on 9 January 2010
Like everyone else, I grew up on fairytales. The handsome prince, the wicked villain, the happily ever after - I know my favourites inside out. That's why, when I encounter a fairytale retelling, I often most look forward to how the author will interpret or deviate from the standard version. On this occasion, I was able to open Ice without any preconceived ideas or expectations. I don't know the fairytale Sarah Beth Durst's story is based on, East of the Sun, West of the Moon, but I found myself falling in love with its retelling at first sight.
In Ice, Sarah Beth Durst has crafted a beautiful novel that both delights and horrifies. There's delight to be found everywhere - in the incredibly pure love story of Cassie and the Polar Bear King, and in the many whimsical moments. And when I say whimsical, I mean it: a table made of ice that yields delicious feasts on Bear's command, the tree-girl with skin like green leaves and hair like twigs. It's a welcome return to the kind of magical fairytale world we loved as little children, and it's even better than I remembered. At the same time, there's the fact that Bear's breath smells like raw fish even when he takes human form, there's the inconvenience of the human body and there's a lot of pain.
For me, this fusion of reality and magic is part of what makes Ice so incredibly relevant. It's unusual to read a YA novel that combines fantastical elements and an essentially paranormal romance with such mature themes. It's not the idealised version of life or love you find in weaker, less challenging titles. It's real life, and real love. When we first meet Cassie she's a girl, but by the end of the story she is well and truly an adult - and a wife. This is her journey, and in the context of contemporary YA fiction it's off the beaten track. But we all know that's often the best place to be.
Now, I can't review Ice without making a special mention about the breathtaking scenery. Durst paints her world so vividly that I found myself shivering on more than occasion. To put this into context: I read this book lying on the beach in 29 degree sunshine, and I could feel the Arctic cold. Not only that, but as Cassie's journey takes her over land and ocean it's all just as artfully drawn. We're there with her. We feel it.
I'd recommend Ice to anyone who enjoys fairytale retellings in general, but also to anyone who's looking to try the genre for the first time. It's one of the best. If, like me, you're unfamiliar with the original, Ice will make you want to read that too.
on 4 March 2010
I really liked Ice! An updated version of the fairy tale East of the Sun and West of the Moon, it was different from what I expected, but I'm not entirely sure what I expected. A girl who falls for a polar bear? Yeah, right, there's going to be a twist there somewhere. And yes, there is a twist, but it does happen; a girl falls for a polar bear.
There is a whole lot more to this polar bear than meets the eye though. His magic abilities, for instance; how he can make food appear on a whim, how he can travel super fast, and his actual reason for being - to transfer souls from the dead to the newly born. He really is a great guy, is ol' Bear, as he is called.
Then there's Cassie, who just wants her Mum, who was taken away from her when she was very small. Bargains are made to save her life, but after a while, life happens, and things don't go according to plan. Cassie's life is turned upside down, and she finds herself on an unimaginable journey.
I cannot believe the strength of this girl. Seriously, first she has to accet fairy tales are real, and get used to that idea, and then when things go pear shaped, she has to go through so much, emotionally and physically. Her strength and determination are awe-inspiring. This is one tough chick!
As I said, I really liked Ice! At first, it reminded me a lot of Beauty and the Beast, where Beast is actually really nice. The novel is separated into three parts, but for me, it seems more like two; the first where deals are made regarding Cassie's mother and then her time with Bear, and then the second part when things end up not so great. What happens? You'll just have to read!
The book feels a lot like a fairy tale, even though it's written to seem like this could actually happen. This is no bad thing, but it's just not as urban fantasy as I thought it may have been. I equated a fairy tale that has been updated and modernised with urban fantasy. I suppose Ice could be in a way, the fairy tale elements are still there which make the story more like a cozy read that will leave you smiling than a story that will have you buzzing. It's a nice cup of tea to urban fantasy's glass of pop.
It really was a beautiful story, and at times, so much goes on, and it really does leave you wondering how on earth the story is ever going to get round to an end - you'll understand when you read it. I highly recommend this book, it's lovely, and such an great page turner. I'll definitely be picking up more of Sarah Beth Durst's novels.
on 27 September 2010
I came across this book entirely by accident and was very excited at the prospect of a novel-length re-telling of one of my favourite tales, East O the Sun and West O the Moon. It kept me enthralled right to the end, with a very well thought out and unusual take on the story. I particularly liked the description of Bear in his human form. Also, this book had a fiesty heroine who struggled on towards her goal despite the length and hardship of her journey there. One to read if you, like me, dream of ice and snow and a love you would travel to the ends of the earth to save.
Cassie has grown up on an Arctic research station in Alaska with her father. She's been told stories of her mother, who made a deal with the Polar Bear King and is now imprisoned by trolls.
Cassie is eighteen and doesn't believe in Polar Bear Kings or trolls anymore - it's just a nice way of saying her mother died. But when she seeks out a polar bear that starts talking to her and promises he can return her mother if she would become his bride, Cassie starts to wonder if fairy tales really are true.
