Title: Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow
Author: Jessica Day George
"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."
"Long ago and far away in the land of ice and snow, there came a time when it seemed that winter would never end. The months when summer should have given the land respire were cold and damp, and the winter months were snow filled and colder still."
After reading two of her novels, I feel I can safely declare my love of Jessica Day George. She is an amazing storyteller that can easily make me lose grip on reality. There are a few reasons I didn't pick this book up until now... I mean, the title is a bit of a mouthful... the cover isn't exactly "pick me up!" material... the summary is about some bear?! So yeah, I'm ecstatic that my coworker convinced me to read this one. I promise, if you ignore all the silly outer stuff, you too will find that the inside is pure gold!
Apparently this story is taken from old folklore somewhere, but as I'm not a scholar in Norwegian folklore, the whole story was new and wonderful for me. The entire northern landscape was a bit exotic in my eyes - it's not something I know well. So the first part of the book had me completely hooked. At first, it seemed like everyone was living in fear of things that didn't exist - trolls, dragons, enchanted reindeer, etc. The fact that those things are real makes this story so very interesting.
I almost immediately fell in love with the characters. You follow them quickly through childhood in the first few chapters, but all of those events are important. This story is just so well crafted, you don't even realize how much information you are getting from the author. Because the family is so big (nine children), you never really get to know all of the siblings. I know you don't need them for the story, but it almost made me wonder why we didn't hear from any of the rest of them. That probably would have jammed up the beginning of the book too much - because most of them were married and gone by the time the main segment of the story starts - but it would have been nice to get a sense of all of them.
Can I stress how much I loved this book?! If you haven't read any of this author's novels, I would suggest getting your hands on one of them immediately. And you're in luck, because her next book Princess of Glass comes out this week! Ta da! Seriously, check out this author - especially if you love historical fiction... or retold fairy tales/folktales... or books in general. The writing is spectacular and I can't say that enough.
Here's the official website of Jessica Day George. I'm going to have to start following her blog! I didn't even realize there was one out there :). You should too.
Other Blog Reviews:
Becky's Book Reviews