Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow
Jessica Day George
The lass has grown up without a name, in a world of constant winter. But when a mysterious white bear shows up on the doorstep, the lass' special gift of speaking to animals offers her an opportunity to help her family. So she agrees to travel with the bear back to his strange castle and remain with him there for a year in exchange for her family's wealth. However, neither the bear, his bizarre servants, nor the lass herself are what they seem.
Now, I've got to put it out there that I am a sucker for a fairy or folk tale retell. So, with my bias out in the open, I can say that I genuinely enjoyed this particular retelling of the Norse story, 'East of the Sun, West of the Moon.' Despite remaining nameless for nearly the entire novel, the main character is admirable and sympathetic. Within the first few chapters, the reader is able to gain a good picture of her family and her background as well as her individual personality; so when she goes on her strange journey, the audience is happy to follow her.
The plot has pretty steady action and the mystery is revealed slowly, keeping the reader hooked until the final chapters. The romance is sweet and generally satisfying. The story feels a little unoriginal at times and the conclusion was somewhat rushed but overall, this novel is fresh pick for lovers of fairy and folk tale retellings and romantic fantasy. I read Edith Pattou's version of the same tale, East, a few years ago and think that I might prefer it. However, Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow might work better for a younger teen audience. It could match well with novels by Gail Carson Levine, Robin McKinley, or Donna Jo Napoli.