Every once in a while, a reader finds a book that fills every ounce of one's being and is simply impossible to put down. I just finished one of those books: Sun and moon, snow and ice by Jessica Day George. It is a retelling of East of the Sun, West of the Moon. The main character, Pika (this drove me crazy because the author said pika meant girl in old Norse but in current Swedish, pojke (said poy-ka, just close enough in pronunciation) means boy but I don't think it would bother any other reader than this one) is the last child of a poor family, so despised by her mother that she didn't even name the child, hence her being called Pika. The girl is warm and compassionate, also very curious and determined to help solve everyone's problems. Pika is especially close to her oldest brother, recently returned from time as a merchant marine, who has become a loner, unwilling to communicate with others save for his sister, whom he calls Lass. Pika is taken from her family by a polar bear who says she must stay with him for a year and a day but is unwilling to explain why. Pika goes with him to the ice palace where he lives and is served by a variety of servants--a faun, a gargoyle, a selkie, lizards and more. In her own "helpful" way, Pika tries to help all inhabitants of the castle to gain their freedom with unhappy results. The rest of the story will be told to you when you read the book.
I really enjoyed the minor characters: the cheerful lizards who cook the exquisite meals served to Pika, the faun who waits on Pika at her meals, the wolf/dog devoted to Pika, the vain and silly dwarf princess--all added so much to the story. I enjoyed every moment in their company.
Another delightful retelling of East of the Sun, West of the Moon is East by Edith Pattou. It has fewer magical elements but a very compelling storyline. You won't feel like you're reading the same book over again if you read both books.
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