This month’s book review is of East, by Edith Pattou.
I found East attractive on reading the back, because I’m always attracted to retellings of fairy tales, especially the lesser-known ones. This particular book is a retelling of the Grimm’s fairy tale “East O’ the Sun and West O’ the Moon,” in which a young girl’s beloved is transformed into an animal and she must travel to a mythical country in order to get him back in his human shape. East combines that story with the beautiful Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche, creating a combination that is both fresh and predictable, with lively characters and skillful setting of the mood and style.
The back story of Rose, the heroine’s “birth direction” is interesting, almost more so than the actual plot. The story is told from the viewpoints of various characters, allowing the author to keep up with people long after they have dropped out of the main storyline. Each character has a distinct style, and the switchbacks between them keep an old story interesting.
The trolls and silent, snow-covered forests add just the right amount of creepiness to the fairy tale plotline, but one can get bogged down in certain parts of the novel, which is quite long, with a subplot as well as the basic story of Rose and her white bear. All in all, this is a well-written book that I would reccomend to anyone who knows their Grimms and Greek myths, as well as readers who might not be farmiliar with the relevant tales. While reading East, I kept coming across beautiful little nods to both works, and small connections within the novel itself. This is the kind of novel to be read in closely spaced chunks, to avoid losing interest in the story.