A remarkable new author makes a debut that is nothing short of brilliant in this lyrical retelling of the legend of the swans.

It is a time of magic in Ireland, and the Fair Folk still play their games with mankind. Sorcha is a healer and, as such, feels called upon to heal an injured Briton and help him escape her fathers dungeons. But her ministrations are cut short when her father brings home a new bride, one who awakens great unease in Sorcha and her siblings. Their fears prove to be more than justified as the lady Oonagh weaves a dreadful spell to condemn them to life as swans.

Although Sorcha escapes transformation, her fate is far worse than that of her brothers. Only she, mute, can save them by weaving shirts out of nettles. It will take years of bitter loneliness, heartache and physical trauma to fulfill her duty.

Then one day her life is saved by another Briton, one who carries her off to his own people across the sea,a man who somehow understands with- out words that she has a crucial task to complete. As her battered heart begins to respond to Lord Hugh of Harrowfield, she will be caught between conflicting loyalties that may see the death of either her siblings or the man that she has come to love so deeply.

A simply beautiful storyteller, Ms. Marilliers debut novel brings a classic Celtic fairy tale to vibrant, glowing life with riveting prose and lyrical magic. Haunting in its intensity, this stunning reading experience will linger like the finest of wines. (May, 400 pp., $25.95)

Reviewed by: 
Melinda Helfer