Author: Jessica Day George
Published: January 8th 2008 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Fairy Tale Retellings, Romance
Blurb: 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. 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.
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow is based upon a Norwegian folk tale, East of the Sun, West of the Moon. What grabbed me about this story was its strong sense of place. Rather than relocating the action or only using some of the plot elements to tell her story, Jessica Day George delivers a faithful retelling of the original fairy tale. The characters feel authentic to the period in which the novel is set and the mixture of thoughtful descriptions and integration of Norwegian folk lore also reinforce this very striking setting.
The story’s main character, who does not have a name for most of the novel, is highly appealing. Though she is treated poorly by her family, particularly her mother who is so disappointed that she is a girl that she never bothers to name her, she is willing to sacrifice herself to help them when the bear offers his bargain. In addition to her selflessness, she is also shown to be both tough and brave, especially once she begins her epic quest. It is those qualities that really made me care about her and hope that she found a happy ending.
I also thought some of the supporting characters were very interesting, particularly her brother Hans Peter. I liked the way their relationship was depicted and I thought the book does a good job of creating a sense of mystery about why he changes so much after his voyage.
The only element that didn’t entirely work for me was the romance between the Lass and her bear prince. It feels a little rushed as we do not get to see them spend much time together before the prince is whisked away to be with the troll princess. Still, I liked them as a pairing and I was happy with the conclusion.