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!
Summary from GoodReads:
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 anisbjorn (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 servents. 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.
When I signed up for Alison’s Project: Fairy Tale, I knew I wanted to participate with the fairy tale East of the Sun, West of the Moon because I read Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow a few years ago, and L-O-V-E-D it! And I wanted to read the other retellings based on that fairytale because I loved this book so much. Well, if you’ve been following my Project: Fairy Tale posts you know that I was a bit disappointed in East by Edith Pattou, and totally freaked out (not in a good way) by Ice by Sarah Beth Durst. So I was a little nervous when it came time to re-read Sun and Moon. Would I still like it as much as I did when I first read it? And that answer is a resounding YES!
This is the first JDG book I ever read, and even though I’ve read so many of her other ones now, this is still my favorite. One thing I look for in a good fairytale retelling is that feeling that you are reading something magical. I don’t mean that I am looking for magical elements, but I want a certain feeling that I am reading that makes me feel like this book is sort of otherworldly. I didn’t get that with East or Ice. But I definitely got that with Sun and Moon. Here’s a few sentences that makes this book feel so fairytale-esque to me:
“Long ago and far away in the land of ice and snow, there came a time when it seemed that winter would never end. The months when summer should have given the land respite where cold and damp, and the winter months were snow filled and colder still. The people said the cold had lasted a hundred years, and feared it would last a hundred more. It was not a natural winter, and no one knew what witch or troll had caused the winds to howl so fiercely.”
Seriously, isn’t that the best paragraph ever. It’s such a wonderful way to start a fairytale retelling. It gives the reader “that feeling” I was talking about. Another thing I love about Sun and Moon is how it’s explained that the main character is never given a name. She is just called The Lass, or sometimes Pika (which means “girl”), because her mother was so disappointed to have another daughter. So Mommy Dearest just didn’t name her. This also contributes that that feeling I love in fairytale retellings.
Anyway, besides the fairytale feeling, this book has so much to offer. I love The Lass. She is such a nice girl, even though she was never given much love from her mother. The Lass’s love for animals, and her ability to understand them makes the story so much more magical. I also love that she is determined to go find her isbjorn, even when so many people tell her she shouldn’t.
I love how JDG tied The Lass’s eldest brother, Hans Peter, into the story. It made it so much more interesting, and helped explain The Lass’s determination to solve the mystery at the Ice Castle, and why Hans Peter has been so broken since he returned home ten years before.
One other thing I really liked is that The Lass’s journey to the castle that is East of the Sun and West of Moon wasn’t way too long. In East, I got so bored because the journey was 100 pages!! 100 pages of her struggle. And don’t even get me started on Cassie’s journey from Ice! Some people may like that, but it isn’t my cup of tea. I mean, it was tough for The Lass, but I didn’t have to read about each one of her struggles!
The only thing I wish was improved in Sun and Moon, was the somewhat abrupt ending. It was definitely a satisfying ending, but it happened so quickly. I would have liked a little few more pages to really develop the ending. I wanted to know a bit more about the isbjorn and The Lass’s life after the end of the book. But this is really a small thing. I absolutely LOVED Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow. I think it is the best retelling of the East of the Sun, West of the Moon fairytale.