I first read this book while in senior school, and not just once, but many times. I borrowed it from my school library, and I must have been the one that filled the requests page with the many dates it had on the front page (I think I must have taken it out at least 6 times during my time at school).
I don't know what first made me like the book, maybe it was the cover, as I thought, hey, why is there a girl walking next to a polar bear? Maybe it was the description. Like I said, I don't know, but all I do know is that when I read it, I loved it, and hence, I took it from my school library so many times.
Then, passing a few years, I watch a TV show and it reminds me of the book I loved so much in school, so I immediately went to Amazon and bought this much loved book so I could read it again!
Well, here it is:
Superstition says that children born facing North will travel far from home, and Rose's mother is terrified that Rose, a North child, will face a lonely, icy death if she follows her destiny. But Rose is unaware of this, so when an enormous white bear appears and wants to take her away she agrees to his bargain.
Rose travels on the bear's back to a mysterious castle where a silent stranger appears to her night after night. Overwhelmed by curiosity, Rose does something that has terrible consequences. Now she must embark on an epic journey to save the one she loves and fulfil her true destiny.
So, this book starts with Rose, an eighth child, who was born facing North. Her mother though, refuses to admit that and instead insists she is an East child, because of a prophecy that she was given when younger that said that any North child she had would grow up to die a cold, horrible death, suffocating under ice and snow. As you can probably tell, Rose later finds out the truth and in rebellion she decides to go with the White Bear when he comes calling and offers a bargain to help stop the misfortune that has befallen Rose's family.
That is just the beginning of the book, as it is actually split into 4 different parts: East, South, West and North. I think this comes in handy for someone who only likes to read in small parts, as they could easily read just one part of the book and then come back later to the other parts if needed.
I did say I had no idea what drew me in to this book, but I must admit, usually it is the covers of books that catch my interest and then the blurb. This book's cover not only intrigued me with the girl and the white bear on the front, but the compass is beautiful on the front too.
And well, the blurb also mentions that this book is familiar to Beauty and the Beast, and as you'd expect, that made me all the more interested.
I admit, it actually does remind me a bit of Beauty and the Beast, with the fact that Rose was chosen to try and end an enchantment that was put upon the White Bear by the Troll Queen's father as a punishment. However, it differs slightly as Rose ends up sleeping next to an unknown person at night in the castle, and as the lights are enchanted to go out whenever the person enters the room she is unable to find out who it is. In fact, this book is based on a Scandinavian folk tale called East of the Sun and West of the Moon.
The main thing I think I adore about this book is the love that Rose feels for the White Bear, which makes her choose to go on a most difficult journey North to follow him and save him from another character, the Troll Queen. On this journey North, Rose meets many different people, including a drunk Viking (one of my favourite characters), and a settlement of Inuits.
This is a book that shows a girls journey to find herself, and also offers a tale of love and shows just what that girl would do to keep the love of a creature who is more of a beast than a man, and that is what had me reading this book over and over.
Have you read this book and if so what do you think of it?