Thursday, March 11, 2010

Book Review: Ice by Sarah Beth Durst

Cassie has grown up at an arctic research station with her father, hearing her grandmother tell the fairy tale about the polar bear king, and how he will one day claim the daughter of the woman promised to him by the north wind. Because the woman hid from the north wind to marry a human man, when the north wind found her, he blew her beyond the ends of the world where she was captured by trolls.

When she turns 18, Cassie meets a strange talking polar bear who claims her as his wife. They make a deal that if the polar bear can bring her mother back from the trolls, she will marry him. And thus begins this very clever and wonderfully satisfying retelling of the Norwegian fairy tale East of the Sun, West of Moon.

Raised on the ice, Cassie is a winter survivalist, used to making split-second decisions. With that in mind, it wasn’t so difficult to understand Cassie actions in the story – actions that might seem illogical or rash when done by a less independent character. I liked Cassie, and I liked the polar bear king, known as Bear. As strange as it might seem, they made a great team.

Not that I didn’t have my share of “ewwww” moments (Drinking from a polar bear mother’s teat? Really?), but fortunately, Cassie’s romance with a polar bear didn’t gross me out like I initially thought it might, thanks to some shape-shifting powers. They were given time to properly develop a real attraction to each other, so that later, when the plot demands that Cassie go to great lengths to rescue Bear, it seems like a totally natural act.

While the first half is really engaging and well done, the pacing was a bit off for me leading up to the climax. Cassie spends so much time trying to get to Bear that once she finally does, the end feels rushed. Their reunion is so sweet, I really would’ve liked more time with them. Overall, I was thoroughly entertained and enchanted, and highly recommend this one to fans of romance, fairy tale retellings and fantasy.

ICE is out now in hardcover. Find out more about it at the author’s website.

28 comments:

bermudaonion said...

I'm not sure this is for me, but I think my sister would love it - she loves fantasy and fairy tales.

Liz said...

I like this book! I love the ice xD!!!

valentina said...

the cover art is stunning, and I've never read a retelling of this fairy tale. must keep it in mind.

LovesSam said...

I'm always a little bit wary of re-tellings for some reason I can't explain. Maybe because I worry that they won't live upto the original.

Great review, i've been considering buying this one for a while now, so I may just have to give it a chance

Sandy Nawrot said...

Sounds like a clever plot, although the drinking from the bear teat is pretty gross.

TexasRed said...

This sounds like it could be my kind of thing, although the polar bear romance would probably put me off it just reading the cover. Thanks for the heads-up.

Andrea said...

I love fractured fairy tales so this sounds right up my alley. The cover is beautiful too.

kay - Infinite Shelf said...

Great review! I have this on my TBR pile, but after reading some reviews, I was afraid I would be grossed out. After reading your reviews, I am a little bit reassured, and will try to read it soon.

carolsnotebook said...

I love the cover. I've never heard of this fairy tale, but do love retellings. I'll have to add it to my list.

brizmus said...

I SO want to read this book, but your review has me wondering if I might just be attributing to much awesomeness to it. I have built it up to greatness in my head.

Squishy133 said...

This looks pretty interesting. Actually, my library has a book that looks a bit like this but it had a different name. Hmm, how odd!

April (BooksandWine) said...

I feel I'd be in the creeped-out camp at first as well. I won a copy of this in a giveaway and will definitely be reading it within a few months.

Glad to see you enjoyed Ice :-) I hope her next book is just as good.

Sarah said...

I loved this one! Not grossed out at all. I liked Cassie and found Bear very charming.

Lana said...

I had some pacing problems with Ice, too - but I loved the first part of the story when Bear and Cassie are growing to know and love one another.

Zibilee said...

This sounds very different than anything I have read before, but I am nonetheless intrigued with your synopsis and opinions of this book! I will have to try this one out for myself, it sounds very interesting! Great review, Lenore!

Anonymous said...

OH YES. Bear was very charming. If I he were real, I'd very much like to hug him. *inLaLaLand*

- samosa

Kathleen said...

I struggle with the whole animal/human romance thing but know it can work if the book is written well. As trite as it might sound, I adore this cover!

Jeannie @ Pine Cottage Books said...

This sounds like a good one to me! Thanks for such a nice review.

Nymeth said...

This is based on my favourite fairy tale, so of course I want it! Even more so after your great review.

Chachic said...

I have to agree with your review, the first half really drew me in but when Cassie started her own adventure, it just kind of went downhill.

She said...

This sounds really interesting, but I'm afraid I would be a little too creeped out by the human/polar bear affair. It's nice to hear it was done well, though.

Staci said...

Strange concept...not sure if I could get past the polar bear thing but overall it could be a good read. Maybe I just need to put that prejudice in a box and just read it with an open mind!!??

caite said...

oh, I am afraid this book sounds a bit too 'much' for me.
I do wonder what polar bear milk tastes like though.

Ladybug said...

Great review, Lenore! I didn't like the book as much as you did. I really enjoyed the first part of the book and then I couldn't quite connect with Cassie in the second part.

Also I kept thinking a bit too much of the Norwegian movie, The Polar Bear King, based on the same tale.

Shweta said...

I have been wanting to read this one for a long time now :) Love the cover too .

Amy said...

Fantasy/fairy tale - sounds like my kind of book. Love the cover too.

Misty said...

I want to read this one (and East, Pattou) for comparison purposes, as I just finished Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow, which is based on the same tale. I was very pleased with the way it was written (and I agree, the polar bear romance wasn't weird; it wasn't some sort of furrier fetish porn disguised as a ya book.) I have heard this one is lower on the list when it comes to writing, so I guess we'll see where they all stack up in the end.

Heather Zundel said...

I was quite taken with this retelling myself. I'm so glad you've reviewed it, Lenore.