Author: Edith Pattou
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Fairy Tales, Retelling, Fiction, Romance
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
No. of pages: Paperback, 507
Publication Date: May 1, 2005 (Originally published September 1, 2003)
Date Read: October 20, 2018
Rose has always been different.
Since the day she was born, it was clear she has a special fate. Her superstitious mother keeps the unusual circumstances of Rose’s birth a secret, hoping to prevent her adventurous daughter from leaving home … but she can’t suppress Rose’s true nature forever.
So when an enormous white bear shows up one cold autumn evening and asks teenage Rose to come away with it — in exchange for health and prosperity for her ailing family — she readily agrees.
Rose travels on the bear’s broad back to a distant and empty castle, where she is nightly joined by a mysterious stranger. In discovering his identity, she loses her heart — and finds her purpose — and realizes her journey has only just begun.
I honestly think I’ve seen this book before and chose to not pick it up. I was stupid. This book was amazing. I’m so thankful for Rockstar Book Tours for having me on the upcoming West tour and HMH Books for Young Readers for sending me a copy of both East and West. I’ve completely fallen in love with this story and these characters.
East is a retelling of the Norwegian fairy tale, “East of the Sun and West of the Moon.” This retelling follows Rose, a girl born to replace her sister born of the East and instead is born of the North. As she grows, she sees a White Bear and decides that he will be her imaginary animal. When she’s older, the White Bear comes to have her go with him and in exchange, her sister will get well and her family will become rich. As she goes with the White Bear, she sees qualities in him that are almost human. After a visit home, Rose’s mother begs her to use a candle that she bought her to see who it is that shares her bed each night. One night, her curiosity gets the better of her and Rose uses the candle. The man that shared her bed was the White Bear who had been cursed by the Troll Queen’s father to be a bear during the day and a man at night. The man/White Bear is then whisked away to marry the Troll Queen and Rose attempts to follow in order to save the man that she doomed. And the man that she has fallen in love with.
I didn’t realize that it was a retelling until after I finished, but all throughout reading, I loved this nice take on it. This story was so well planned and so detailed that it brought such a vivid picture of Rose’s journey to life. I loved seeing the different views from Rose, Neddy, the White Bear, and the Troll Queen as the story fell together. I loved getting to see the culture and mythologies that came from Norway and going deeper into the lore.
My favorite thing about this book was probably the way that Rose really comes into her own. In the story, her mother tried to hide her from who she really was until it was no longer an option to do so. With the way that her mother did that, she forced Rose to try and fit into a mold that wasn’t made for her. Once she’s started on her journey with the White Bear and then after in trying to find the White Bear, we really see her personality and character grow in a way that had been stifled previously.
This book was such a great read. The lore and fairy tales that abound really are brought to the forefront and does a great job in bringing a new perspective to the classic. I’m so glad that I had a chance to read this book. If you liked other retellings like Beastly or the Lunar Chronicles, you’re sure to like this as well.
I’ll be posting my review of the sequel, West, on the 24th as part of the blog tour with Rockstar Book Tours. West releases Oct. 23, 2018.