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Ice


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cold and Beautiful
I love retellings of fairy tales, and this one's a honey. It would have to be frozen honey, though--there's more snow in this book than you'll find anywhere but in a biography of Admiral Peary. Durst has taken the Scandinavian Beauty and the Beast story, "East of the Sun and West of the Moon," and set it in the present day, giving us a girl who lives on an Arctic research...
Published on December 5, 2009 by Kate Coombs

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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Odd and Uncomfortable
I had very high hopes for this book. I've read a few East of the Sun, West of the Moon retellings in the past few years (my favorite is Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow, but the illustrated East of the Sun and West of the Moon will always have a soft spot in my heart) and have been on the look out for more.

That being said, the best thing about this book is the...
Published on April 23, 2011 by Rahmi


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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Odd and Uncomfortable, April 23, 2011
This review is from: Ice (Paperback)
I had very high hopes for this book. I've read a few East of the Sun, West of the Moon retellings in the past few years (my favorite is Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow, but the illustrated East of the Sun and West of the Moon will always have a soft spot in my heart) and have been on the look out for more.

That being said, the best thing about this book is the cover.

The main characters, Cassie and Bear, are relentlessly unlikeable to me. Cassie goes into a deal expecting to get, essentially, something for nothing, as she can just nullify it and Bear has to keep his end of the bargain. This did not endear her to me. Bear does something in the first hundred pages that made me want to fling the book across the room (here's a hint, Bear: if a woman says she doesn't want to have children, you do not mess with her birth control so she ends up pregnant anyway). Granted, this could be put down as a misunderstanding on Bear's part, but it still made me cringe.

The relationship between Bear and Cassie is odd to put it mildly. He's a polar bear; there's an indication, early on, that he hasn't always been a polar bear and only assumed the form when he became a munaqsri, but that is still several centuries of life as a bear and it shows. The seal eating scene is particularly telling, in my opinion.

Cassie falls in love with this bear and sleeps with him (while he's human), which results in the aforementioned unwanted pregnancy. We're told that they have long conversations and that Bear created a statue of her in his ice garden, but we're rarely shown anything about the relationship; it's all Cassie musing about months that have gone by. It's hard to believe this relationship when we're barely shown it at all. Why is Cassie willing to go to the ends of the earth for Bear?

I thought the background of the book was an interesting concept, but I don't think the characters were strong enough to carry it through. I found myself skimming Cassie's journey (argueably the best part of the East o' the Sun mythology) because it dragged. I was thoroughly uncomfortable reading about both Cassie's and the munaqsri's reactions to her pregnancy, as well as the violations of Cassie's right to her own decisions about her body and actions.

And, frankly, I could have done without the scene where she suckled from a polar bear or the scene where she urinated on herself while being held captive.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cold and Beautiful, December 5, 2009
By 
Kate Coombs (Utah, United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ice (Hardcover)
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I love retellings of fairy tales, and this one's a honey. It would have to be frozen honey, though--there's more snow in this book than you'll find anywhere but in a biography of Admiral Peary. Durst has taken the Scandinavian Beauty and the Beast story, "East of the Sun and West of the Moon," and set it in the present day, giving us a girl who lives on an Arctic research station with her gruff father and his assistants.

Being a young scientist, Cassie is far from being inclined to believe in magic, though when she was little her grandmother used to tell her a seemingly fanciful story about how her missing mother was the adopted daughter of the North Wind, stolen by trolls after having bargained Cassie away to a magical bear.

Cassie thinks her father doesn't believe in fairy tales, either, but when she meets the Polar Bear King, her father panics. She realizes that her father has lied, and her grandmother's story is true. The bear returns, convincing Cassie to accompany him to his icy palace. There she learns to enjoy his company, eventually falling in love with him. (It helps that he takes the form of a man by night.)

But each will yet betray the other. In time Cassie wins her mother back, but at the price of her beloved. Now she must journey to the ends of the earth, fighting enemies with snarling faces, with smiling faces, and without any faces at all.

The author keeps the bones of the original tale, but uses them to build a new mythology linked to Inuit-type animal gods who preside over birthing and survival.

The original folktale, "East of the Sun and West of the Moon," is a story about being willing to do anything for the sake of love. Durst's retelling amplifies that feeling, with the stakes raised because her Cassie is going to have a baby.

Durst has a gift for communicating her cold setting to the reader:

"By evening, the sun was to her right. Ice crystals sparkled in a halo around the sun and in gold sheets around Cassie. The powdery mist cut visibility even more. She forced herself to concentrate on the ice in front of her. But even with all her concentration, she stumbled over invisible frozen waves. She had no depth perception in the glare of infinite whiteness. Her remaining eyelashes were icicles, framing her view of the world. Her nostril hairs had also frozen. She exhaled through her nose to keep it warmer. Her Gore-Tex pants rustled as she stumbled along. It was the only sound in the emptiness besides the huffing of the bears."

