Author: Milana Marsenich
Genre: General Fiction
Format: Paperback 256 pages
Release Date: 16 May 2018
Publisher: Open Books
My Rating: ****
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
About the Book
Lilly is a young girl who can’t wait to turn eleven years old. She lives in what seems an idyllic setting in the mountains of rural Montana with her parents and fourteen year old sister. Her father is an avid photographer and has a particular interest in photographing trumpeter swans in the marshlands near their family home.
Lilly is like any young girl and spends her days in her make believe world and fantasises that she is a kindred spirit of the swans her father photographs. Although the swans are beautiful and rare they are at risk from hunters and having witnessed the slaughter of one of the baby swans, Lilly’s father is convinced he knows who the ‘swan killer’ is.
On the day Lilly turns eleven, her only wish is to see the swans and the family make a day of it by riding their bikes out to the swans nest in the marshlands. While Lilly climbs a tree pretending she is in the hands of a giant she witnesses a man senselessly shoot her parents with a shotgun.
Although Lilly looks into the eyes of the killer, when she recounts her story to the sheriff and anyone who will listen, no one believes her. For who would believe the words of a young girl who spends her days in the world of make-believe?
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You can probably tell from the four stars I have given that I enjoyed this book, but what I wasn’t expecting was quite how much I would enjoy it.
The authors writing style is like none i’ve come across and her use of imagery and descriptive prose throughout is really beautiful. I’ve never visited Montana, but the detailed descriptions the author gives of the mountainside and the marshlands made me feel like i’d been on a visit there after I had finished the book.
The author captures what it’s like to be eleven and that feeling of desperation when no one takes you seriously or believes what you say. It’s ironic really that Lilly struggles throughout with the morals of telling little white lies that all children tell, yet the one thing she doesn’t lie about, who shot her parents, is the one thing she’s actually telling the truth about.
This book delves into family relationships, the beauty of nature and animals, whilst weaving a lovely coming of age theme. Wonderfully written and a book I was not expecting to enjoy as much as I did. I thoroughly recommend anyone who likes their fiction with these themes to add ‘The Swan Keeper’ to their bookshelf.
About the Author
Milana Marsenich lives in Northwest Montana near Flathead Lake at the base of the beautiful Mission Mountains. Western Writers of America selected her debut novel, Copper Sky, as a Spur Award finalist for Best Western Historical Novel. Milana has an M.Ed. in Mental Health Counselling from Montana State University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Montana. She has previously published in Montana Quarterly, Big Sky Journal, The Polishing Stone, and Feminist Studies. She has a short story included in the Montana Quarterly book Montana, Warts and All: The Best From Our First Decade.
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