Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George

(Cover picture courtesy of the Denton Public Library.)

When a great white bear offers a woodcutter’s daughter untold riches in return for her company, she accepts, believing she has made a wise decision.  Even though the lass is offered every luxury at the bear’s castle, she begins to feel like a prisoner.  Then, when servants start to disappear, the lass realizes the bear may know more than he will say.  Determined to learn the truth, the lass sets out on a windswept journey east of the sun and west of the moon to fight for the man she has only just discovered is her one true love.

The retelling of myths and fairytales seems to be a trend in YA fiction and Jessica Day George has jumped on the bandwagon.  But the myth she chooses is not a well known one and she paints a picture of a very foreign culture not many people know about.  Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow takes place in Norway and retells an old myth from the perspective of an unnamed woodcutter’s daughter.

When I first began reading this book, I was a bit overwhelmed.  I would call it sort of a culture shock—I had just finished reading House of Dreams, a novel set in the hot climate of ancient Egypt.  Going from the heat of Ramses III’s harem to the cold, snowy land of Norway was a bit difficult, but Jessica Day George’s superb descriptions soon plunged me into the world of the lass.

The lass is a curious character (which almost brings about her downfall), but she is also brave and resourceful.  When her prince is stolen from her, she goes to the land east of the sun and west of the moon to save him.  To get there, she makes bargains with the four winds, showing her quick thinking.  While I am not familiar with the original myth, I recognized many familiar mythological elements, especially near the end as she travels to the land of the trolls.  It’s a spellbinding book with an excellent plot and great descriptions.

I give this book 4/5 stars.

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