Hello, All! Sorry that it has been so long since my last post, but I intend to make up for it with this and a couple of other posts over the next few days!
Today's review is about a book called East.
This is a retelling of the myth called East of the sun and west of the moon. I haven't read the original tale, but from the synopsis that I checked out, this book seems to be very accurate to the original. East was written by Edith Pattou. She has a couple of other books, but this was the first that I've read by her. It's a young adult, myth, or historical fantasy fiction.
The book is set in Norway, I'm not exactly sure when, but I believe it's meant to be in the 1500's. It's a fascinating tale, told from 5 different points of view, though mainly through the eyes of Rose, the main character. Rose was born the 8th child to a former Map-maker named Arni and his loving, but very superstitious wife, Eugenia. Her strongest belief is in Birth Direction. Birth Direction says that a person's personality, temperament, and course of life are determined by the direction their mother was facing when they were born. She believes that it will bring them good luck to have a child of each direction...except North. It was foretold that any North-child she had would be a wanderer, and then buried alive in ice. Eugenia goes to extreme lengths to avoid having a north-born, and is satisfied when she finally has the last of the 7 directionaly planned children. Till one takes ill, and dies. Eugenia insists on having another baby, to fill in the gap, but when the time comes, there seem to be mysterious circumstances around the birth of there new daughter. The whole family knows that something is wrong, but at the instance of Eugenia, everyone drops the subject and moves on with life. Except Arni and the now second youngest child Neddy. Neddy falls in love with his little sister from day one, and the two are best friends for life. Neddy is more of a home body though, choosing to work on his studies and intellect, and Rose can not sit still for anything. There is always something drawling her away, a wind, a butterfly, a sound, a dream. She is constantly wandering away much to the worry and upset of her Mother and Brother.
Neddy is another of perspectives used to tell the tale. He sees everything through the loving, and trusting eyes of an elder brother. Arni, the Father, also gives some insight. He tells of how he much he loved his map making business, but how he was influenced, by his wife to become a farmer. He's not a good farmer. He tries hard, but the families circumstances deteriorate as the years pass. Rose, meanwhile is aware of the family's misfortunes, and does what she can to help, but can't stop herself from wondering. At different times through out her life, Rose comes in contact with a great white bear. Neddy sees it too, but to him it's just a bear. Rose sees in it the eyes and almost the soul of a human. Naturally, she's encouraged to not discuss the bear around her mother, and Neddy tries to act as though it doesn't even exist, but it's a delusion he can't hold on to for long.
It seems like the family can't become any poorer, when they do. And on top of it, one of the elder daughters becomes very sick. The family pull together, and do the best that they can, but finally all hope seems lost.
That is when the White Bear returns.
He returns with a very shocking offer for the family, one that they try hard to refuse. Rose must go with the Bear. If she does then the family will receive good fortune, like never before, and the sick daughter will be delivered. If she doesn't, their sadness will know no end.
What is Rose to do?
Ah, well, you have to read and find out!
What I've told you of the story so far is just the beginning. But I don't do spoilers, and I really highly recommend this one!
Let me tell you why.
Rose is a great character. Just exactly what I love in a heroine. She is brave, clever, loving, and determined to do what is right. I think she's fascinating in her interests, and quirks. She's not perfect, but she is admirable.
Her family is interesting too. Pattou is excellent at Character development, though I do wish she had gone into a little more detail about the other siblings. I know this books is not about them, but I like learning about families, they help explain a person, for better or worse, and I think that I might have had an even deeper understanding of Rose if they had been more involved. That is just a personal preference.
Her descriptions were adequate. It's always obvious where the characters are, and how they are influenced by their surroundings. I do think she was a little sparse at times, a little vague. But over all, I think she is a good writer.
I absolutely recommend this book, and give it a 4.
As I said, I am going to try to get more reviews out this week. Please leave comments, and feedback!