This is technically a reread, but it’s been so long since I first read it, I really couldn’t remember what was going to happen next, other than the bare bones from the Swan Lake ballet this is based on.
Swan Lake the ballet is mostly about Princess Odette, who is cursed by an evil sorcerer (with a number of other maidens) to be a swan during the day, and a woman at night. Prince Siegfried happens upon the lake where the maidens live, and swears to help her break the curse. The evil sorcerer tries to intervene by charming his daughter Odile to look exactly like Odette, so Siegfried will marry her, and therefore not break the curse.
In this book, Lackey fills in quite a few details. It’s not as much Odette’s story – instead it’s Odile’s story – where she is a sorceress in her own right, and at the beginning firmly believes in what her father is doing. He curses the maidens because they have betrayed men in their lives. And he sees the greatest betrayer in Prince Siegfried’s mother, Queen Clothilde. She has ruled as regent for her son, and now that he is of age, is scheming to keep the throne from him. The swans become part of that scheme.
This is a really satisfying expansion to the story, although I think she goes a little too far setting up Siegfried’s need to reform his life at the beginning of things. But it is nice to have some motivation for the sorcerer, and Odile’s journey is a satisfying one.