Tuesday, March 23, 2010

East Meets West

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow

Written by: Jessica Day George

Released: 2008 by Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Summary: Blessed--or cursed--with an ability to understand animals, the Lass (as she’s known to her family) has always been an oddball. And when an "isbjorn" (polar bear) seeks her out, and promises that her family will become rich if only the Lass will accompany him to his castle, she doesn’t hesitate. But the bear is not what he seems, nor is his castle, which is made of ice and inhabited by a silent staff of servants. Only a gruelling journey on the backs of the four winds will reveal the truth: the bear is really a prince who’s been enchanted by a troll queen, and the Lass must come up with a way to free him before he’s forced to marry a troll princess.

This novel was one of the sweetest retellings of the Nordic fairy tale East of the Sun and West of the Moon that I have read in a while. I love fairy tales and any modernization, re-telling, or new interpretation of then and I really enjoyed reading this story.

The characters were endearing and I enjoyed how other mythical beings like fauns, selkies and gargoyles were incorporated into the story to give it a little more fantasy. Knowing how things were going to play out – this is one of my favourite fairy tales – didn’t take away from anything that I read since there were a few other elements than the regular original fairy tale (just like all retellings should be like). I also enjoyed the insight into “the Lass’” life; how it added to the story and the ways that it also was incorporated into what was going on.

I’m really not sure what else I can say about this novel. I mean, it wasn’t something that you’re going to always be thinking about because it changed your life, but it’s something that you’ll re-read after the details start to fail or just because you enjoyed it so much the first, third, or twenty-third time reading it.

It’s a beautiful rendition of an old fable and it flows so smoothly that you’re not left wondering what the heck just happened – except almost at the end of the book when she’s riding the horses… She starts off with three and suddenly there’s only one left with no acknowledgement that she had sent the other two back home. But that’s the only thing.

I give this novel a 7/10 for it’s charming take on the original and I can’t wait to read it again at a later date.

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