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batcave

Because I'm Batman

Ice - Sarah Beth Durst It's been a while since I read an "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" retelling. Based on the synopsis and other reviews, I was cautiously optimistic. I also picked this up because I loved the cover art.

Characters: Cassie is a generally likable protagonist. She's grown up at a research station on the ice and, thus, enjoyed a less than standard upbringing. Her mother is dead, her father is emotionally distant, and she dreams of one day heading her own station, tracking and studying polar bears. She is resourceful, capable and prides herself on her rational, logical mind. Which makes it fun to see Bear toss logic out the window. Bear is different, to say the least; he comes across as, if not centuries old, otherworldly, steeped in magic. The other munaqsri vary from down to earth to vaguely paying attention to downright selfish. The Trolls, the little I saw of them, were appropriately unsettling, but I think the author could have upped the horror factor with better results. I also wish I'd seen more of Cassie's "family" at the research station. They seemed like fun and interesting folk, but their snapshot appearances were too short to know much.

Romance: Cassie and her husband, Bear. It's a special relationship, to say the least (and could also be kind of creepy if you stop and think about it too hard). Despite being technically married (to a polar bear), after setting some boundaries (cue ax scene), Cassie and Bear become friends, partners, and eventually more. For the most part, the romance is slow and sweet, nothing graphic or too rushed.

Plot: Really intriguing reasoning and world building for why Bear is the way he is, why he made the deal involving the marriage in the first place, why he continues to pursue it, etc. The idea of the munaqsri was pretty cool, and its effect on the journey made sense. However, in general, the portions of the story featuring Cassie and Bear together had better speed and transitions and were more enjoyable than those wherein Cassie was alone trying to survive/escape. Though I understand its purpose in the course of the plot, I could have done without the pregnancy, and Cassie's being trapped (for nearly a year) in Father Forest's cottage was a particular low point for me, pace- and plot-wise. She does all these smart survival things, makes it to the mainland, and walks into a prison full of drugs. The lead-up to and the distraction allowing her escape also didn't work well for me. My only other complaint might be that, at times, several characters exhibited what I found to be odd reasoning and/or a strange moodiness.

Writing: Overall, I was pleased with the writing style -- limited third person Point of view, past tense, and good descriptions.

Conclusion: Here, I was a little disappointed. There turned out to be one solution to everyone's problems, and it was, not so simple, but simple enough that I wondered no one had figured it out before. More importantly, though, was the sheer drop of an ending. It ran something along the lines of, "Oh, solution! Happiness! Everything's going to be okay now. End scene/book." I understand that everything will be fine again, but I still would have liked some winding down after that climax followed by an immediate end.

Final Thoughts: Despite my displeasure with certain portions of the plot and the abrupt ending, I did enjoy this story. It was an interesting and well done take on an old fairy tale. I would probably read further fairy tale retellings from this author, though preferably without the pregnancy. ;)