Anyone who reads my blog can tell there are a few things that I really enjoy reading, Fantasy, Mythology and Fairy Tales. Well there are others too, but basically give me one of the above three and I am one happy person. I especially enjoy when my fairy tales are written with the authors own spin on them. East by Edith Pattou is just that, a retelling of a Scandinavian folktale called “East of the Sun West of the Moon.” So, picture your at an end of year book swap looking for books for your child and you hear "this is something I know that you would like to read." After seeing the cover, I had to agree.
Synopsis from Goodreads, "Rose has always been different.
Since the day she was born, it was clear she had a special fate. Her superstitious mother keeps the unusual circumstances of Rose's birth a secret, hoping to prevent her adventurous daughter from leaving home... but she can't suppress Rose's true nature forever.
So when an enormous white bear shows up one cold autumn evening and asks teenage Rose to come away with it-- in exchange for health and prosperity for her ailing family-- she readily agrees.
Rose travels on the bear's broad back to a distant and empty castle, where she is nightly joined by a mysterious stranger. In discovering his identity, she loses her heart-- and finds her purpose-- and realizes her journey has only just begun."
Overall, East is a beautiful story. The beginning was a tad slower to read, the author needed this time to get into Rose's mysterious fate, which worked out O.k. for me, but I enjoyed the action more when White Bear finally comes into the story. Rose and White Bears story are told in the alternating voices of Father, Rose's brother Neddy, the Troll Queen, White Bear and Rose herself. I found this style worked for me for this particular story. It gave me a good sense of the various characters and enabled various takes on the situation. Having White Bear initially speak via poems was also a nice touch. One of the intriguing concepts in East is the use of compasses and maps. They played heavily once Rose went on her journey. Rose comes off as a strong, independent young woman eager to travel to new places and meet different people. Edith Pattou states that she decided to turn the winds in the original tale of "East of the Sun West of the Moon" into " people who represent the four different points of the compass." These people end up being guides for Rose, with each person representing the direction and characteristics of that direction. The other aspect of East that I appreciated was the amount of research that must have gone into the story. There are details about weaving, compasses, map making, historic landmarks from Norway, mythology, and the great white bear, to name a few. All which made for a wonderful story.