In the interest of full disclosure, let me just say that I read Hanna’s review of Black Swan Rising before I had actually started the novel. Although I try not to let other people’s opinions influence my reading of books, I did agree with many of the point she made about this one. I did enjoy the novel, but parts of it weren’t quite enough for me. Personally, I’m massively interested in jewellery design – it was the thing I wanted to do at college but couldn’t face asking my parents to pay the stupidly huge studio and use of equipment fees – and I would have loved it if the book were a little more centred around that. As it was, Garet’s jewellery design business seemed nothing more than a premise to kick the action off, and after that it just became a sort of ‘by the way’. I wouldn’t have minded this so much if the blurb hadn’t made such a big deal of her being a jewellery designer –it made it seem like jewellery design would be integral to the story, and it just wasn’t.
The novel opens with Garet James on her way home to her father after hearing from their lawyer that they are in such bad debt that they are in danger of losing their home, which also doubles as an art gallery, Garet’s workshop, and their major source of income. Sheltering from rain, she finds herself in an antique jewellers shop, where a mysterious old man presents her with a sealed silver box with a seal which matches the pattern on her signet ring. Intrigued, she takes the box, promising to open and return it. Later that evening, she returns home and manages to open the box, somehow causing the contents to burn up, leaving only the name Will Hughes recognisable. Later that night, the house is broken into by terrifying men, who steal some paintings from the gallery, and escape through her skylight, taking the silver box and leaving her father wounded. With her father in hospital, Garet gets in touch with Will Hughes – a millionaire hedge fund manager whose company, Black Swan Partners, bears a logo of the same image as that on the box and her ring. She hopes that Hughes can help her find out who is behind the robbery, but what he really does is open the door to a whole new world for Garet...
I have to say, I kind of hated the character of Will Hughes. Like Hanna, I really didn’t see the point of him, and it kind of seemed like Carroll was trying to do a bit of a Twilight on me. I just don’t buy that all vampires are that sexy. The Cullen family are enough, no more please. Get a new love interest. Eurgh. It was odd, because I really liked the way that mythology and fairyland were incorporated into the story as a whole. I enjoyed the character of Oberon and lot, and also Ariel and Melusina were quite cool. I also liked the whole idea of Garet’s ancestors having passed on this task of being the Watchtower to her, but I have to say I didn’t really like her all that much. I have this thing, sometimes, where I just don’t believe a character – whatever they say, whatever they do, they just never quite become three dimensional for me, and that’s what happened with both Garet and Will. The only characters who really came alive for me, oddly enough, were Jay and Becky, Garet’s best friends. Maybe because they were the ones to whom traits of humanity were attributed – they are the ones who suffer for Garet, who help her through the death of her mother, who stay with her after the robbery and visit her father in hospital, and who just support her through everything she does, no matter how crazy. I think the major thing about the book was that I really wanted Garet and Jay to get together, and for her to stop being so completely self absorbed that she just didn’t care about her ‘best friend’s pain, and kept running off with some guy who basically had no personality, because let’s face it, nothing seemed to matter to her except that he was goodlooking. Bleh.
Having said all that, I did enjoy reading the book, and I finished it wanting to read the next in the series, despite thinking that I’ll probably feel let down by it, just by virtue of it being about Garet trying to find Will Hughes (what’s up with the continual use of both of his names, too?). I do wish that they’d used more of the swan mythology that was vaguely present throughout the novel, and I hope that the next novel will develop the mythological aspect of the story a bit more, because then I think I could really enjoy it. I really did, except for the niggling things which bothered me about it. Basically put, it had great potential, but didn’t quite live up to it for me.