2016 Spotlight: The Maker of Swans by Paraic O’Donnell.


Publication Date: 11th Feb 2016 from Orion

Source: Netgalley

It is no small matter, after all, to create something–to make it so only by setting down the words. We forget the magnitude, sometimes, of that miracle.

Mr Crowe was once the toast of the finest salons. A man of learning and means, he travelled the world, enthralling all who met him.

Now, Mr Crowe devotes himself to earthly pleasures. He has retreated to his sprawling country estate, where he lives with Clara, his mysterious young ward, and Eustace, his faithful manservant. His great library gathers dust and his once magnificent gardens grow wild.

But Mr Crowe and his extraordinary gifts have not been entirely forgotten. When he acts impetuously over a woman, he attracts the attention of Dr Chastern, the figurehead of a secret society to which Crowe still belongs. Chastern comes to Crowe’s estate to call him to account, and what follows will threaten everyone he cares for. But Clara possesses gifts of her own, gifts whose power she has not yet fully grasped. She must learn to use them quickly, if she is to save them all.

I am madly in love with this book. It is strange and wonderful, mad and compelling and the writing is absolutely utterly divine.

This is a story about Mr Crowe, about his ward Clara and at its heart it is about the beauty and power of language, given a little twist and a touch of whimsy and written with a fine eye for capturing the reader and enthralling absolutely.

A tale of two halves, in a way it is the imperfections which make it perfect – not all questions are answered, not everything needs to be known, The Maker of Swans has a rich, gothic feel and a deeply delicious story seen mostly through the eyes of a third. Mr Crowe and Clara are both intensely engaging characters and Paraic O’Donnell has created a brilliantly imaginative mythology.

It is actually quite a difficult one to review – not only because I do not want to give anything away, but because it has its own rhythm and sense of feeling, it rewards you in unexpected ways and at unexpected times.  I can see that it won’t be for everyone (mind you which book would be?) but for me it was enchanting, different and fascinating – this is one of those times that I was as much enjoying how the words fell off the page as I was the story they were telling. Which I guess is an odd way of putting it but hopefully will make a kind of sense.

With a positively ingenious ending and a wonderful way with words, Paraic O’Donnell has written a novel which is highly likely to be in my top ten of the year even though we are only in January. Sometimes you just know.

Highly Recommended.

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Happy Reading!

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