East by Edith Pattou
2003. 400 pages (hardcover)
East fleshes out the fairy tale “East of the Sun, West of the Moon.” The novel is set in 16th century Norway. Rose’s family is about to be evicted from their farm when a white bear appears at their door to make a bargain. If Rose comes with him, the family will be restored to good health and fortune. The bear is of course a man under enchantment, a troll queen’s enchantment that Rose could be the key to breaking.
The story is told from multiple viewpoints: Rose, the bear, Rose’s closest brother, Neddy, Rose’s father and the troll queen. I liked that the author chose to include the voices of the family members left behind when Rose is taken with the white bear. Neddy and Rose’s father feel the passage of time, which underscores how Rose’s captivity with the polar bear in a castle seems outside of time. A little more than halfway through the book, the book turns into Rose’s epic quest to save her white bear from the troll queen.
There’s not much more to say, really: I liked the characters and the storytelling was engaging. East is a competent and solid novel, but it’s not a book that I will think about much after this.
8 responses to “East by Edith Pattou”
Isn’t it interesting how some books really grab you and others don’t? I find those are the hardest to review, but you’ve done a good job here.
Yes, it’s weird. I thought I would really like this book, but ended up feeling no strong emotion either way. I felt that the review was subsequently inadequate in some way so thanks for the positive comment!
16th century Norway sounds intriguing, but I’m sorry it didn’t grab you. The cover is lovely.
I enjoyed this one, but it is a YA novel that is better suited to the YA crowd. When I reviewed it, I noted that it was a novel for the younger end of YA readers. I did like the way Patou incorporated elements from more than one fairy tale in the story.
As I wasn’t very familiar with “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” I didn’t realize that there were other fairy tales incorporated. Do you remember what the others were?
The other fairy tales incorporated in “East” besides the original fairy tale was “Beauty and the Beast” as well as some Nordic and inuit fairy tale influences. This book is definitely one of my favorites, although it wasn’t that interesting the first time I read it because I didn’t understand it as much. It gets better with every reading. There are several other retellings of “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” that I really enjoyed:
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George
Ice by Sarah Beth Durst
Wow, I didn’t realize all of those other fairy tales were woven into Pattou’s story. I’ve heard of George’s version, but I’m not sure that I’d heard of the Durst book. Thanks for the comment!
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