Review: Ice by Sarah Beth Durst

Book Reviews


Ice by Sarah Beth Durst

Young Adult

 3 out of 5 stars (***)

When Cassie was a little girl, her grandmother told her a fairy tale about her mother, who made a deal with the Polar Bear King and was swept away to the ends of the earth. Now that Cassie is older, she knows the story was a nice way of saying her mother had died. Cassie lives with her father at an Arctic research station, is determined to become a scientist, and has no time for make-believe.Then, on her eighteenth birthday, Cassie comes face-to-face with a polar bear who speaks to her. He tells her that her mother is alive, imprisoned at the ends of the earth. And he can bring her back — if Cassie will agree to be his bride.

That is the beginning of Cassie’s own real-life fairy tale, one that sends her on an unbelievable journey across the brutal Arctic, through the Canadian boreal forest, and on the back of the North Wind to the land east of the sun and west of the moon. Before it is over, the world she knows will be swept away, and everything she holds dear will be taken from her — until she discovers the true meaning of love and family in the magical realm of Ice.

Synopsis Courtesy of

This book had me super excited from the get-go. I’ve been a fan of the little know fairy tale, “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” for many years and seeing another great retelling of the story was perfect for the early winter season. It is interwoven with elements of Beauty & the Beast, another one of my favorite fairy tales.

The setting was contemporary, an element none of the other retellings had used before. I was pleasantly surprised with Cassie’s fiery spirit, undaunted in the face of adversity, even when facing several imprisonments, treachery, an unexpected marriage, and an unwanted pregnancy. She would literally do anything to set right the wrongs of the novel. I had wished more than once that her name had not been Cassie, as it didn’t fit her personality too well.

Bear’s character had its confusing points. He was a Munasqri— a polar bear chosen to transport the souls of the dying polar bears into newborn cubs—therefore completing the circle of life. His willful, if naive romance, of Cassie to serve his purpose made me like him a little less than I should have. In his human form, he was as a polar bear without fur, ink-black skin and a shock of arctic hair, and it was not something I was expecting. The author’s description of him was so contradictory to the original story that it completely destroyed the image I had conjured in my mind throughout the first two-thirds of the book because there hadn’t been one before then.

It was an interesting read, and in comparison to other retellings of this same fairy tale, Ice felt rushed near the end. It lacked the lyricism I usually associated with polar bears, ice castles, and troll queens. It had its merits, being a new take on the tale.

If you are looking for something to read this holiday season, I suggest taking a good look at all of the other versions of  “East of the Sun, West of the Moon.”

East by Edith Pattou

-Young Adult-

(My absolute favorite.)


Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George

-Middle Grade-


East o’ the Sun, and West o’ the Moon

-Children’s Storybook-

Below are some of the beautiful illustrations from the storybook version that bring this fantastic fairytale to life every time.



Vampire Deluge: Surviving the YA section


I recently came across this vlog from a friend of mine and it is an honest (if swearing-laced) view of the YA section at her local bookstore. She comments on the literal deluge of vampire books in the teen market.

Note: This video contains slight cursing.

Do you think the YA market should move on to a new topic of interest? Is everyone through with the Twilight-copycats yet?

Fairy Tale Re-tellings: Overdone or just what YA needs?

Book Reviews

Shelves at bookstores are chock-full of vampire stories and werewolf sagas and chicklit with various pieces of candy on their covers. A beloved, yet overlooked genre of books that has gotten little attention are Fairy Tale Re-tellings.

“East” by Edith Pattou is one of my favorites in this genre, based on the fairy tale “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” with a little bit of “Beauty and the Beast” and the legend of “Cupid and Psyche” mixed in.

However, there are so many fairy tale re-tellings out there especially in YA fiction, has it become overdone that readers are overlooking them?

Beastly by Alex Flinn is a retelling of…you guessed it…Beauty and the Beast.

There are so many retellings of Beauty and the Beast, but there are other refreshing retellings that have been making their way into libraries and bookstores like “Goose Girl” by Shannon Hale and “Princess of the Midnight Ball” by Jessica Day George.

What do you think? Is this a genre that is deservedly overlooked because it is done so often?

Or is it just what YA needs amidst the deluge of “Twilight” copycats?