Bonnie's Reviews > Ice

Ice by Sarah Beth Durst
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May 23, 2012

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bookshelves: young-adult, fairy-tales, 2009-books, ya-fantasy-sci-fi
Read in February, 2015

One of the many YA retellings of "East of the Sun, West of the Moon."

In this version, Cassie helps her father out at his Arctic Research center. When Cassie's grandmother used to live with them at the Arctic Research Center, she would tell Cassie about the Daughter of the North Wind who was promised to the Polar Bear king, but fell in love with a human man. The North Wind’s Daughter promised the Polar Bear King her daughter as a bride, if he agreed to hide them from the anger of the North Wind. The Polar Bear King did, but the North Wind found them anyway, and whisked his daughter away to be held captive by the trolls.

Clearly, this Daughter of the North Wind was Cassie’s mother. Cassie grows up and decides this is just a nice myth to explain her mother’s disappearance/death. Of course, it’s all real, and the Polar Bear King comes for Cassie. She agrees to marry him in exchange for freeing her mother. This poor Bear will take any bargain he's given– and he doesn’t even try to enforce the terms. He's a bit of a sap, really.

The Polar Bear King is a munaqsri – a guardian who protects the souls of the species he is chosen to oversee, shepherding them into life and into death. Cassie at first doesn’t want to marry a talking polar bear and give up her intended life of arctic research. She eventually comes around, only to have the Polar Bear King “fix” her hormonal imbalance caused by birth control and impregnate her. She’s understandably pissed and decides to look at him while he’s in his human form in the dark. Of course, due to another poor bargain that was made,the Polar Bear King has to now go live with the troll princess. Stop making so many stupid bargains, Polar Bear King!

The second half of the book is Cassie trying to rescue the Polar Bear King, which is 99% having to deal with munasqri who refuse to be helpful, and who care more about the munasqri fetus she’s carrying than her.

It is hard to root for a romance that begins with a captive bride, then steers into the love interest impregnating the heroine against her will. "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" is about a girl willing to go the ends of the earth and beyond for her love. But if I was Cassie, I would have seriously considered letting the troll princess have the Polar Bear King and used my resources to get back to civilization. And being really, really angry at my mom for agreeing to sell me into marital slavery before I was born.
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12/21/2015 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Susan (new)

Susan Does Cassie magically fall in love with the Polar Bear King when she sees his hawt human form? I would prefer the instalove over the curious mix of bestiality and Stockholm Syndrome that otherwise seems to be happening.

I remember both of us being uncomfortable with Grace falling in love with Sam as a wolf in Shiver, but falling in love with a polar bear seems even more disturbing.


Bonnie I don't quite remember when Cassie falls in love with the Polar Bear King. I know she loves his devotion to his people from the beginning and his pro-environment, pro-earth creature's stance/life mission. I don't remember thinking it was particularly on the bestiality spectrum for an East of the Sun retelling...

But, yes, Grace falling in love with a wolf and anyone falling in love with a polar bear is just weird...


message 3: by Susan (new)

Susan So true. And good for Durst that she had some other things going on to explain the love connection.


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