“It’s a wild swan, not a human being in bird form.”
When a swan flies through and breaks a window in her apartment, Mitzi’s life turns entirely upside down. Much to her disbelief, the now injured swan that she has taken upon to nurse back to health turns out to be an enchanted princess from Russia whose lived over a hundred years through the deaths of everyone she’s ever loved. A Swan Lake retelling, I was rather excited to read this modern take on one of the most beloved stories of my childhood. The story follows a journalist as she navigates the new world and stranger who has come into her life by the mere circumstance of the weather. And I easily inferred quite a bit from the synopsis, believing this to be a story with a romance between two women. Unfortunately, that is not the path this book took.
Here’s the thing, I had a really hard time rating Odette by Jessica Duchen. The book wasn’t exactly bad, perse, but I just really hated everything about it. The story begins with Odette, but quickly moves to the central character, Mitzi, and spends the first two chapters just dragging on and on about her life without giving me any reason whatsoever to give a damn about it. This was frustrating enough, of course, without the rest of the frustrating plot to follow.
While there were aspects of it that called to the original story, leaving me with a nostalgic love for those pieces, the purported ‘modernization’ of the tale kind of ruined it for me. I wasn’t prepared for a story about a princess who’d been trapped as a swan for over a hundred years, but rather for one about a new princess in modern day. Additionally, the turn from romantic love to the love of friendship was just monumentally frustrating especially when the blurb describes it as a woman teaching Odette that she does not need a man to pronounce his everlasting love in order to be saved.
Add in pointless characters that I literally could not bring myself to care about in the slightest–ironically, the main character Mitzi was the one I hated most–and the book became more of a chore to read than something I was actually interested in. But I trudged on, hoping that there would at least be some semblance of a believable love story between the two women but eventually found myself giving up on that piece, too.
And then, as if to top it all off, the villain was painfully predictable and there was really nothing unique to the story aside from the disposal of Odette’s prince and the inclusion of awful characters, though believable, weren’t even the least bit likable. Well, except for Chris, I suppose. But his purpose in the story was literally to just be a red herring and open up an opportunity for Odette to remember how much she loves being an actual person.
I just feel like the book was a lot of leading on and a lot of disappointing which ultimately leaves me feeling like I should have given it a much lower rating, but I suppose I can accept that perhaps this book simply wasn’t meant for me.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.