by Edith Pattou
Orlando : Magic Carpet Books, 2005.
Ebba Rose was the youngest in a large family. Her brother, Neddy, looks after her and she drives her mother, Eugenia, to distraction because, like a north-born child, Rose can't help wandering. Then her sister Sara becomes sick, and a strange, sentient white bear offers to make her well if Rose comes with him.
This is a retelling of the Norwegian fairy tale, "East of the Sun, West of the Moon," a tale with which I was completely unfamiliar before reading Pattou's re-imagination of it. The locations such as Njord and Fransk, sounding familiar yet strange, and the existence of a White Bear and Troll Queen as narrators along with Rose, Neddy, and their father, blend reality and fantasy giving the story a surreal atmosphere. Somewhere in the reading, I stopped worrying about it so much and the narrative began to click for me. I wish that Rose's and the White Bear's relationship was explored a bit more; their camaraderie seems suddenly strong to me. Now, however, I have to go look up the original tale.