Book Review – The Paper Swan by Leylah Attar

by Maryse on August 8, 2015 · 25 comments

in My Book Reviews

The Paper Swan
Oh wow… you guys!!!! READ THIS NOW!! Absolute intensity from start to finish, but different kinds of “intensity” throughout. Chilling, thrilling, devastating, relievingly funny, passionate and tender, and yet, best of all, emotionally healing. For all involved. Even the reader. Especially the reader.

Yep. I absolutely love this author!!! Her unique, yet “real-feel” real-people romances, her polished writing, and her attention to scene-setting detail, hooked me from the very start!

Maryse: Okay… just an update (I’ve been gone readin’ my stories) tee hee!!! But so far? Paper Swans is OMG FREAKING AWESOME. The writing and the story YES!!!!! YES YES YES FOR ME!!!! And I’m WAY early in and was IN right from the first page, and at 14% I was reading happily and then OMG!!!! Jaw dropped. Good times. I LOVE READING!

Cheryl: Oh dear God, I started The Paper Swan and the first paragraph has me. Thanks Maryse!!

Click to watch my video reactions while reading “The Paper Swan”

My fondness for her was already cinched when I devoured her other book, 53 Letters For My Lover. I read it last year and it had tons of angsty forbidden romance all wrapped up in her stunning writing, so it was a given that I wanted to read this new standalone (especially after THAT intense blurb).

They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. They lie. For 21 days she held on. But on Day 22, she would have given anything for the sweet slumber of death. Because on Day 22, she realizes that her only way out means certain death for one of the two men she loves.

P.S. It’s not a love triangle, but OMG does that blurb ever make sense, now.

Julie: Ok Maryse! You talked me into it. I’m going to dive into Paper Swan. The blurb scares me but I hear it is best to go in blind!

I knew I’d been in for emotional depth (realizing that not all of my emotions would be happy or peaceful ones). Nevertheless, I was in for an amazing, fulfilling journey. A complete story, and boy did I get it. But it’s not all “daisies and sunshine”. This author can throw in some turmoil like no other, yet as bad as it gets, it’s never overwhelming to the reader. I think it’s her magical prose that keeps the reader grounded and secure, even when all hell is turning loose. And some were feeling the fear, big time (as was I…)

Julie: I’m at 21% of Paper Swan. I can’t stop reading it even though it is a bit out of my comfort zone. And, I keep trying to guess where it is going and I’m pretty sure everything idea I think up will be wrong!

MichelleS: I am reading Paper Swans now – I went in blind so this is definitely NOT what I was expecting….. and there are already things that can’t be undone or forgiven, so this better all work out, that’s all I’m sayin’

JenC: I agree, MichelleS – I’m reading The Paper Swan at the moment and it’s not what I was expecting at all but in a good way. Really enjoying it. And that cover is gorgeous!

Jean: Thinking I have to read The Paper Swan next because my girlfriend at work is freaking out about it and she usually doesn’t read a book before I do, so yeah, I’m kinda jealous of her jumping into it before me and her reaction….lol!

Stella:  I was going to start Paper Swans a few days ago. I read the first page and then stopped and didn’t go any further. I was thinking the same thing, that all of this better work itself out or I won’t be pleased. I didn’t continue because I was hoping to hear what other people’s thoughts were before I picked it up again.

Andrea: I just finished the sample and don’t know to buy or not. The hair cut thing is yikes!

Sarah: Do it…i loved it!

Maryse: *grins* Tee hee!!!! :P PICK. IT. BACK. UP!!!! LOL!!! You are all in for ALL SORTS of emotions…

Judie: I read this book this weekend (actually while doing other stuff) – I Loved It!! I am taking a chance and recommending it – it’s not for the weak of heart – but it was exactly what I needed right now.

Amy: Seriously ladies, if you are wavering on Paper Swan…STOP!! Just pick it up and start reading it. I’m going to be up until the early hours of the morning finishing this one. It’s. Just. That. Great.

You guys… keep reading! DO IT!! This book will take you through a wide gamut of emotions, situations, realizations and reveals and will have you gasping and sighing all the way through. You will feel ALL of it.

And I’m not the only one in love with this story. Just look at this enthusiasm. This just may be the best book of the year, or darn close to it, my friends. It’s reaching a reader-love of epic proportions!

Amy: The Paper Swan…*sigh* Finished it and loved it. LOVED it. It ended on a different tone from where it started, but for me it worked. I know I keep going on about her writing but something about it just makes it so easy to slip into the story, no adjusting or adapting to it necessary. Kind of like slipping into a warm bubble bath with a glass of wine. Weird analogy? Whatever…it’s the best I’ve got. ;)

Rebecca: Finished it last night- crazy good. Her words are just amazingly beautiful~ I have to read some things again to let them seep in fully~ so beautiful.

Val: I loved this book. I finished it a couple days ago and it’s still all I think about. Such beautiful words.

