As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

January 10, 2011

SUN AND MOON, ICE AND SNOW by Jessica Day George, 2008

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow
Blessed—or cursed—with an ability to understand animals, the Lass (as she’s known to her family) has always been an oddball. And when an isbjorn (polar bear) seeks her out, and promises that her family will become rich if only the Lass will accompany him to his castle, she doesn’t hesitate. But the bear is not what he seems, nor is his castle, which is made of ice and inhabited by a silent staff of servents. Only a grueling journey on the backs of the four winds will reveal the truth: the bear is really a prince who’s been enchanted by a troll queen, and the Lass must come up with a way to free him before he’s forced to marry a troll princess. (Amazon product description)

Review by Amy Finnegan, Writer, reader, housewife

I didn’t tell our awesome site host, Jessica Day George, that I’d be reviewing one of her books today. But she already knows that I’m one of her biggest fans, so she shouldn’t be too surprised. I figured this was good timing, as many of you have been talking about your love for fairy tale retellings, and honestly, Jessica is one of the very best contemporary authors in the fairy tale market. We’re incredibly lucky to have her on our Bookshop Talk admin team.

Reading one of Jessica Day George's novels is like being told a story personally by the author, at a storytelling festival. In SUN AND MOON, ICE AND SNOW, I could literally hear a character's voice inflections and excitement in my mind as the story unfolded, little by little.

Even though this novel is very much a fantasy, the situation, the lass’s reaction to it, and especially the dynamics of her family, seemed oddly realistic. And the setting felt so real that I literally shivered at times, bitter cold creeping down the back of my neck.

I loved how resourceful and proactive the lass was (the main character is simply called the "lass" or "pika" because she is one of nine children, and her mother refused to name yet another "worthless" girl). She wasn’t waiting to be rescued, or for someone else to produce answers to the deep mysteries she encountered. She went out and searched for them herself.

The lass's brother, Hans Peter, is especially likable. I found myself wanting a prequel to this story so I could know every detail of what happened when he was . . . well, I better not give any spoilers! But Hans Peter is a very compelling character who quickly drew me in. I was thrilled that he was more a part of the story than I originally thought he would be.

I also loved the detail that was woven into the book without interrupting the flow of a scene. I felt like I knew every inch of that ice castle, down to the very last carving in the great hall. And that’s another thing: the carvings. Wow. You would think the author was a master craftsman or something, the way she described the various carvings throughout the castle. I wished I could go see the place for myself—live there, in fact—if it weren’t for all the weird things going on.

Even in the most perilous of situations, there was often humor to be found. It takes a lot of talent to pull that off without having it seem forced, and Jessica Day George is a master at it.

Market: Young Adult

Language: Mild
Sensuality: Mild
Violence: Mild
Mature Themes: Love, sorrow, servitude. And the setting is a bit frightening - a stranger sleeps in her bed every night, and she's forced to live in a mysterious castle for a year. But as it's portrayed, I would easily let my middle grade daughter read it.

Book formats:
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow (hardcover)
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow (paperback)

To learn more about the author and her other Middle Grade and Young Adult novels, visit: Jessica Day George


Anonymous said...

Yes, but didn't you wonder if your bum would stick to the ice toilet? 'Cause after I wrote that part, I kind of snickered . . .

Amy Finnegan {} said...

Oh, yes! How could I have forgotten to put THAT into my review?

Awesome book, my friend!! :)

Anonymous said...

This is one of my very favorite books, and I read it often. I'm a huge fan of fairy-tale retellings, and I think Jessica is at the top of the awesome list!

Kim said...

Fairy tale retellings are my favorite! I haven't read this one yet--it's waiting for me on hold at the library--but I'm dying to read it! I thought the descriptions in PRINCESS OF THE MIDNIGHT BALL, also one of Jessica's books, were so vivid. I can't wait to read another of her books (actually, two more--I've got the first Dragon book on hold, too!).

Kim said...

Yay! Jessica's books finally came in at the library, and I picked them. Gonna go devour them.

Anonymous said...

I picked this up at the library yesterday and am already half-way through. Definitely one to buy for my own shelves!