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English teacher interested in language and culture, and also in fiction using magic, myth, folklore and the supernatural. Now teaching part-time in a Leicester Upper School (ages 14-19) and also writing for children, teens and teachers.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Magical Monday: Black Swan Rising by Lee Carroll

An excellent Urban Fantasy novel with thriller aspects, this is my first Transworld Book Group review.

Title: Black Swan Rising
Author: Lee Carroll (husband and wife team Carol Goodman and Lee Slonimsky)
Published: 2010
Publisher: Transworld (Imprint: Bantam)
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Find it at Amazon UK

The blurb says:
Jeweller Garet James isn't the same as everyone else.
She just doesn't know it yet.

With her fair share of problems – money (lack of), an elderly father, a struggling business – Garet should be just like any other young, single New Yorker. If only it was that simple...

It began with the old silver box that had been soldered shut. All Garet had to do was open it. A favour for the frail owner of the antiques shop. Who wouldn’t help?

Only then things start to change. Garet doesn't notice at first, the shifts are barely perceptible. But the city is beginning to reveal a darker, long-hidden side. Figures, shadows, flit in and out of her vision. She finds herself drawn to the mysterious Will Hughes. He’s a stranger and yet Garet feels she has known him for an eternity?

And whatever escaped the box has no intention of going back in...

My verdict: beautiful writing and an exciting plot. I can't wait to read the rest in the trilogy. Highly recommended.
This book is superbly written. Garet's voice as narrator is involving and draws you to her effectively. Descriptions are deftly handled and it is very easy to submerge yourself into the world the authors have created. There is plenty of real-world grounding before the more paranormal aspects come into play and this ensures we have a good sense of Garet's character before the more surreal things begin to happen to her. The conflicts in this novel come from the real world as well as the supernatural - it is not so simple as the clash between the two causing all the excitement - which lends the book more depth than is sometimes expected of the genre.   

This is a thrilling adventure with a big supernatural quest plot spiced with a little romance. I really enjoyed Garet's tale of awakening and discovering her abilities and place in the universe, and I was also thrilled to see a range of supernatural/paranormal characters throughout the story, many of whom were familiar from mythology and literature. I also appreciated the shades of grey in this novel: trust is a major theme and this adds realism to a highly fantastic story.

The novel resolves its initial conflicts, whilst leaving us keen to see where the story will go next, and the final chapter makes clear that there is more to come and sets up the second book, to some extent. I am glad that Watchtower, the second in the series, is available immediately (although that won't help me once I'm waiting for the next one!).

Overall, this is a great choice if you like the paranormal and enjoy urban fantasy, particularly if you also enjoy the crime or thriller genre. It offers more depth than the 'paranormal romance' or 'dark fantasy' genre, as it is essentially a quest or good-versus-evil type story (although it isn't always clear exactly where those lines are drawn which adds more interest and complexity).


  1. Great review. I thought this book looked interesting, and, having read your review, now think I'll add it to my "to-read" list, so thanks!

  2. Sounds creepy and yummy. Love the cover.


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