Project Fairy Tale: Ice by Sarah Beth Durst

Alison from The Cheap Reader has created a fun project for fans of Fairy Tales, appropriately called Project: Fairy Tale.  Basically, a blogger can choose a fairytale (only one fairytale per blogger), and read the original story.  Then the blogger will read at least three retellings of that fairytale.  All of the posts will be up in February.  So much fun, right?  Be sure to check out Alison’s master post!

Here’s my review of the original fairytale and my review of East by Edith Pattou.


Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Age Group: Teen
Source: Library
Book Depository
Rating: 1.75 out of 5 stars

Summary from GoodReads:

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.

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.

My Thoughts

Okay guys, I really didn’t like this book.  I guess it isn’t bad, so some people might love it.  But there were so many things I didn’t like about Ice.  The writing wasn’t wonderful, filled with lots of choppy sentences that didn’t flow well.  The characters were decently developed, but there was definitely something missing.  But the worst part was the insane plot.  I mean, really.  This book frustrated me so much, so I definitely will be talking about spoilers (I have to vent about the craziness!) but I will warn you before hand.

First off, the main character, Cassie -well I just didn’t like her. I thought she was really annoying.  Immediately we see how stubborn she is.  Okay, being a bit stubborn myself, I can appreciate stubbornness in a main character as much as the next person.  But she was dumb-stubborn.  Inconsiderate-stubborn.  Cassie does things repeatedly without any thought to how her father might feel.  She does what she wants to, and forget about anyone else.  Even when she decides to be the Polar Bear King’s bride so he will save her mother, it still feels more about what she wants, and less to do with her mother’s safety.

Oh, and then when she agrees to go off with Bear, she is immediately planning on going back on her word.  Okay, and I get that running off with a talking bear is a bit scary, but come on.  Don’t make deals if you don’t plan on following through with your part of the deal.

Then some of the characterization isn’t good.  For example, she alls, that can’t happen because it’s impossible.  She thinks that while she is riding on the back of a TALKING POLAR BEAR.  I mean, hello!  You have been talking to a polar bear.  Obviously the impossible can happen, and you are in the know now.  So stop being dumb.  Ugh!

And, oh my gosh, enough with the grinning!  I can’t tell you how many times I read the phrase “Cassie grinned.”  I mean, either Cassie is grinning like mad, or she is being totally obnoxious.

Okay, now I have to talk a little bit about some SPOILERS, because I need to vent about them.

Okay, so Cassie marries Bear.  And eventually they fall in love with each other.  Okay, all that is fine.  So, while Cassie is at the Station with her family for a little visit after she marries Bear, she decides to go back to Bear.  All that is fine.  And she decides she’s going to sleep with him.  Okay, great.  But how convenient is it that the Station had an intern that just happened to leave an indeterminate amount of birth control pills there, for Cassie to use?  What?  Isn’t that convenient?  I mean, what intern would do that?  And Cassie just happens to be at the right point in her cycle to start taking them.  Puh-Lease!

But whatever.  So Cassie goes back with Bear and is all like: You know there is one things we’ve never done.  Bear’s all, are you sure.  She’s like yeah, and they have sex.  That’s the end of the chapter.  The next chapter Cassie is throwing up in the ice toilet (they live in a palace made of ice) three months later.  Yeah . . .  you can guess what that means.  She’s preggers!  She’s all Bear can’t you do something to make me feel better (because she doesn’t realize she is pregnant), and he’s all, I think things are progressing normally.  Cassie’s all huh? (because even though she is a healthy 18 year old (from modern-day, btw), she apparently takes no notice that she is three months late on her period!)  Bear’s like your pregnant, this is great!  Cassie, all panicky, is like no I can’t be pregnant, I’m on the pill.  Bear: oh do you mean that hormone imbalance – yeah I fixed that.

I am not ever kidding!  He got her pregnant, and she didn’t know it.  I mean, what?  Don’t you think the nice, normal, respectable thing to do was for Bear to first talk to Cassie about her hormone imbalance before he “corrected” it.  I mean, gosh, that was just ridiculous!

Cassie doesn’t want to be a mother at 18, and Bear is all, but it is wonderful.  Then, of course, we get to the story where bear must go to the troll castle, and we spend the next 5 months with Cassie learning to love her unborn baby.

Okay, and here’s the thing.  People say that Breaking Dawn is such an pro-life book, but, honestly, I never felt that way.  It was Bella’s decision to keep the crazy vampire-human hybrid baby.  She wasn’t being pressured, and she certainly never made any comments about how all women should do what she is doing.  It was completely her choice.

But Cassie gets pregnant (even though she is taking precautions!) and then everyone she meets after she learns of her pregnancy is all “no you can’t do that.  You have to think of the baby.”  I mean, I can’t even tell you how uncomfortable I was reading that.  From the point she gets pregnant to the end of the book.  So uncomfortable.

I mean, Cassie is practically a prisoner in Father Forest’s house for five months, because he won’t let her leave because he wants to make sure the baby is okay!  That part (at Father Forest’s) was so weird, and really, it was only there so it could pass the time for Cassie’s pregnancy to progress.  She needed to be nine-months pregnant when she finally reaches the troll castle.

