Book Reviews

Review: A Warning About Swans by R.M. Romero

Having loved everything I’ve read by Romero recently, I was so excited about A Warning About Swans. This one is a powerful reminder of embracing our power, using our voice all with a fairy tale background. Keep reading this book review of A Warning About Swans for my full thoughts.


Bavaria. 1880. Hilde was dreamed into existence by the god Odin, and along with her five sisters, granted cloaks that transform them into swans. Each sister’s cloak is imbued with a unique gift, but Hilde rejects her gift which connects her to the souls of dying creatures and forces her to shepherd them into the afterlife—the “Other Wood.”

While guiding the soul of a hawk to the Other Wood, Hilde meets the handsome Baron Maximilian von Richter, whose father was once a favorite of the king and left him no inheritance. Hilde is intrigued by Richter’s longing for a greater life and strikes a deal with him: She will manifest his dreams of riches, and in return, he will take her to the human world, where she will never have to guide souls again.

But at the court of King Ludwig II in Munich, Hilde struggles to fit in. After learning that fashionable ladies are having themselves painted, she hires non-binary Jewish artist Franz Mendelson, and is stunned when Franz renders her with swan wings. The more time she spends with Franz, the more she feels drawn to the artist’s warm, understanding nature, and the more controlling Richter becomes. When Hilde’s swan cloak suddenly goes missing, only Franz’s ability to paint souls can help Hilde escape her newfound prison.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

A Warning About Swans has a distinct fairy tale feeling. Beginning with sisters who each have a special magical power, Hilde’s story is born from her sadness. Her powers to ferry souls to the underworld requires her to hold and witness pain, grief, and loss. She wants to avoid carrying that pain, even if her father believes she’s the strongest to do so. However in her plan to escape, she ends up meeting someone who might be even more dangerous.

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Loneliness is no comfort, it’s alienating. But we also fear being understood, being seen for who we are. A Warning About Swans delves into toxic relationship. Love isn’t possession. It isn’t ownership. It isn’t control and forcing someone to stay with us. We can want so badly to be loved, to be wanted, but when we force someone then it isn’t real. Hilde has to figure out who she is without someone telling her.

A Warning About Swans is tender and heartfelt. It begins with our desire to be our own, to choose our own future, ends up in a trap with golden edges. And ends a story about true love which expands our lives not controls or constricts it. A story about our own power and selves. Find A Warning About Swans on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon,, Blackwells, & Libro. fm.


What is your favorite original fairy tale?

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