By Sarah Beth Durst
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2009. 308 pp. Young adult fiction.
In this story where modern and ancient collide, Cassandra Dasent is raised in a remote Arctic research station with her father. Although her grandmother has told and retold the fairy tale that Cassie's mother, daughter of the North Wind, was whisked away by trolls, Cassie's pragmatism and scientific upbringing keep her from regarding it as anything more than a euphemism for her mother's death. When Cassie's path brings a strange, magical polar bear into her life, he describes her mother's imprisonment, agreeing to rescue her if Cassie will become his wife. Thus begins what first seems like an endless imprisonment but evolves into a loving, loyal partnership. However, when Cassandra unwittingly destroys their life together, she must make an impossible journey east of the sun and west of the moon to save her beloved Bear.
Beautifully woven, this fairy tale retold has been done splendidly. Although this is the third chapter book retelling of this particular tale that I've read, I was impressed that it was not only a great read but also very different from the other two, being Pattou's East and George's Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow, both also being well-told. Durst's gorgeous descriptions in this story weave a beautiful, magical fantasy world that is so neatly juxtaposed with the stark reality of Cassie's scientific modern life. Excellently done!