One other thing for the spoilers part.  There are some gross things in this book.  Cassie suckles from a mama polar bear teet, and she swallows her vomit when she is stranded on the ice.  She pees on herself when she is a prisoner at Father Forest’s place.  Seriously gross.  Yech!

End Spoilers.

Another ridiculous (if small thing) about Ice: at the start of every chapter there are these completely useless latitude and longitude coordinates.  They are so pointless because they mean nothing to me.  There is no map, so I have no idea what all the coordinates mean.  I have a good understanding of geography, but reading numeral coordinates – yeah, now idea where that is supposed to be.  I just ended up paying no attention to them whatsoever.  Silly.

I don’t think I am adequately explaining how much this book frustrated me.  It was very loosely based on the original fairytale (East of the Sun, West of the Moon), not that that is bad.  I don’t care it is a faithful retelling, but I do care if the story is good.  I care if the characters are well-developed, and I care if the characters are likable.  Unfortunately, this book was seriously lacking on all fronts.  I know there are better retellings of this fairytale.

About Quinn

I'm a twenty-something children's librarian at a public library in Central New York. I've long left my teen years behind me, but I love to read YA and children's books. I have two adorable dogs. Ginger is a mix between a poodle and havanese, and Daphne is Bichon Frise. Other things I love: Favorite Movie: Singing in the Rain Favorite Book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen Favorite TV Show: Monk
This entry was posted in 1 Star Reviews, Reviews and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Project Fairy Tale: Ice by Sarah Beth Durst

  1. The idea of the coordinates is fun, so if she added a map, it would have been awesome 🙂 I can see that it’s now something that didn’t add anything to the story.

    I like stubborn characters, but they must not act stupid. I think Cassie and I won’t become friends if I read this book. I skipped the spoilers, because I’m still planning to pick this one up, but I will keep this in mind. Thanks for the honesty 🙂


  2. Pingback: Project: Fairy Tale Master Post | The Cheap Reader

  3. It has a nice cover but sad to hear it was such a failure as a retelling!

  4. Merin says:

    Ugh, this one definitely sounds terrible. Your spoilers made me seriously eyeroll; I don’t think I’ll be picking this one up!

    • Quinn says:

      Seriously, this book was just crazy. Major eyerolling on my part, too. I really did not care for it. There are better retellings of East of the Sun, West of the Moon out thete.

  5. I’m sorry you had such a bad experience with this book, Quinn! I’ve had a few disappointments myself with relation to Project: Fairy Tale. Have you read Sarah Beth Durst’s Vessel that was published last year? I thought it was phenomenal and it was one of my top ten books of the year. Maybe don’t give up on the author and try that out? I was planning on reading Ice myself at some point, but maybe I’ll look into Durst’s other works right now instead.

    • Quinn says:

      I always feel bad when someone says they were planning on reading a book, but then change their mind after I don’t like it. I mean, I really did not like Ice, but you should try it out for yourself. Maybe you will love it.

      I have heard great things about some of Durst’s other novels, particularly Vessel, so I will not give up on the author, like you said. I’ve also heard, from Alison (The Cheap Reader), that Into the Wild by Durst is good.

  6. Candice says:

    Okay, I kind of giggled at the spoilers. I mean, she has sex with a bear? Or does he change into a man and then back into a bear? And if he’s a bear is she pregnant with a bear human hybrid? Is she going to give birth to some kind of thing that could eat her?

    I like that you pointed out the pro-life idea in Breaking Dawn. I haven’t heard that one, but never once even thought “oh, they’re pushing the idea of pro-life.” I’m not sure how I’d feel about being able to pick up on that in a book! Of course, I really don’t like YA books where the character gets pregnant, unless it’s part of the main plot. Anyway… sorry this one wasn’t so great! Hopefully you can get a chance to read some of her other books like others above have mentioned!

    • Quinn says:

      LOL. I should I mentioned this in the spoiler part. Bear is a Munaqsri (basically he gives souls to new born polar bears when they are born, and if he doesn’t the baby bears are still born). Bear can change form, so at night, he does change into a man. It’s not like in the fairytale (East of the Sun, West of the Moon) where a man in changed into a bear by an enchantment.

      I think the baby they have looks like a person, but Durst didn’t really go into detail about what the baby looked like. But the baby gets to decide to if she wants to be a munaqsri when she grows up, and then she will (I think) take on the form of that animal. This book was way weird and just not my thing.

  7. HOLY SHIT. This cannot be a real book. Just no. Bestiality plus pro life plus a girl who doesn’t know anything about pregnancy at eighteen? YUCK. I would not touch this with a ten foot pole. All the way through the spoiler section, my eyes just kept getting wider. This sounds like the worst book ever. Wow. How does this appeal to ANYONE? *shakes head*

  8. B says:

    I just wanted to say what an awesome idea! It’s a fun twist on a reading meme for sure! I might have to check it out. Happy reading!

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