Book Review: “Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow” by Jessica Day George

day Finally a beautiful book written with a fairy tale narration that wasn’t laden with grammatical errors. There was one typo in the entire book that caught my attention, which is an easy mistake, but this review isn’t about the editing of Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George.

George takes the White Bear King’s story and revamps it. If you’re familiar with Dennis McKiernan’s Once Upon a Winter’s Night, then you’ll know what Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow is all about. However, if you’ve never come across the Norse fairy tale it’s based on and love stories about princes, maidens, fauns, centaurs, gargoyles, and trolls then this is definitely it for you.

The story involves a similar premise to Beauty and the Beast, but slightly different. In this fairy tale, the white bear is not a vain prince punished because he lacks humility. Instead, he is the victim of this entire story. By day he is a great white polar bear and by night he is human. He was cursed by a troll princess to find a maiden to live with him for a year and a day; she must not look at his human form by night or he will become the troll princess’ new husband. She must not run away because she fears him as a bear either.

Quite the conundrum for a bear. We come to George’s story with the introduction of a nameless fourth daughter in a family with several children. The mother disdains the birth of another “useless daughter” and refuses to name her as in George’s story the custom dictates only the mother can name a child. She’s come to be known as Lass with a very inquisitive nature and kind heart. Her older brother, Hans Peter, returns from traveling by sea and is undoubtedly very fond of his youngest sister. He teaches her to recognize shapes he whittles out of wood. Later we come to find out these symbols (images) are pieces of troll language.

Throughout the story, lore and tradition take a front lead. The mother believes in it so completely that she pushes everyone to pursue their fates and bring wealth to the family. George introduces the mythological White Stag as an element to inspire a change in Lass’ life. Avoiding unnecessary spoilers, it grants her a boon – a name. Her own name. Somehow during it all, she comes into a power to understand animals. This gives her a bit of fame and not long after she’s widely known for being able to communicate with animals a white polar bear shows up. Typical to the lore, she is asked to spend a year and a day with him. George’s following of the fairy tale is complete, but it’s the way the author shares it with us that makes the tale wonderful and worth a read.

George inspires readers to keep pace with her through beautiful literary flow. You can find yourself immersed in her words as you follow along with Lass on her journey to saving her brother, Hans Peter, and helping the white polar bear. I found myself enjoying the easy read of George’s book to McKiernan’s version of the story and hope you, the next reader, will take a chance and read her book too. There’s a free sample copy of the first chapter available for download. She writes in third person, past tense, and revives the old traditional usage of a glossary at the end of her book (which I wasn’t aware of until I finished! D’oh!) for those unfamiliar with some of the terms used.

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