*Mini-Post By The Bookworm*
Title: Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow
Author: Jessica Day George
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.
Bookworm Rating: A-
Target Audience: Young Adult
If you don’t know yet, I am a HUGE sucker for fairy tale retellings. One of my favorite fairy tales is an Old Norse tale called East of the Sun and West of the Moon.
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow is a retelling of this story.
Our main character, called Lass (because her mother didn’t want another daughter and refused to give her a name) lives in a poor town at the edge of her kingdom. Her mother is obsessed with ancient legends. In particular one that says that the third son of any family is destined for greatness. So she dotes on Lass’s older brother Askel, convinced he’ll bring her wealth. She also used to hold some hopes for her oldest son, Hans Peter, but he hasn’t been the same since he came home from an accident at sea that he refuses to speak about.
One day Lass frees the White Reindeer from a patch of brambles and in return it gives her the ability to speak to animals and a name. She soon earns a bit of a reputation with this gift that spreads through the kingdom. Then one day in the midst of a blizzard a huge white bear (or isbjorn) comes to her cottage. With her gift she is able to understand when he asks her if she will come live with him for a year and a day. In return he’ll give her brother Askel fame and her family the riches that her mother has always yearned for.
Lass agrees to appease her mother and sets off with the bear. He takes her to a huge palace made of ice, filled with magical servants. But things at this palace are rather odd, servants disappear forever if they talk to her too much, there are rooms full of nothing but looms or butter churns, and every night a strange man sleeps in the Lass’s bed. Determined to figure out what exactly is going on in the palace the Lass begins to question people and translate the strange carvings on the walls. This leads her to a huge secret and an even bigger adventure she never bargained for.
The writing style is paced very well. I feel that this is particularly important because the book does have several large time jumps and then has to cover several months of adventure without dragging. The book kept my interest the entire time and even though I am familiar with the original tale there were enough twists to keep me entertained and guessing.
The only problem I really had with this book is that sometimes the dialogue is a little stilted. It doesn’t happen all the time but occasionally the conversations can seem awkward and too formal for the situation.
The story in this book is very well thought out. The original fairytale is pretty short but George was able to flesh it out into a story with a well crafted mythology and an interesting plot line. The characters also all have unique and believable personalities. Not everyone is completely developed but they don’t need to be because they are minor characters in the story.
Final Thoughts: I really enjoyed this story and I recommend it to anyone who loves fairy tales or books with strong characters and motivations.