Monday, March 16, 2015

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George, 2008

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When a great white bear promises untold riches to her family, the Lass (as she's known) agrees to go away with him. But the bear is not what he seems, nor is his castle. To unravel the mystery, the Lass sets out on a windswept journey beyond the edge of the world. Based on the Nordic legend East of the Sun, West of the Moon, with romantic echoes of Beauty and the Beast, this re-imagined story will leave fans of fantasy and fairytale enchanted.
(352 pages)

I won a giveaway over at Bookshop Talk for two books of my choice. How awesome is that, right? I know how awesome: very! I had read Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow many years before and loved it, so I knew this was the perfect time to re-read it and add the gorgeous book (seriously, look at that cover!) to my collection.

Jessica Day George is one of my favorite authors. I have read all of her books, and never met one I didn't like! She's a master at fairytale retellings and knows how to create some serious ambiance. Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow differs from her amazing Princess books in that it isn't so much a complete retelling of the original tale as it is an imaginative fleshing out. What kind of family would give up their daughter to a talking bear? Why would a troll princess be so determined to marry a human prince? And why would she be so enchanted by the heroine's skills with a carding comb that she would let her into the palace? George fills in the answers to these questions and more in a way that creates a rich story that still reads like a fairytale - but a fairytale with far more detail and logic than any original version of "East o' the Sun, West o' the Moon" has to offer.

This isn't really a book that can be analyzed too much. It's a fleshed-out fairytale, not a regular story where realistic characters and plausible motives are required. The beauty of this book, though, is that it stays perfectly true to its magical foundations while at the same time managing to feature a lovable and realistic heroine, and logical reasons for everything that happens (logical in a world containing magic and trolls, anyway). The book's fantastical beginning may leave you with a lot of questions, but I guarantee that by the end everything will be explained.

The only (very slight) quibble I have is with the lass's wolf Rollo. He behaves much too much like a regular human for my taste. However, I know that George can write a realistic canine character (just look Pippin in the Dragon trilogy!), so I realize this must have been a conscious choice. It fits in well with the fairytale tone of the story. If the lass can speak to animals, then why shouldn't her best friend be a wolf?

All in all, this is just such a beautiful book - starting with the gorgeous cover, and lasting all the way through to the end! I love how everything is explained away with at least fairly logical reasoning, but the magical feel of the story is never lost. George expanded the tale, instead of cutting it up and pasting it back together, and I really love the result. The old adage "if it's not broken, don't fix it" comes to mind. The story "East o' the Sun, West o' the Moon" was not broken, and it didn't need fixing. What it needed was for someone to color in the lines and fill it out. This is what George did, and she did a fantastic job!


  1. I love Jessica Day George, but I've never picked this one up! Hopefully I will be able to now though :) great review.

    1. It's a bit different from her other fairytale retellings - it's got more of a classic feel to it. I'm a huge fan of every Jessica Day George book, this one included. :) What's your favorite Jessica Day George book?


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