Guess what? I finally made it to book club!
July’s book had to be a little shorter and easier to read than usual, since we only had a few weeks to read it. We decided to read a fairy tale retelling: Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow, by Jessica Day George.
I’ve never read George’s books before, but she does a good job of keeping a story rolling. There’s a few tedious parts in there, but it’s still fun to read, and I enjoyed the retelling of one of my favorite fairy tales, “East of the Sun and West of the Moon.” I was actually very impressed at how many small details she included from the fairy tale; I don’t think she threw anything out from the original story, just expanded it. I was also impressed that she made a fairy tale so short and nonsensical into a novel that made sense. I mean, it’s still fantasy—but she found reasonable explanations for even some of the stranger parts of the story.
The book is about a 17-year-old girl who has no name (because her mother had wanted a boy and refused to give her baby a name. I have some choice words for this mother, for quite a few reasons.) Anyways, “the lass” agrees to spend a year and a day in a palace with a polar bear, because he says he needs her to, and can’t explain why. She feels like it’s destiny. Also, the polar bear offers to make her family rich, which makes the worthless mother happy to no end.
As the lass wanders through the castle, she starts decoding the secret history behind the place, and the more questions she asks, the more nervous the servants get. And then the servants start disappearing. And also, someone’s sleeping with her at night. (Not sleeping with her, just sleeping in the same bed. Clarification.)
Having already read the fairy tale, I had some spoilers. But without having read the fairy tale, it would have been quite a mystery. And as it was, George adds quite a bit to the story, anyway.
Things I didn’t like: the main character’s mother. But you’re not supposed to, so there’s that. Having said that, I didn’t like the main character, and that was a problem. She’s supposed to be curious and bold and intelligent and all that, but I got a real whiny aftertaste from her. Also, pretty selfish. Like, ‘I think the reason the servants keep going missing is because I’m asking too many questions, so I’d better keep asking questions and endangering all the servants’ kind of selfish. Curiosity to a fault. Anyways. I really liked the story, I didn’t like the lass.
Still, I would recommend this book to anyone who’s read the fairy tale and liked it, or to anyone who hasn’t read the fairy tale, and loves a good fairy tale. ♦