Pika (meaning girl), or “lass” (as she is known to her family), is the youngest of nine. Her mother, who has no use for girls, didn’t bother to name her. This, and a talent for understanding animals, sets Lass apart.
One day, an Isbjørn (ice bear – i.e. polar bear) seeks her out. Assured by promises that she will not be harmed, and that her family will become rich if she agrees, the Lass consents to accompanying the bear to his castle, to live there for a year. All she has to do is wait.
But the lass is a curious girl, and she is determined to find out what enchantments bind Isbjørn and his mysterious ice castle filled with strange servants and rooms of everyday objects. Slowly she tries to decipher the strange symbols carved onto the pillars and doorways, and to unravel the mysteries of the palace and it’s inhabitants.
When her curiosity goes too far, the lass must undertake a lengthy journey to find the palace East of the sun and west of the moon. There, she must find a way to free her prince before he is forced to marry the Troll princess and is lost to her forever.
Brilliant!! Jessica Day George keeps proving to me that she’s a fantastic teller of tales! I loved this book – I loved it’s references to the tale of Cupid and Psyche (and it’s relations to “Beauty and the Beast”). This book is apparently based on the Nordic legend East of the Sun, West of the Moon. Although I hadn’t actually read or heard that legend before, it binds together many elements of tales that I am familiar with.
The lass is a strong female character. Her curiosity is totally understandable and justifiable. Who wouldn’t be curious? I like that she’s not passive or biddable. I love that she can speak with animals, and has a kind heart. I would be just as curious if it was me!
I appreciated the secondary love story – that of Hans-Peter (elder brother to the lass) and his lost love, Tova.
I loved that the lass has a good, kind father who loves all his children
I also loved the descriptions of the Trolls, and their desire to be like humans (which was ultimately their downfall).
This was a clever book, neatly written and full of good feelings!