Maryse: I know… my very last thought was… wow… it’s like… she wrote a miracle of beautifulness. LOL!!!

Trisha: RIGHT!! :) I’m in awe of her.

Amanda: I read it yesterday. I couldn’t put it down. Great recommendation!!

Melania: I finished reading this book. OMG … this is the Best Book of 2015! Thanks again for recommending Leylah Attar. She is an amazing author. I came across her name from one of your FB feed & loving those 2 books.

Heather: Loved this book HARD!! Favorite read this year!

Sarah: Finished this last night and loved it. First book for me by this author…now going to download 53 letters!!!

So what’s it about? This is where I need to be exceptionally careful, because I don’t want to accidentally lead you into putting things together, that you shouldn’t. Or that you should, but nor pre-maturely. You know? There’s a journey to experience, a thought process to go through, and everything happens for a reason. Everything is revealed when it needs to be. So I’m going to be extremely vague. After all… you can’t get more intriguing yet vague with that blurb, so it’s not up to me to give away more.

Skye has been raised “wealthy” and is your typical, pretty, outgoing and successful socialite. She has everything going for her. Love and support, her life is almost… perfect. But her world completely changes, as she knows it, on her birthday. When she awakens and finds herself bound and gagged, bag over her head and the muzzle of a gun against her skull.

My life was set to be a series of standing ovations: graduation, wedding, a house worthy of being showcased in a slick magazine, two perfect kids. Yet here I was, on my knees, a sack over my head, the cold barrel of a gun against the base of my skull. And the worst part? Not knowing why this was happening, not knowing why I was going to die. Then again, since when did these things make sense?

And as she tries to figure out what is happening, tries to keep calm, and delay the inevitable…

It was just starting to sink in. This was happening. This was real. When you’ve led a charmed life, something kicks in to insulate you from the shock—a sense of entitlement, as if this too, would be looked after. Holding on to that gave me a sense of bravado, of flippancy. I was loved, valued, important. Surely, someone was going to swoop in and save the day. Right? Right?

…she asks for one thing. That he allow her to see the night sky, one last time.

And she begins to pray.

Suddenly, instead of being shot dead that night, she is taken, stuffed into a wooden crate, and taken on a small yacht. And the story begins. From abuse and terror, hate and resistance,

I was reduced to nothing but hunger and thirst and bodily functions. And I was totally dependent on him. ‘Please’ and ‘thank you’ come automatically when you are at someone’s mercy. Even if you hate their guts.

to moments of sweet relief, connecting with her captor…  from victim to friend and back again,

I got what he was doing—rewarding my good behavior with kindness, soothing the wounds he’d inflicted upon me. I was supposed to feel grateful, dependent, to bond with him over small mercies, but that whole Stockholm syndrome thing? Yeah, I really wasn’t feeling it. If I ever found where he’d stashed my spiked heels, I was going to nail his black heart to the mast of his f**king boat.

…living this terror with her affords the reader all sorts of introspection, and even funny, laugh-out-loud moments that have even us, connecting with the bad guy.

Maryse: LOL!! One of my fav parts… (so many – this book is highlighted like CRAZY) but I always love the “Stockholm Syndrome” part of the book-terror… when they start caring for each other. She makes HIM food…

“It was the most vile, putrid, goopy thing in the world. It tasted of bile and rotten tomatoes and Bart Simpson’s butt.

I spit it out, but Damian kept going, bite after foul, rancid bite, until it was all gone. When he was done, he leaned back, holding his tummy like he was trying to keep it all down.

“Wha—?” I stared at him. “Why did you finish it?”

“Because you made it,” he replied. “Don’t make it again.”

Tee hee!!! :P Who knows where this is going, but by the reactions, this is gonna be a 5-star for sure!

And oh boy, does the story keeps changing. Please don’t think it’s your usual “dark kidnap romance/psych thriller”, because it is SO MUCH MORE. There is a WHOLE story here. The mood, the setting, the motivation of it all, as our journey takes us from her childhood, and into her ever-changing present… the reveals are absolute gasp-worthy!

How deluded we become when we start believing that everything in the world is about us. How hard we work to make things fit into our made-up theories. How blindly we follow our worked-up emotions, the good, the bad and the ugly.

WOW. Just… wow. SO MUCH WOW!!!!

I loved it all. The introspection, the interaction, the dialogue, the connections, the life altering realizations, the struggles to get there, and the heartwarming feeling of fulfillment. This book is NOT to be missed. None of it is easy, but it is so worth every single moment. This book is just… everything.

You don’t always get the treasure by holding on. Sometimes the magic happens when you let go.


I love books that scare me, thrill me, excite me and enrich me, and this one did exactly that. It’s pretty much… perfect.

5 stars!

P.S. Thank you to the author for sending me a review copy! But at that price, I couldn’t help one-clicking myself a nice shiny version, anyway. LOL!

