Nemesis & the Swan caught my attention because of the cover & when I read that it was set in historical France (mainly Paris) I just had to read it! Hélène’s story was incredibly emotional but the book was still a relaxing read, something that I needed at the time. This book is written really well & it completely consumed me.
I received a digital copy of this book via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
⚠️ This book contains sexism, a small amount of racism, classism, scenes of a sexual nature, sexual assault, domestic violence, attempted suicide, murder, hangings, arson, riots, gun use, mental health conditions & death of a child (referred to in a memory) ⚠️
Nemesis & the Swan was one of those books that I went into knowing I would love it; it’s historical fiction set in Paris during the French revolution (something which I am a little obsessed with right now) & is about a young aristocrat learning what the real world is like. After the first two chapters I was already wishing the book was longer than its 288 pages & by the end of the book I had loved running around Paris with Hélène.
This was a book that consumed me but in a chilled out kind of way… this isn’t an action packed adventure story but it was exactly what I needed at the time of reading; it helped me to escape the real world every time I picked up the book & made me feel relaxed, whilst also keeping me interested & emotionally invested. I did work out some of the secrets of Hélène’s family before she did but that didn’t reduce my enjoyment at all & actually just made me even more eager for Hélène to find out the truth about her heritage.
One thing that worked really well at keeping me engaged was the two timelines – both tell Hélène’s story but one is set in the future, when Hélène is in prison, & eventually the current chapters catch up with the future ones. Reading about Hélène’s horrible experiences in a dirty, dangerous prison whilst also reading about her over the top birthday party & her family secrets was a sure way to keep me reading because I was just so desperate to know why Hélène was in prison. It was both a relief & very sad when the two timelines finally caught up with one another.
Hélène was a fantastic protagonist & her development throughout the story felt very natural & believable, & it really didn’t take me long to get attached to her. I also liked, & in some cases loved, a lot of the people in Hélène’s life (I also hated all the ones I was supposed to hate) & I felt that every single character was written really well. This could so easily be one of those stories where the author is telling the story of one of her ancestors – it just felt so incredibly real.
Not long before reading this book I read Dangerous Remedy, another historical YA set in Paris during the French revolution; the setting that both Linsday K. Bandy & Kat Dunn constructed creates such a vivid image in my mind that it’s easy for me to imagine Olympe (my fav in DR) & Hélène running around the same streets, in the same city, at the same time. The books are completely unrelated but my love for Dangerous Remedy definitely helped me to fall in love with Nemesis & the Swan.
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