Monday, June 27, 2011

East - Edith Pattou

This is a great example of titles and cover art being important. This is a retelling of one of my favorite fairy tales, "East of the Sun, and West of the Moon", which is totally clear from the cover. It jumped out at me as I walked past it in the library and I'm really glad it did!

This is a wonderfully told story, totally satisfying and incorporates the original story beautifully with lots of extra details. My favorite bit is the superstition about birth direction (the direction in which your mother is facing when you are born) affecting personality, and how seriously (or not) various characters take it. Now that I'm thinking about it, Elli is an East - which works nicely, because her name begins with E, as it should.

Rose is the main character of this story, and she is one of the narrators. The other two main narrators are her father and her brother Neddy who she is very close to. There are also a few chapters narrated by either the Troll Queen or the White Bear. In the first case it gives you a nice glimpse into the workings of troll society, and let you understand why the White Bear was enchanted in the first place - which just wouldn't make sense without the Troll Queen's narration. The White Bear's chapters are also fascinating because they really emphasize that his thoughts are not entirely human thoughts - he really is a white bear.

My favorite bit here was the ending. Rose and the White Bear are in love with one another, she has just completed a dangerous quest to rescue him, and yet they don't just rush into one another's arms. Their relationship needs to be redefined now that he is human again. I also love that while her quest to find the White Bear is extraordinary, rescuing him is not just as simple as finding him.

This is a great fairy tale, and also a great retelling of it. And thanks to LibraryThing I've now got a couple more retellings of it on hold!

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