Start Date: 16 April 2011
End Date: 17 April 2011
Paperback, 516 pages
Published 1 May 2005
Summary (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.
This is the best retelling of East of the Sun, West of the Moon that I've read so far. I really like the tale in general, and all the retellings I've read so far are great (see my review of Jessica Day George's Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow here), but this one is my favorite. There are a bunch of things I really liked about it:
First is the different points of view. Pattou executes this admirably, using the format to its utmost advantage. It gave every character some humanity and kept them from becoming the bland, basic archetypes so easy to fall into with a fairy tale retelling. The troll queen was more than just a villain - she was just thoughtless and didn't know the extent of the harm she was causing. Everyone in the story was really trying to do the right thing; no one was evil just for the heck of it. Even Rose's mother, who kind of makes a mess of things, was just trying to protect her daughter. Also, every character had a unique voice which made it easy to tell who's point of view you're reading from (unlike some other books I've read... *ahem* The Lost Hero). The Bear's chapters were in a poetic stream-of-consciousness type style, which I didn't like if I looked at it as poetry, and did like if I looked at it as a stream of consciousness from an animal trying to retain its humanity. However, I did like Neddy (her brother)'s little poems. They made me smile.
I wanted the keep the list thing all organized, but this review didn't work when I tried to do that, so I'm just going to mention a bunch of things I liked:
- How Pattou changed some things about the fairy tale for it to be a better story and so it would make more sense, but she kept the essence and the feel of a fairy tale.
- The aspect of Rose learning the troll langauge with Tuki (possibly because I like languages, but I also thought those scenes were very sweet).
- How the family doesn't just disappear when Rose leaves with the White Bear.
- Really great characterization. I like all the characters - I think that probably what stands out the most about this particular retelling, but the story is really great too. (I could go through all the different characters and talk about what I liked about them, but I think it would be better to discover them by reading the book.)
- And all the little details that give life and make what would be unrealistic and something you just have to accept into a magical world easy to immerse yourself in.
On another note, sorry it took so long for me to get this review posted. It's been sitting half-finished on my computer for a while, but I've been crazy busy and haven't been able to take general ideas of what I wanted to mention into cohesive thoughts with actual words. But then, I'm always busy and I'm nuts enough to add blogging to my overpacked schedule, so it's not much of an excuse. I'm not even going to bother promising to get more reviews out in the future, because I've already done that too many times.
By the way, Happy Mother's Day!