From USA Today featured novelist and Western Writers of America Spur award finalist Milana Marsenich, The Swan Keeperis an historical, coming-of-age novel set in 1920s Montana.
On her eleventh birthday, Lilly’s family visits the Cattail Marsh to see the newly hatched cygnets. The family outing turns tragic when Dean Drake shows up with his shotgun. Lilly sees him kill her father, injure her mother, and slaughter the bevy of trumpeter swans. The sheriff, her mother, sister, and best friend all think Lilly is trying to make sense of a senseless accident by blaming Drake. But Lilly knows the truth. Left alone she must bring him to justice.
“Author Milana Marsenich has penned a dramatic page-turner brimming with authentic detail. She knows this Montana countryside inside and out, her vivid descriptions capturing the spirit of the craggy Mission Mountains.”—Maggie Plummer, author of Spirited Away – A Novel of the Stolen Irish and Daring Passage: Book Two of the Spirited Away Saga
Lily’s 11th birthday was supposed to be one filled with the magic of turning 11, after all Nell, Pa, and sister Anna told her it was a magical age to be. Instead she witnesses her father and mother shot along with the swans her family loved so much, her sister too far to witness the shooting or Lily trying to save the swans and no one believes her when she says she saw who shot them.
Using a bit of mysticism in the form of swans and a bit of spirituality, Marsenich brings to the table a rather beautiful coming of age tale. The story makes you feel as if you’re there breathing the air with Lily, soaking in Montana and the beauty of the trumpeter swans. I really enjoyed this so much more than I thought I would after reading the first chapter.
With no one believing her, her Pa dead, and her mother unavailable to the world let alone her daughters, Lily finds strength in taking care of Pearl, a trumpeter swan. Along the way though she doesn’t give up in her determination to catch the man who killed her father, taking the matter of the law into her own hands.
Along the way Lily does get a little help but being 11 means that the adults just will not listen, and the magic of 11 seems like a thing of the past when her family was still whole, and unfortunately 12 doesn’t look any brighter with Dean Drake the murderer still on the loose. Why he’s killed her Pa and why her mother survived is a tale as old as time: jealousy.
Lily searches for clues, protects swans, and battles with the stubbornness of the Sheriff and the right just to be heard.
I did enjoy this but do remember that this had an element of spirituality that may not be to your liking. I wouldn’t say it was overpowering but I just want to to make sure it’s mentioned.