ARC Book Review: A RUSH OF WINGS by Laura E. Weymouth

I received an eARC from the author in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Title in white on graphic of girl with dark hair and flying swans
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: standalone


Book cover for A RUSH OF WINGS: title in blue on dark hair of a girl with swans flying

Rowenna Winthrop has always known there’s magic within her. But though she hears voices on the wind and possesses unusual talents, her mother Mairead believes Rowenna lacks discipline, and refuses to teach her the craft that keeps their Scottish village safe. When Mairead dies a sinister death, it seems Rowenna’s one chance to grow into her power has passed. Then, on a fateful, storm-tossed night, Rowenna rescues a handsome stranger named Gawen from a shipwreck, and her mother miraculously returns from the dead. Or so it appears.

This resurrected Mairead is nothing like the old one: to hide her new and monstrous nature, she turns Rowenna’s brothers and Gawen into swans and robs Rowenna of her voice. Forced to flee, Rowenna travels to the city of Inverness to find a way to break the curse. But monsters take many forms, and in Inverness Rowenna is soon caught in a web of strangers who want to use her raw magic for their own gain. If she wishes to save herself and the people she loves most, Rowenna will have to take her fate into her own hands, and unlock the power that has evaded her for so long.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


A RUSH OF WINGS is a retelling of the Swan Maiden fairy tale (sometime Swan Princess or the Wild Swans.) That’s the same fairy tale that SIX CRIMSON CRANES retold. Having read them both within half a year, it was very interesting to compare and contrast them.

They’re very different tales, but you can see the core elements in both.We have the brothers (and this time also the love interest) turned into swans. There’s the shifts of burns-the-hand nettle that she has to weave – full of pain as a sacrifice. It’s a not-mother rather than a step-mother (and the monsters taken from Scottish folklore are really creepy here!)

Laura E. Weymouth writes British-set historical fantasy, and her books feel more accurate than other British-set historicals from non-British authors. It’s why I read her books, when I tend not to pick up British-set books by non-British authors (I’ve read too many bad ones that don’t manage to erase their own cultural impressions.) It’s in the little details and language choices. There’s no very modern Americanisms in there, and the mindset is not modern either.

I liked the way the natural world was brought in to the descriptions, both through Rowenna’s magic and the simple fact that that would have been a staple of life, magic or no. Plus, if you’re setting a book in Scotland, you have to take advantage of the gorgeous scenery!

I think this is set during the Jacobean Risings (late 17th century, early 18th.) No dates are given, nor is the actual king mentioned, but based on the various politics and battles around Inverness, and the way suspected witches are dealt with, Stuart period seems about right. I did rather like trying to puzzle it out.

I thought it was a bit much that the brothers blamed her for it and didn’t listen for ages that it wasn’t her fault, particularly given a later reveal from one of them. I understand his reasoning, but it did make me angry at him (and the others) before and after. In fact, it did mean that Rowenna’s rather passive acceptance of the situation felt very off to me, because there’s no way I’d accept things the way she did.

Read my reviews of other books by Laura E. Weymouth:


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