In the Arctic wilderness, Cassie encounters not only the dangers of ice and cold, but also creatures who could easily kill her. This heroine uses her knowledge of survival as well as relying on magical allies and trickster strategies to accomplish her goal of retrieving her shape-shifting mate.

It isn't easy to combine fairy tale elements with modern science, but the author makes it work, leading us smoothly through two overlapping worlds. For example, each chapter begins with latitude, longitude, and altitude. And animals such as the polar bears, while linked to the magic of their king, otherwise behave like ordinary wild creatures.

I was curious to see how the author would handle the trolls, but I should have guessed that her story's resolution would contain an intriguing twist, rounding out the unusual and moving new vision that Durst has created in Ice.

Note for Worried Parents: There's some discreetly handled sex in this book for teens, along with talk about birth control, pregnancy, and birth.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful cover...but..., December 1, 2010
This review is from: Ice (Paperback)
Sarah Beth Durst's Into the Wild proved to be an engrossing and unique story formed from the melding of several fairy tales, so when I heard that she had a new book coming out - or, let me rephrase this: when I saw the cover of Ice (which is beautiful) I readily picked it up, though the fact that it takes on a fairy tale I enjoy, East O' the Sun, West O' the Moon, minus the beautiful cover, would have had me reading it anyway.

This version of the familiar fairy tale offers a nice twist by being set in the Arctic during current times. The protagonist, Cassie, is the daughter of a scientist and has her heart set on tracking polar bears. Her mother (and this isn't a spoiler) is the daughter of the North Wind, which is actually the catalyst that gets this story moving. Eventually, a polar bear shows up, a deal is made, and Cassie ends up married to what would be (in the original story) the polar bear king/prince (depending on what version you read).

That isn't the case in this story. Yes, she marries the polar bear...but...he was never a prince...or a king, for that matter. Or human. He's a munaqsri, a bearer of souls, and to be more exact, he's not even a polar bear. That's just the shape he chose to take. I admit to having a problem with this. It is quite odd and is even stranger on paper. Sarah Beth Durst really does succeed in making this story her own and giving the old tale a fresh, new feel (and kudos to her for this), but the feel isn't a good one. And, call me old-fashioned, but I would have preferred that the polar bear was human at one point, and I can explain this a little bit further.

Let's put it this way. You're spirited away by a mystical, talking polar bear in the Arctic, make a deal (important note: you do this in order to get your rumored-dead mother, whom you have never met, back home), and marry him (part of the deal). He doesn't have a name; you simply call him Bear. And...when he eats, he spills blood everywhere (something the author describes in some detail). At this point, you (yes, you), might feel a bit of disgust...perhaps even a mix of revulsion, fear, maybe some hatred (just brainstorming)...Cassie, on the other hand, chooses to wipe the blood from his mouth, all the while feeling a sense of...tenderness and perhaps even a tinge of attraction. Is that not weird, not to mention disgusting? She starts off with these arguments and the normal this-is-not-going-to-happen, this-was-just-a-deal business and caves fast. Next thing you know, she's wham-bam in love with this polar bear (who was never human to begin with) which is confusing. They have the most inane conversations, their time together is rather short-lived, and during this time, it is difficult to take this character's feelings seriously, especially when Bear is cold, very inhuman (in more ways than just his physical form), and completely and utterly unattractive.

Which brings me back to the point I was trying to make earlier (sorry for veering off topic). It is really, really hard to humanize Bear. Or identify with Cassie's attraction...or their relationship. Their conversations are boring and annoying (there's no other way to put it). I also did not take much of a shine to Cassie. She's just not likable, especially when she starts whining about her parents keeping secrets for so long and making excuses for not going back to see her mother because she never really knew her, etc. She's an excuse maker and just comes off as immature. What is confusing is that she gives up everything to free her mother...yet, her thoughts and feelings toward this woman are cruel and cold. This made me wonder what her motives really were when she accepted Bear's offer. Unlike other characters' insistence that she was brave and unselfish, I felt the case was the opposite. She was actually self-serving, ignorant (not brave), disobedient, disrespectful, not understanding at all, and cold. It's hard to see what's so great about Bear; it's even harder to see what's so wonderful about the main character.

The parts where Cassie and Bear were separated, while boring and slow, were more enjoyable for me because their interactions were no longer taking place. I took this as a welcome reprieve. And I realize, if either...or both characters had perished....I wouldn't have minded. This is how little I enjoyed this read.

