Review: SWAN BOY by Nikki Sheehan

Posted by on May 2, 2016 | Leave a comment


Swan Boy Nikki Sheehan

When Johnny moves house and starts a new school he has to deal with a bully who can’t leave him alone. But help comes from an unexpected and surprising source and Johnny’s growing power soon puts him in a very special place.
A chance encounter with a swan sparks a series of events that result in Johnny playing the lead in a school ballet. His teacher wants him to live the role, and when feathers start sprouting on his chest, Johnny begins to understand his true potential. But will he be strong or brave enough to beat his bullies, take care of his brother, support his mother and find a place for himself among all the chaos that is prevailing in his life.


Swan Boy is Nikki Sheehan’s second MG novel. I loved her debut Who Framed Klaris Cliff? — a mystery about imaginary friends, which managed to be original, warm and edgy all at the same time — and so I jumped at the chance to read Swan Boy. (Thank you, Rock the Boat!) Swan Boy fulfilled all my ‘Nikki Sheehan novel’ expectations, and I think is going to get a lot of love when it officially releases this week.

Swan Boy follows thirteen-year-old Johnny as he starts a new school. Johnny has a lot to deal with — the recent death of his father, a new house, a troublesome little brother he often has to take care of — and doesn’t need to be bullied on top of everything else. At the same time, there’s something going on in his life that he can’t share with anyone; something set in motion by an encounter with a swan.

I love magic realism, and the fantasy elements in Swan Boy were some of my favourite scenes. Nikki Sheehan uses those scenes skilfully, illuminating Johnny’s response to the real-life issues he’s facing without distracting from them. The fantasy elements add a lightness and hope, and I finished Swan Boy feeling like I’d been entertained, but had also read something important.

Swan Boy is a story about the various faces of bullying, about the importance of trying to understand why people act the way they do, about being yourself. Highly recommended!

I interviewed Nikki Sheehan on the Author Allsorts blog to celebrate, you can read that here.



Leave a Reply