East of the Sun & West of the Moon (Part 4)

By Edith Pattou

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

The book is written from five alternating points of view: Rose, Father (Rose’s father), Neddy (Rose’s brother), the White Bear, and the Troll Queen. Each chapter gives a different point of view, and each takes the tale a little farther forward. At first I found this gimmick off-putting, but as the book progressed I found it helped the pace, keeping me engaged and racing for the end.

East gives us plausible characters, realistic scenarios and reactions, as well as a real and solid world setting. Even differing religions and folktales are given a place in East, which makes the religious studies student in me pleased. It is what I wished Ice had been. Some may find the shifting points of view and size off-putting, since East comes in at roughly 400 pages. The chapters are short, however, and can be picked off slowly. A good book for those that love fleshed-out folktales.

Suggested Ages: 9-12+

Pattou, E. (2005). East. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

*****

East by Edith Pattou is my fourth and final book dealing with an adaption of East of the Sun and West of the Moon. At 494 pages, it is by far the longest of the books, and while I think some people might be put off by the length, I strongly suggest giving this one a look.

The book is written from five alternating points of view: Rose, Father (Rose’s father), Neddy (Rose’s brother), the White Bear, and the Troll Queen. Each chapter gives a different point of view, and each takes the tale a little farther forward. At first I found this gimmick off-putting, but as the book progressed I found it helped the pace, keeping me engaged and racing for the end. The only issue I truly found was that, if you read the prologue, East‘s story is set up as a story written down by those in the family, and found by a family descendent. If that’s the case, how in the world did they get the Troll Queen’s parts? I simply decided to ignore the prologue, since it added nothing and came to no conclusion at the end.

Aside from the version by Laslo Gal, which is necessarily short and somewhat barren on details are all folktales tend to be, East was my absolute favorite adaption of East of the Sun and West of the moon. It gave plausible characters, realistic (as much as you can in a fairy tale) scenarios and reactions, as well as a real and solid world setting. Rose’s world is set in roughly the 1550’s in Njord (Norway), and her world is realistic and well-formed. She has a plausible family, and one of the best parts of the early story are the descriptions of her mother and her mother’s direction-based superstitions. As the story advances, all the relationship between Rose and her family and their neighbours is realistic. There’s nothing bizarre or out-of-character, and follows how people might indeed react in any given situation. Even differing religions and folktales are given a place in East, which makes the religious studies student in me pleased. Viking lore merges with Christianity and Dutch beliefs flawlessly within the pages. And, regardless of the real-world grounding, East is still full of fantasy and the fantastic.

Most importantly, East follows the traditional story of East of the Sun and West of the Moon, with one sole deviation: the North Wind does not make a personified appearance. We could make an argument that he is there, in he does not help Rose reach her destination. Instead this task is given to an Inuit Shaman named Malmo, and accomplished without magic.

East is what I wish Ice had been. The basic story of East of the Sun and West of the Moon is there almost in its entirety, from the entrance of the White Bear to his final trick on the Troll Queen. If you loved East of the Sun and West of the Moon and want something more, pick up East. It is tagged for children 12+, but could make a great bedtime story, with short, interesting chapters that will keep them engaged until the end.

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