I enjoyed Sarah Beth Durst's previous novels INTO THE WILD and OUT OF THE WILD, and I was excited to see she'd keep writing about fairy tales. In ICE, she takes the story of EAST OF THE SUN, WEST OF THE MOON and gives it a twist - it's a modern setting, and Cassie's mother was the first one to make a deal with the Polar Bear King.
You don't have to be familiar with the original tale to enjoy ICE. Ms. Durst makes the story her own and it's a beautiful, engrossing tale of how far someone would go for true love.
Cassie is strong and spunky - I think she rivals Belle as my favorite fairy tale heroine. Her determination and stubbornness make her likeable and appealing and she fights for what she wants. If I'm ever stuck with trolls, I want Cassie by my side!!
Ms. Durst's writing is very descriptive and draws you in. I could imagine myself in the ice castle with Cassie and Bear, could feel the North Wind blowing, and hear Father Forest's voice. ICE is a novel that draws you in to its setting and you want to fight along with Cassie.
Full of action and romance, ICE is sure to delight fans of all ages who enjoy curling up with a good fairy tale.
Reviewed by: Sarah Bean the Green Bean Teen Queen
Ice is a magical, compelling story that is perfect for reading in the middle of a snow-filled winter. It draws you in to Cassie's world, and takes you on a journey through an Arctic different to how you or I have ever imagined it.
When I first started reading Ice, I wasn't sure what to expect. I'm not usually a fan of fairytale retellings and, to be honest, the thought of a talking polar bear left me more than a little skeptical. I gave it a go, in true open-minded-YA-reader style, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Because I wasn't familiar with the old story, it didn't feel like a retelling, and I ended up growing quite attached to the bear and his human ways.
Sarah Beth Durst's writing is very polished and easy to read, with characters and locations that immediately come to life on the page. I loved the mixture of animals that showed up in the latter half of the book, and their dedication to helping Cassie on her journey was brilliant. I found Bear to be quite an odd fellow at times, but I think in his own little way, he really did love Cassie. He risked everything for her, which has to count for something in the grand scheme of things.
If you want to lose yourself in a fantasy world of myths, legends and Narnian-like animals, then buy yourself a copy of Ice. I'm not well versed in the ways of fairytales, but even I enjoyed this one!
After eighteen years growing up on an Arctic research centre, when Cassie spots the biggest polar bear she's ever seen walking past the station, she can't help but follow. Except he's no ordinary animal. He's the Polar Bear King, to whom Cassie was promised before she was even born.
But marriage to Bear, as strange and unfathomable as it is, is just the start of Cassie's journey, after a broken promise ends in Bear being stolen from her. Yet Cassie is no weakling, and is determined to follow and bring him back. Even if she has to go beyond the ends of the Earth to do so.
Encountering bears, foxes, a mermaid, tree spirits, Father Forest, mountain dragons, trolls, wind spirits and the North Wind himself, Cassie's scientific upbringing is no guard against the true magic of nature.
In this beautiful retelling of the folktale `East o' the Sun, West o' the Moon' Durst's descriptions of the Arctic and the forests are wonderfully done, showing the beauty alongside the stark dangers, and the idea of the munaqsri guarding the souls of the world is a fascinating take on the fairytale. Cassie may not be as romantic as Bear, but her strength and will to carry on against the odds makes her a heroine to cheer for as she discovers the true meaning of life, souls, promises and most of all love.
With most Grimm Style fairy tales having been fully explored, more recent offerings in the genre have brought the tales from other countries such as this offering that delves into the Scandinavian mythos. Here in this offering we get not only well rounded characters but the chance to enjoy a tale, which whilst being reminiscent of a tale we're already familiar with, that I have no cultural references to or having heard before. That makes good a good story for me. Whilst I did have some problems with this title, it is one that will appeal to the younger reader and with a pretty good principle protagonista its one that will definitely appeal to the young female market but with enough action, adventure and danger to appeal to the lads out there as well.
on 19 November 2009
"A girl called Cassie lives at a research station with her Dad. Cassie finds out her Mum could still be alive and she soon finds herself living in an ice castle, in a parallel world surrounded by talking creatures. To top it off she's married to a Polar bear. Unlike anything I have ever read before - in a good way. A cliffhanger in every chapter, I read this in just two days non-stop because I could not put it down. A thrilling book." (written by Candygirl aged 9. London, England)
on 4 January 2010
This delivered so much more than expected.
I have a certain fascination with the Arctic and Inuit legend but at first this premise seemed as though it wouldn't be believable. I couldn't have been more wrong- this held me from page one until the end. You know a good book when it stops you getting anything else done. Another brilliant book by the Simon & Schuster children's department.
on 6 June 2014
I loved this book, best book I've read in a while, it had a nice combination of romance, adventure and mystery!