East of the Sun & West of the Moon (Part 3)

By Sarah Beth Durst

Welcome to part 3! Parts 1 and 2 are here and here, respectively.

The main protagonist is Cassie, who has been basically raised in the research station, where her father tags and researches polar bears. On her birthday, Cassie is paid a visit by a polar bear, and told that she was promised to him as a bride. Spirited away, she tries to make a new life as the bride of a bear.

This book contains a lot of new elements, as one must to flesh a children’s book to a full-sized novel. Bear is not a cursed prince but a magical being in his own right. The trolls have been changed; they are now a race of gelatinous, ever-changing, ethereal beings who want to live but do not know how.

The book started off strong, but ended with a whimper, leaving me disappointed. Read for the good ideas, but be warned it will likely leave you scratching your head.

Suggested Ages: 9-12

Durst, S. B. (2009). Ice. Margaret K. McElderry Books

*****

Part 3 is our first novelization. The title proper is Ice, by Sarah Beth Durst. Not only is the story expanded for an older audience (10-13+), but it is moved from medieval times to the present; more specifically, at a research station in the Arctic.

The main protagonist is Cassie, who has been basically raised in the research station, where her father tags and researches polar bears. On her birthday, Cassie is paid a visit by a polar bear, and told that she was promised to him as a bride. Cassie agrees, providing that the bear (creatively referred to as Bear) return her mother, who has been missing since Cassie was young. Promise fulfilled, she is taken by Bear to his home, an ice palace at the north pole, where he reveals that he is a spirit-keeper for all the polar bears; he takes the souls of the dead and gives them to the living. As time passes and she grows fonder of her husband, she tries to help him in his quest to keep as many polar bear cubs alive (through the gift of souls) using science. When she becomes pregnant, she breaks his rule and looks upon his face as he sleeps in human skin. Her promise broken, he is taken by the trolls and his palace collapses, leaving Cassie alone on the North Pole. Faced with a life-or-death decision, she turns and tries to find her way to the Trolls kingdom, North of the Sun and East of the Moon.

This book contains a lot of new elements, as one must to flesh a children’s book to a full-sized novel. Making Bear a munaqsri, a spirit keeper, adds a new element to him; one that makes him not a cursed prince but a magical being in his own right. The trolls, too, have been changed; they are no longer the troll of tradition, but a race of gelatinous, ever-changing, ethereal beings who want to live but do not know how. Cassandra, on her travels, encounters more perils then helpers, and would have died without tricking another spirit-keeper into letting her and her unborn child live. And of course, Cassie’s pregnancy is one of the bigger changes, but one that, ultimately, fits in with the rest of the plot.

This one is harder to compare against the picture books, since they are trying to accomplish very different things. At its heart, Ice keeps more in line with East of the Sun West of the Moon then part 2 did – at the very least it has a polar bear! It has new, imaginative elements that kids will enjoy, alongside realistic ones like relationship issues. My biggest disappointment with this novel is that it doesn’t offer a resolution to these issues, but most children will accept it for the love story that it is, without my twitching irritation with the ending. After all, only I could be so annoyed with an unrealistic romantic resolution in a fantasy novel.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: East of the Sun & West of the Moon (Part 4) « dearassalt

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