Title: Children of the Swan
Author: Coral Walker
Series: The Land of Taron #1
Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Novella (Part 1 of 3)
Their parents are gone. They have not just gone. They have gone with all their furniture.
There is something small and peculiar in young Bo’s hand — it’s Dad’s ring. How could Dad have left without the ring?
Bo is abducted. Chasing after him, his older siblings Jack and Brianna dive into a wormhole that takes them to the land of Taron, a perilous land fuelled by hatred and plagued by vicious snake-like, man-eating bokwas.
Blue-skinned Baran people catch them and sell them to an arena where Barans entertain themselves watching slave boys fight to the death. Dad is there, staring at them like they are strangers.
The contest is brutal; the rules are clear — one game, one survivor.
There are boys as young as Jack. Can he kill?
And there’s Brianna, the one he has spent all his life squabbling with, and the last person he thought he would care about. If he doesn’t kill, she will die.
There’s no choice. He must kill, for Brianna, for Bo …
Source: ARC from the author via email
This book was a struggle. It started out as this odd old-fashioned tale, where the parents have vanished leaving three kids alone. I found it very hard to believe that Jack and Brianna were both sixteen – they argue all the time and neither of them are remotely mature, Jack seems a lot older than Brianna, and they definitely don’t act like two children raised as siblings. At one point, one saves the other, and all they can do is complain because they got hurt in the process – no thank you, just a complaint. Nice.
Then it suddenly goes all sci-fi with aliens and worm holes and space travel… and to be honest I felt a bit lost. I felt no connection to any of the characters, it was obvious what was going to happen with Bo, and Jack makes some completely random leaps in logic to shout accusations and put together clues that weren’t even there. Baffling. Especially when they then won’t believe the obvious.
Then we end up in Taron, and the story goes from a simple kids tale, to this violent, miserable world with horrible things happening all the time – enslavement, death, torture, torment, tyrants – and if this hadn’t been given to me for review I would have stopped reading, because I really wasn’t enjoying it.
The real problem for me was that I couldn’t connect with the characters at all. Nor do the characters themselves seem to connect with what’s happening to them. Jack goes through so much in this book, yet none of it seems to affect him. He just keeps trying to smile and throwing out random giggles (there are a lot of random giggles) and taking every new twist with an unbelievable air of calm. He doesn’t feel anything, but then nor does Brianna. It’s weird.
Add in the Barans themselves, with their strange twisted politics and a wicked, evil prince… There is so much going on, yet this is only a shortish installment of a three part book. It felt like it was trying to do too much, so skimmed over plenty of things, and left the characters hanging without giving me anything to connect to.
Sadly, this book just wasn’t for me. I found it too simple at the beginning, too rushed in the middle and too depressing in Taron. If I’d liked the characters more, I might have enjoyed it, but in the end I’m afraid I didn’t.
If you want something quick, where lots of things happen, some of them fairly unpleasant, and you’re more interested in fast plots than interesting characters, you may well enjoy this. It blends sci-fi and fantasy quite well and there’s always plenty of things going on. You might have to fill in a few gaps yourself, though, and be aware that because this is only part one, it does end on a few cliffhangers. But if that sounds like your sort of thing, enjoy.
Children of the Swan: The Land of Taron, Part 1 is Out Now.
Visit Coral Walker for more details.