Cassie lives with her father and his research team in the arctic. They study polar bears and it is because of this that Cassie encounters the big-poppa of all polar bears. A huge specimen that she chases for an entire day over the ice until he mysteriously disappears into an ice cliff. Embarrassed at losing the chase and knowing she’s coming home to a whopper of a lecture, Cassie is rather surprised when her father instead freaks out and says she has to leave the research station to go live with her grandmother.
And so begins a rather original retelling of the East of the Sun, West of the Moon fairy tale. What I found particularly unusual was the integration of science into a fairy tale setting. Cassie has GPS, gore-tex, and other advanced technologies that she isn’t afraid to use to her advantage. Durst also incorporates aspects of Inuit spirituality. Not to mention other neat details that are probably sort of spoilerish so I won’t mention them. Although I will say that she added a cool adventure/survival aspect to the story. Cassie’s journey to the troll castle was filled with interesting characters and dangerous events.
There were a few things I would have liked fleshed out more. I would have liked more development between Cassie and her estranged mother. I would have liked to have known why it was important that her mother wore impractical clothing and wore makeup (or if it was simply to highlight the personality differences between the two of them which it may have been).
I also had a few LOST moments (as in moments when I was reminded of the TV show Lost) and thought that like the TV show, open communication would have prevented many a problem before they started. Yes, I realize that it is played up for drama and suspense – but had Cassie and Bear had a talk about reproduction, many problems, many many many problems, could have been averted. I fully understood Cassie’s anger, but I also sympathized with Bear, who as a presumably ancient magical creature, probably didn’t have a good working concept of the pill. He probably really thought he was magically solving her hormonal “issues” for the good of their family. The lesson learned? Communication is important. Especially with magical creatures (or on unusual islands).
***end of possible spoiler***
Re-told fairy tales are an interesting undertaking, simply because readers are often so familiar to the story. Durst does a nice job making this story fresh and new. Her take on the trolls was particularly inventive and just darned cool. And that cover! Beautiful.
Book Source: Tayshas Review Copy
Disclosure: Ms. Durst follows this blog (Hello there!)