I was offered an ARC of Swan Boy by the publishers (who are pretty nice people, all in all, but I'm not going to let that affect my review.)
It sounded interesting, so I decided to take them up on the offer.
uifhngionriondfkgnrnhtlg - I AM SO GLAD I AGREED TO READ AND REVIEW THIS BOOK!
Where do I start? Where do I even start?
Basically, I loved this book. It is excellent. The characters were fantastic and the plot was interesting (as well as pretty bizarre in places - and I like me some bizarre-ness.)
Little Mojo, Johnny's brother, damn near broke my heart at various points.
Somehow, Sheehan perfectly shows us this hurt and confused little boy, in the heart-wrenching way of a 5-year-old who's lost his father.
The magical aspects are beautiful. The weaving into the story of the swans and the music and the dancing worked so well.
But the main strength of this book? The writing.
Sheehan's writing is beautiful. Worthy of comparison to The Book Thief (UK - US,) in its lyricality, its beauty, and the strength of its sparse prose.
If you read this blog a lot you may have noticed me mention sparse prose.
If you don't have a clue what I'm on about, let me explain: some writers are capable of using the words they don't say without over-burdening the words that they do.
Simple sentences that carry the world in the white spaces. That's what I mean by 'sparse prose.'
Not many people can carry it off: Markus Zusak does it, Joe Hill does it, and, weirdly, James Franco does it (although in verse not prose.)
Turns out, Nikki Sheehan can do it too.
Well, there are some issues which could upset people: bullying, isolation, bereavement, and a dash of violence.
The swan poo bit on the first page kind of grossed me out.
Some people may disagree with the way Johnny deals with the bullying, I suppose.
Other than that? I honestly can't think of anything else. I actually wish that I could so that I could pad this section out a bit more...
(Really, what else is there to say? It was that good.)
It's probably appropriate for ages 11+