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne August 8, 2015 at 1:55 PM

Amazing review Maryse! I really need to read this book soon!

Maryse August 8, 2015 at 1:58 PM

Anne OMG YES!!! Read it!!! *happy dance*

I feel so good, right now, because of it. I love books that scare me, thrill me, excite and enrich me, and this one did exactly that.

Cindy August 8, 2015 at 2:00 PM

Sounds perfect!! Can’t wait to start it tonight!! …with a glass of red ;)

Maryse August 8, 2015 at 2:05 PM

Pinot Noir is my favorite… :D

Lise August 8, 2015 at 3:20 PM

Yesss… Love the review, love the way this author tells a story, love every feel in this book. 5 4 3 2 1… go read it, people ;-)

Cheryl August 8, 2015 at 3:39 PM

Great review Maryse! Beautifully written book.

Now I’m just floundering with what to read next…

Maryse August 8, 2015 at 5:15 PM

Me too… I’m going to sample “Dust” and see how that works out. The mention of a “Sweet Dreams” feel and that they’re all adults really appeals to me right now…

Cindy August 8, 2015 at 5:27 PM

Just finished King by TM Frazier and Never Let You Go by Katy Regnery… Both great reads. …it’s hard to find one to replace an amazing read isn’t it??

Jen C August 8, 2015 at 5:32 PM

Such a great review Maryse! I finished it last night and it’s a 5 star-er for me too. And definitely jumped into my faves list as well!

Maryse August 8, 2015 at 8:40 PM

Thank you SO much Jen!!!

Cindy – did you read this one yet?

Cindy August 8, 2015 at 8:45 PM

Lol … Started it a bit ago… I’m still going! Pausing only to fill my glass ;) it definitely starts out strong! I like :)

Maryse August 8, 2015 at 9:13 PM

LOL!! Yay! You’re gonna need that refill. ;)

Ela August 8, 2015 at 9:44 PM

Agreed! Great review and this is a MUST read! LOVED every page!!!

MichelleS August 8, 2015 at 9:55 PM

WOW! Okay. I just finished. First, totally agree…. 5 stars for sure! I don’t think I’ll ever forget this story. It was just so intense the WHOLE WAY THROUGH. And I didn’t think I could root for these two people because there were some….. things….. that he did early on… but then I did anyway. I think he was just so so so intense in every way (good and bad). WOWZA. Another great recommendation my friend!!! AWESOME-SAUCE!

Maryse August 8, 2015 at 10:05 PM


YAY!! My best-book-buds love it too.

*sigh* I’m so happy!!! :D

Amy August 8, 2015 at 11:19 PM

Oh, this book. *dreamy sigh* I’m so glad I went in not knowing what to expect. I wondered how you would pull off a review without giving anything away…*snort* I really shouldn’t have wondered that though. ;) Great review as always, my dear.

MichelleS August 8, 2015 at 11:35 PM

So I am NOT saying this is just like Paper Swans, but, it had a lot of similarities for me! Plausability, by Jettie Woodruff. I was picturing the SAME couple in my head, the same dad, the same house, the same locations…. it was kind of eerie actually. You know how some books just have the exact same characters and settings? creepy….. I also really like Plausability, BTW.

Sharon August 9, 2015 at 10:34 AM

OOOOOH! I know what I am reading next! thanks for loading up my Kindle Maryse! BTW, if you haven’t already, READ.GUS by Kim Holden. I think I love it more than Bright Side! I wouldn’t call Gus angsty, but it’s like we are there healing with Gus. Hope there is another book for Keller!

Jennifer August 9, 2015 at 1:08 PM

Thanks Maryse…I was on the fence with this one until your review. I’ve downloaded her other book based on your review but haven’t read yet. This is my next book. I was on a NA kick which is usually my least favorite genre but loving the Locker Room authors! Elle Kennedy, Sarine Bowen, Kristen Callihan. Thanks.

Jean August 9, 2015 at 2:28 PM

Read this book until 2:30 this morning….. Could not put it down! Loved it! Great review Maryse! Love the video reaction!

Maryse August 9, 2015 at 3:42 PM

:D Goofiness. But that book certainly was pure awesomeness.

Julie August 10, 2015 at 12:59 PM

I”m so glad I went into this book blind although I wasn’t sure about it for the first 20% – it was a bit out of my comfort zone and I wasn’t sure where it was going! It was such a different read from my usual but I enjoyed it and thought it was really good!

Allison August 10, 2015 at 5:45 PM

I’m at 75% and this book is just . . . . . I feel like my soul is breaking.

kelly August 11, 2015 at 8:30 AM

WOW ….. This was amazing, I read this in a day and half

emma August 11, 2015 at 3:14 PM

Maryse, OMG ……. I am reading and loving Hawthrone & Heathcliff . Can not put it down. What an emotional journey . LOVE IT.

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