Blurb from Goodreads
Rose is an unusual child, a North Child. For Rose was born facing north, and the old stories say she is destined to travel far from home on a dangerous journey. Making a pact with an enormous white bear, Rose travels on his back to a mysterious castle that holds a dark enchantment, a darker temptation, and the key to her true destiny…
A beautiful, epic story of destiny, magic and love, North Child will take you on an unforgettable adventure.
This book… oh I was utterly transfixed by it. I felt like a child again while reading. I lost myself in lands of ice and snow, magical white bears and troll queens… I loved every second.
North Child (I believe formally titled East or at least called that in other parts of the world) is a gorgeous traditional retelling of the Norwegian fairytale East of the Sun and West of the Moon. It tells the tale of Rose and her fated quest to rescue the White Bear Prince.
Rose’s mother had many superstitions and one of those was that she did not wish to give birth to a child who was born facing North. This was due to two facts; (1) north born children tend to go their own way so to speak and (2) Rose’s mother had been given a prophecy that if she were to give birth to a North born child this child would be lost to her under an avalanche of snow and ice.
So Rose’s mother intended to face East as she was giving birth… And well good intentions and all that but life intervened and Rose was North born but her mother hid this from her and proclaimed her to be East born.
This led to a childhood of incongruity as Rose always seemed to be an explorer befitting of the characteristics of North born rather than the more docile traits of an East born. So when ultimately Rose discovered the truth of her birth it led her to leaving her family home and all that she knew…
What followed was nothing short of fantastical fairytale perfection.
Seemingly magical castles with enchanted white bears and a quest to rescue a prince. With a host of memorable characters along the way; drunken sailors, a wise and kind shaman, wicked trolls, good trolls, human slaves. Lots of talk of superstitions, curses, fulfilling destiny and the dawning realisation of love… And all these interesting little threads of storytelling were pulled together in a most harmonious fashion and set in the most gorgeously atmospheric setting.
I really enjoyed how the story was told from multiple points of view. For me it added to the whole mystery of how the plot would unfurl. Rose’s PoV was the primary one but the added input from the Troll Queen, the White Bear, Rose’s devoted father and Rose’s brother Neddy really helped to make this story sing.
By including these other points of view the whole mythology and background to the story was really developed. In particular I enjoyed the viewpoints of Rose’s father and brother as these really helped to give a sense of strong family and showed the nuances of family life… especially regarding how the guilt of hiding Rose’s true identity from her and thusly losing their daughter affected Rose’s mother and father in different ways.
To me this story had elements of The Snow Queen, Beauty and the Beast… No doubt this fairytale probably predates both. So for me this book transported me right back to my childhood and reading similar fairytale and adventure quest style stories. I just felt like the happiest little kid while reading this book. It was just so beautifully simplistic yet quietly lyrical. An utterly charming book with the most wonderful story to get lost in.