So I’ve been getting a lot of comments between Amazon reviews and goodreads that people are hoping I will keep writing adaptions of fairy tales, as I did with Beauty and the Beast. I have news for you B&B fans, I am planning to do another fairy tale. A whole bunch of fairy tales, actually. I was going to keep it secret for a bit longer, but I’m bursting to share, so the next fairy tale I will be writing (after I finish Embittered) is a retelling of….
The Wild Swans
There’s actually two versions of this fairy tale, the Wild Swans (by Hans Christian Anderson) and the Six Swans (by the Brothers Grimm). The stories are nearly identical, the only thing that varies is the number of brothers and some of the details of when the sister gets married. The basic story is this: A king with many sons and one daughter is bewitched by a wicked witch and marries her–being that his wife is dead. This wicked witch wants to rule after the king dies, so she curses the sons to take on the shape of swans–although they can briefly turn human for 15 minutes (or an hour according to some versions) every night. The witch tries to curse the daughter too, but she fails and the girl flees with her brothers to a far away land.
The sister learns (typically through a fairy queen) that if she knits stinging nettles into a shirt and makes a shirt for every brother while never speaking a single word the curse will be broken. She decides to do the task–even though her brothers assure her it is impossible–and while she spends months knitting the king of the country they are staying in finds her. The king, naturally, falls in love with her at first sight. Being that she is mute and doesn’t fight back, the king is able to carry her off to the palace, intending to marry her. (My version of the story is going to stray from that line, though, as I am not a big fan of love at first sight.) One day, while the king is off riding around again, the king’s mother accuses the sister of witchcraft–because she’s always knitting and she’s got these big swans that like to flock around her–and tries to have her burned at the stake. The daughter finishes the last shirt just as the villagers are lighting the wood on fire (talk about a tight deadline) and she throws the shirts on her swan brothers, turning her royally ticked off brothers back into humans. (Let’s just say they don’t take too kindly to the whole almost burning their sister thing.) Now that she is freed from rescuing her brothers the sister is able to speak and defend herself against the claims of witch craft, which she does so just as the king returns. The king’s mother gets whacked, and the brothers and sister live happily ever after in the king’s kingdom, apparently abandoning their bewitched father.
There are several versions of this story beyond the Wild Swans and the Six Swans, but all of them follow the basic plot of the brothers getting cursed and their sister knitting shirts of stinging nettles and almost being burned at the stake. (Who accuses the sister of witch craft and why she is accused of witch craft typically varies from version to version.)
I’ve been looking forward to this story for a while because it’s one of the few fairy tales where the girl not only rescues herself, but her brothers as well. I will put my own spin on it of course, as I mentioned the plot line with the king falling in love with the mute sister is going to see some big changes because I want to use this fairy tale to illustrate the sacrifices we make for love.
Finally, as one extremely sharp eyed reader in an Amazon review has already guessed, the main cast of this fairy tale will be the seven princes and the adopted princess of Arcainia–the little country Prince Lucien was gung-ho to take over before Severin told him off. (I LOVE foreshadowing!)
It’s not a story that is typically adapted, which was partially why I wanted to do it. Hopefully you will enjoy it! (Don’t let my poo-pooing of the romance in this fairy tale turn you off, it is a… if not cute read at least a fun one.)
Sounds great! I’ve never heard that story before. Looking forward to reading your version!