Friday, June 18, 2010


When Cassie was a little girl, her grandmother told her a fairy tale about her mother, who made a deal with the Polar Bear King and was swept away to the ends of the earth. Now that Cassie is older, she knows the story was a nice way of saying her mother had died. Cassie lives with her father at an Arctic research station, is determined to become a scientist, and has no time for make-believe.

Then, on her eighteenth birthday, Cassie comes face-to-face with a polar bear who speaks to her. He tells her that her mother is alive, imprisoned at the ends of the earth. And he can bring her back -- if Cassie will agree to be his bride.

That is the beginning of Cassie's own real-life fairy tale, one that sends her on an unbelievable journey across the brutal Arctic, through the Canadian boreal forest, and on the back of the North Wind to the land east of the sun and west of the moon. Before it is over, the world she knows will be swept away, and everything she holds dear will be taken from her -- until she discovers the true meaning of love and family in the magical realm of Ice.

Beth says 4.5 Stars...

This book was very good, but not the best retelling of this tale that I've read. Everything shall always be compared to Jessica Day George's magnificent Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow. What I loved about this interpretation was that it was just that; it took the basic plot points that make the story what it is, and then changed everything else about it. The concept of the munaqsri was very original and not what I expected. The book was fairly well paced, but ever so often it lagged. I also felt confused once in a while when the dropping of information was improperly times. There were a few things that needed to be explained earlier then they were. These were just minor issues, as neither of them were present often.

I initially really liked Cassie. I felt a camaraderie with her in how rational and scientific she was. As a scientist I understood how and why she was thinking and saying the things she did. During the middle of the book, she began to annoy me with her angst. It was irritating when she whined and complained, not knowing what she wanted. Luckily, that didn't last terribly long. Bear was lots of fun, and the relationship, though more than a little strange, developed nicely. There weren't too many major supporting characters, which I think worked in the book's favor. It made the sparse Arctic landscape more believable, and carried that atmosphere into the rest of the novel.

This is a very good book. It's a good rendition, and the ending is a lovely combination of ordinary and unexpected. If you want a little Arctic chill to help temper the sweltering summer heat, this is for you.


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