Title: Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow
Author: Jessica Day George
On the Shelves: Fiction> Fantasy/Retellings/Young Adult fiction
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 anisbjorn (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 servents. Only a grueling 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. (Goodreads 2014)
It is no secret that I adore the Norwegian Fairytale “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” (click for the Friday’s Fairytales segment detailing it). I’ve read two other retellings of this tale, and I promise you I will read as many as I can find. I don’t know what it is, I’m just drawn into this tale every single time. I love seeing the little differences between them and I love the story itself.
In George’s version, the story follows a young girl who is born without a name, because her mother sees her as a burden more than a child to be loved. She becomes known as “Pika” or “The Lass”. You see the opening chapters follow her family life and then eventually, as always, the bear comes to the house, and the curse unfolds.
I really enjoyed this version of the tale. I felt there was a lovely balance between detail and plot, but also the amount of little independent traits within the story were lovely. I enjoyed watching the lass try to understand and learn the language of the trolls, and trying to break the curse from day one just by reading it. I loved the invention of the Parkas, and the wolf sidekick Rollo. Pika is a memorable protagonist who you cheer for and grow to love. She is heartfelt, brave and just an all around well-written girl for this adventure, which is what this tale always boasts. I loved the idea of Hans Peter’s history (Hans Peter is her brother who disappeared for years on a ship to work and who came back very altered to who he had been before). This story does exactly what a retelling should do. It follows the traditional story and doesn’t alter the plot- but it stands strong enough by itself to fully immerse you into the world and to be a memorable adaptation of the tale. There is enough individuality within George’s version to set it apart from the crowd, much like Pattou’s East.
For anyone interested, I have also reviewed two other re-tellings of this tale: