Blessed—or cursed—with an ability to understand animals, the Lass (as she’s known to her family) has always been an oddball. And when an isbjorn (polar bear) seeks her out, and promises that her family will become rich if only the Lass will accompany him to his castle, she doesn’t hesitate. But the bear is not what he seems, nor is his castle, which is made of ice and inhabited by a silent staff of servents. Only a grueling journey on the backs of the four winds will reveal the truth: the bear is really a prince who’s been enchanted by a troll queen, and the Lass must come up with a way to free him before he’s forced to marry a troll princess.
Because of all the moving and finals crap that are going on in my life right now, I decided to, as me friend Mel would say, procrastinate productively. So here is a review of one of my favorite books ever (how the hell didn’t I have one written already?? You have many things to explain, Past Jinan).
When I was checking the book out on Goodreads, it turned out to be a retelling of a fairy tale called East of the Sun West of the Moon. Naturally, I’ve never heard of it. My reaction was something along these lines:
meh that’s nothing new. The only fairy tales you know are the Disney ones”
So I went into it knowing nothing. And it was awesome. I wasn’t expecting the events that happened and I didn’t jump to conclusions like I would’ve if I had known the story (yes people, ignorance does have its benefits).
Also please please please can the people who write synopses not mention things that happen really late into the story?
Only a grueling journey on the backs of the four winds will reveal the truth: the bear is really a prince who’s been enchanted by a troll queen, and the Lass must come up with a way to free him before he’s forced to marry a troll princess.
This journey happens at around 60%. I’ve DNFed more than one book because I felt that the promised events aren’t happening.
This is the first story I read for George and it definitely won’t be the last. Her writing is simply spectacular. The prose is so beautiful and the descriptions are never boring. I probably looked like a kid with a shiny new toy while reading it: all bright glowing eyes and silly grin.
Let’s talk about that title for a sec, okay? Isn’t it brilliant? Isn’t it awesome?
I don’t want to talk about the cover, though. It’s seriously ugly. Bleh. Book, why can’t you be beautiful on the outside as you are on the inside. Thank god I don’t judge books by their covers.
The main character is nameless. After she was born, Frida, the mother, was so disappointed she wasn’t a boy that she refused to name her. It was a mother’s job to name the daughters and because Frida refused to do so, the baby remained nameless. Her family simply call her “pika” (which means girl in Norwegian) but Hans Peter, her favorite brother, calls her “lass” because it’s prettier.
Coming from an extremely poor family, the lass is the youngest of 9 children. One day, she finds the white deer, a creature that can grant you a wish if you capture it, trapped in the forest and she frees it. The deer grants her a wish: to have a name . Unknown to the lass at that time, the deer also gives her the ability to understand animals. Once she discovers her new ability, she uses it to help the animals in her village. Then one day, an isbjorn comes to her house and promises her that if she comes and lives with him for a year, her family will become rich. And so her adventures begin.
The lass: Even with her misfortunes, the lass never complained and made the most out of her situations. She never moaned over her mother’s dislike to her, and though she didn’t particularly like Askeladden, she never wished him bad. A lot of characters were drawn to her because of her kind heart and gave her a hand when needed.
The Prince: This was were the story was weak. The romance part never really developed and the lass agreed to marry him in the end??? It was a bit rushed in my opinion but then again, Snow White fell in love with her prince the minute she woke up so I guess there is that.
Rollo: I loved Rollo. He was so protective of the lass. The part where their neighbor gave him to the her is one of my favorite parts of the story.
Hans Peter: He left to the sea when the lass was 4 and when he came back he was stooped and tired. All he did was sit by the fire, carve strange figures before dropping them into the hearth. The lass idolized him and he, in turn, adored her. We learn about his and Tova’s story throughout the lass’s life in the isbjorn’s castle.
Frida: I wanted to slap the mother on more than one occasion. Oh who am I kidding. I wanted to slap her throughout the whole book. Frida was, for the lack of a better word, retarded. All she cared about was her precious Askeladden (third lucky son) and she treated the lass with clear contempt. She never gave her any sign that she loves her. When the isbjorn took the lass to his castle, all she did was nod in her direction. Obviously, Frida should win Best Mother of the Year award.
Jarl: Jarl was the exact opposite of his wife. He was kind-hearted and loved all his children equally. He used to, and my heart practically melts at this, put offerings in the forest to placate the trolls for they were rumored to steal unnamed children.
Something I also loved about this story is that it has a glossary for the pronunciation of the characters’ names. Any book with a map or pronunciation guide wins my heart instantly.
This is exactly my type of story; fantasy and beautiful prose and wonderful world building. I’m pretty sure that George wrote this book for me…she just forgot to add my name in the dedication part 😉
If you haven’t read this book yet PLEASE RECTIFY. I don’t know what you’ve been doing in your life until now.