Pages: 320, paperback
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's
Date Released: October 29th, 2009
Genre: YA / romance / fantasy / adventure / fairy-tale retelling
When Cassie was a little girl, her grandmother told her a fairy tale about her mother, who made a deal with the Polar Bear King and was swept away to the ends of the earth. Now that Cassie is older, she knows the story was a nice way of saying her mother had died. Cassie lives with her father at an Arctic research station, is determined to become a scientist, and has no time for make-believe.Buy it now from The Book Depository
Then, on her eighteenth birthday, Cassie comes face-to-face with a polar bear who speaks to her. He tells her that her mother is alive, imprisoned at the ends of the earth. And he can bring her back — if Cassie will agree to be his bride.
That is the beginning of Cassie's own real-life fairy tale, one that sends her on an unbelievable journey across the brutal Arctic, through the Canadian boreal forest, and on the back of the North Wind to the land east of the sun and west of the moon. Before it is over, the world she knows will be swept away, and everything she holds dear will be taken from her — until she discovers the true meaning of love and family in the magical realm of Ice. (Taken from Goodreads)
I don't think I can properly express just how much I loved this book. I've been itching to read it for like, months, and I was so excited when I finally got my hands on it.
It tells the story of Cassie, who after finding out that the fairytale that her grandmother told her when she was a child is true, and is forced to be the wife of the Polar Bear King in order to rescue her mother from trolls. It's basically the retelling of East of the Sun, West of the Moon. It's one of my favourite fairytales of all time, because it's just so magical, with a hint of Beauty and the Beast.
From the very beginning, I was hooked. The prologue gave such amazing back story and insight in just three pages, and made me fall in love with the story. The plot is incredibly addictive, I just couldn't stop reading it. There was so much adventure in it, as Cassie travels across the icy plains of the Arctic, dives into an ocean, travels through forests and bogs, and finally, to the land east of the sun and west of the moon. Her incredibly journey though the forests and bogs, enduring pain and near-death encounters, was a delightful change of pace from the typical 'guy rescues the helpless damsel in distress' stories. It was refreshing and insightful. And throughout her journey, Cassie showed a great change in character, the development all characters should go through.
I was slightly annoyed at the longitude, latitude and altitude markings at the beginning of each chapter, as I don't know how to decipher those things, and it felt as if I were missing out on something. It got quite annoying as the story progressed.
Another issue I had with the story was when Cassie was with Father Forest, so many things happened to her that should have killed the baby growing inside her, even though Father Forest, and everyone else was trying to prevent any harm from happening to the baby. Cassie was wrapped in a tight cocoon of vines that almost broke most of her bones, and forced to stay like that until she was starving and had wet herself, and she was forced into back-breaking labour, such as cleaning and using incredibly hardcore cleaning products (though, the fumes from such cleaning products can be harmful; pregnant women are advised to steer clear of using such things for most of their pregnancy, especially the last 2 trimesters). The baby should have either died or been born with serious defects from everything that it had gone through.
At odd times, it seemed as if the characters were too modern at times, especially the ones that are originally a few hundred years old, like Bear, Father Forest and the North Wind. But despite that little flaw, they were all extremely awesome and I loved each of them, they all had depth, were understandable and were a delight to follow, even the minor characters.
The ending seemed a bit abrupt and too fast-paced, as if Durst was trying to wrap things up as quickly as possible, in as few words as she possibly could, but still, it worked in some way, retaining some logic and epicness.
Overall, a pretty epic book, one of my favourite YA's/retellings.
Cover Art: 3
Level of Interest: 5
Total: 5/5 stars