark look at the classic tale. The author does not shy away from grim imagery and the theme of death is present throughout the book. The Scottish coast fits the grey atmosphere of the story perfectly and is my favourite part of Weymouth’s writing. The natural world is brought into the description as well as the plot. The wind itself plays a large part in Rawenna’s fate. It’s up to the reader to decide whether the elements are good or evil or something in-between.

Readers who are not afraid to plunge into a dark tale with incredible atmosphere will want to check out A Rush of Wings.