Harcourt. 391p. c2003. 0-15-204563-5. $18.00. JS
From the author of Fire Arrow and Hero's Song comes a retelling of the fairy tale "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" in nearly 400 pages. It's a tale that arises from several cultures, even from the classical Greek myth of Eros and Psyche, East takes place in a land very much like northern Europe some centuries back. There are five narrators--Father, Rose, Neddy (Rose's brother), the Troll Queen, and the White Bear. Rose is our heroine, the youngest of a large family, struggling with poverty To save the family Rose goes off with the White Bear, who promises the family riches if Rose will come with him. Sound familiar? What's vastly different from "Beauty and the Beast" and other tales that are similar is the cold north, the ice, snow, white bear, trolls and so forth. We are definitely in another culture. The story itself is gripping, endlessly so, in all its forms. Pattou certainly has made a successful fantasy out of a simple fairy tale: each character has a fleshed-out personality and the details of such work as map making and sailing ships among the icebergs come to life as she describes them.
The illustration on the cover, a color painting of a great polar bear with a lovely young woman beside him, will attract all who love fantasy.