Monday, February 16, 2009

East by Edith Pattou

*This post was supposed to be up on Sunday, but I ended up not being home the entire day and night, so I didn't catch a chance to post it! Sorry, Nymeth! My idea for it to be Sunday, and I didn't even post! There will likely be one more post after this one, because I am trying to catch-up on reviews!*

Books Completed: 37
Completion Date: February, 2009
Pages: 516
Publication Date: April 3, 2005

Reason for Reading: Buddy review with Nymeth, since we were both planning on reading this book soon!
Rose has always felt out of place in her family. So when an enormous white bear mysteriously shows up and asks her to come away with him, she readily agrees. The bear takes Rose to a distant castle, where each night she is confronted with a mystery. In solving that mystery, she finds love, discovers her purpose, and realizes her travels have only just begun. As fresh and original as only the best fantasy can be, East is a novel retelling of the classic tale "East of the Sun and West of the Moon," told in the tradition of Robin McKinley and Gail Carson Levine.

The object of the review was that we were each going to ask each other five questions. My answers are below. We gave each other different questions with only one exception, so be sure to read her post, too!

Who was your favourite character besides Rose? Why?
My favourite character in the book besides Rose was The Troll Queen. That answer surprises even me because she is the bad person in the book, but I have to say that I quite enjoyed when the story was told from her point-of-view. Pattou write a very good character when she wrote her. By having her tell her side of the story, you could understand her as a character. It might be her greed that led to the White Bears fate, and eventually Rose's, but she was just doing what she had been raised to do. She had been spoiled her life, she was the daughter of a king after all, and she was not used to anyone saying no to her. Then, when she breaks her fathers' rules, he finally decides that she has to learn from this mistake. The thing is that in many ways, everyone but her was punished. People that were not even involved in the incident had to pay the price in the end. Anyway, I liked learning about The Troll Queen. She made a good 'bad guy'.

What did you think of the setting?
As someone that likes history, I really liked how this story was essentially a fantasy novel, but it still had some truth to it. The places that the story takes place in are real place. She even gives a time for the book, saying it was the 16th-century. (She gives an exact number, but I can't remember off the top of my head and I have already brought the book back to the library.) Rose's father is a map-maker, so he travels around so that his maps can be as accurate as possible. As places start to acquire names, you can start to see the connections between Pattou's fantasy world and the world that would have been happening during our own history. By keeping the family on a remote farm, too, she successfully makes it that much easier to be both a fantasy novel and a historical novel. I especially like the references to the Vikings.

And what did you think of the relationship between Rose and The White Bear?
This is not my first retelling of his tale, so all I kept thinking was that I knew from the beginning how things were going to play out. Pattou doesn't necessarily play the story out exactly like it has been in the past, but she still keeps the main ideas there. The White Bear comes and gets Rose, and even though her family doesn't want her to go, she does. She believes she is doing so for the good of her family. I really liked the scenes between Rose and The White Bear after she has gone back to the cave with him. She uses a loom and while making her wonderful creations, the White Bear sits there and listens to her stories. Then, putting two and two together Rose discovers that The White Bear really likes music and attempts to learn how to play an instrument. Even though she claims she is terrible, he still comes in and lays down to listen to her play. I really liked those scenes between the two of them.

Tell us about a favourite scene or moment in the book (idea borrow from Dewey's Review questionnaire)
I sort of answered this question above, so I suppose I need to think of another one. One favourite scene from the book is when Rose is a little girl. She is only two-years-old, but she loves to wander. Her parents believe her to be sleeping, but really she has wandered off. Thinking her too young to get very far, they don't extend their search paramenter very far. Her brother winds up finding her, though. She has managed to climb a fence and fall into a body of water (and this will not be the last time this happens). When her brother finds her, she is being saved by a White Bear. I like this moment because her brother doesn't want to believe what he has just witnessed, but it is hard to ignore it! You also get an idea of Rose's wandering ways, which is a theme throughout the book. And, there is foreshadowing for the future.

What was your favourite thing about East? And least favourite, if you had one?
My favourite thing about this book was how well Pattou managed to retell a tale that I had heard many times before and keep it fresh and original. She keeps the main storyline mostly the same, but she alters the details and explains things that had never been explained before. Her additions really added to the story. When you read retellings it can be unsatisfying because they are really the same story, but Pattou was successful in keeping the readers' attention. As for my least favourite thing... I found there were times when Rose's brother and fathers' obsession with her disappearance were a bit annoying. Sometimes I just felt like it was done so much! It was nice to have their views on things, but it often felt like they were telling the same thing over and over again.


  1. bog error.. grrrrrrrr lost my comment..
    this is neat that you and Nymeth asked each other questions as your reviews! I have this in my tbr pile, which we all know just keeps on growing, so no telling when I will get to it! lol

  2. I loved your answers! Especially to the first question. I agree, using the Troll Queen's point of view added a lot of depth to the story. She might not have been likeable, but her motivations were believable and I could even sympathize with her at times.

    And no worries about posting it today!

  3. deslily: Yes, I saw it on your TBR pile in one of your pictures! I hope you enjoy it when you get to it. :)

    Nymeth: The interview was fun! We should try and do another one in the future. :)


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