Now, let's get to Bear's name, or lack thereof. It's Bear. Another thing that is odd. It dehumanizes him even more than he already is. He's already a polar bear. And though he takes the form of a man at night, he has never been human. As it is, he has few humanlike attributes that made me able to sympathize with anything he was going through. He laughs at dumb things (as does Cassie; she has a dumb sense of humor) and has more...inane conversations with her...but he's so hard to reach as a character. He's distant. It almost makes him untrustworthy, and even more so when he speaks with Cassie about their relationship. (And yes, after such a weird and creepy conversation about their relationship, she still wants him) Even thinking of the original story, I miss the fact that the polar bear is actually a prince who has been cursed, which adds at least something (maybe giving the character an intense longing for what he's lost). Other than a few humanlike characteristics, Bear is just a creature named Bear. It is all-too obvious that he was never and will never be human. And the few human-like characteristics present aren't strong or great enough to make him a real fleshed-out, extraordinary character. Instead, he comes off as very distant and almost alien. I also hated the munaqsri part of this whole story. If Bear doesn't deliver souls to those bringing life into the world in time, they're basically stillborn (? I'm supposed to enjoy this???). While this does add a little side-plot to the story, it is boring and dumb. Maybe I'm being too picky, but this part of the story lessened my enjoyment even more, which wasn't too high from the beginning of the story, partly due to Cassie herself and partly due to the writing. It's juvenile, simplistic, and hardly as detailed as is required for such a tale. It also could not keep my attention.

I picked this book up to find a fresh, new take on a story I love. I did find a fresh, new take but there was no enjoyment involved. The things I really cherish in a story (characters I love and sympathize with, enjoyable conversations, good character development, a well-fleshed plot, and unique fantasy elements) were completely missing. Can't put it any other way than this: I do not like this book. Into the Wild was excellent and imaginative, which is another reason I gave this story a chance. Some of you may want this for the more fantastical elements (they're not that great). Some of you may be interested in some romance (it's even worse). I recommend passing this one up.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars One weird read, July 23, 2010
This review is from: Ice (Hardcover)
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I greatly enjoyed Sarah Beth Durst's MG novels, INTO THE WILD and OUT OF THE WILD. They're such fun and well-written and just go read them; you probably won't regret it. But ICE? Not so much.

I really wanted to like ICE. I did. For one thing, it's really nice to see an older teen as a protagonist in YA fiction. Also, the cover is beautiful, and I appreciated the science-minded heroine. Really, the setting is fantastic. It's set in the Arctic, where Cassie lives with her father, a researcher in a station. It's such a different setting for a fairy tale retelling. (In this case, it's EAST OF THE SUN, WEST OF THE MOON, which, I'll admit, is not one of my favorites.) But I think that's like the only positives I can say about this book. Besides that I liked Durst's trolls. I thought that was clever.

Basically, EAST OF THE SUN, WEST OF THE MOON is about this polar bear who takes this girl to be his wife, but every night, he climbs into her bed as a human, and he tells her that she cannot once see his face. The girl being curious disobeys, and then trolls come and take away the polar bear, and the girl has to go rescue him. Same deal with ICE. (Yay for fairy tales in which the female character actually does have to do some saving-the-day in the original story.)

And honestly, I had a hard time believing a modern-day young woman would fall in love with a talking polar bear. It just didn't sit right with me, and even if I tell myself that it's just a fairy tale and just an enchantment and he's not really a polar bear, but it just doesn't work. It creeped me out. The book also seemed to end somewhat suddenly, the climax just happening and then - last page. I would have liked more winding down. Also, I felt like Durst's writing was too simplistic for her audience. Her sentences didn't flow right. Add this into all the novel's weirdness and...it wasn't a good combination.

Like I said, I highly recommend INTO THE WILD and OUT OF THE WILD, but ICE? If you want to read it, I suggest the library.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars First half great, second half drags a bit, November 12, 2010
By 
Marysia (San Diego, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Ice (Paperback)
The Norwegian "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" is one of my favorite folktales, so I dove eagerly into yet another modern retelling, Ice by Sarah Beth Durst. For those unfamiliar with the story, think Scandinavian Beauty and the Beast with the beast as a polar bear, the heroine first betraying a promise to her husband and then searching for her him the way Psyche searched for Eros, trolls and a rival bride in the mix. Sarah Beth Durst sets her book in present-day North America rather than Norway, and draws on Inuit folklore to make her Bear one of the spirit guardians of a given species (in his case, polar bears).

Things I loved about Ice:

The mix of Scandinavian and Inuit folklore is unique and gels surprisingly well. Being a fan of traditional stories, I actually wasn't keen on a modern twist, but Sarah Beth Durst makes it work by giving heroine Cassie a modern sense of humor. Her dry sarcasm lightens the tone on many occasions and sometimes even made me laugh out loud when I imagined myself reacting the same way in Cassie's predicament. Themes of growing love, trust, betrayal, family loyalty, disappointment in parents' shortcomings, and the shouldering of responsibility knit the book together. The environmental message about dying species was very relevant to our time. It was interesting to see Cassie grow from reluctantly pregnant young woman to devoted mother. Durst's retelling does the best job of developing the romance between heroine and bear/man, which is skimmed over in other retellings I've encountered. Her take on trolls was also unique and intriguing.

Things that didn't work:

The constant GPS headings serve no purpose, especially for those of us who can't tell where we are just by reading latitudes and longitudes. Part Two, the journey, drags on and on. I realize the heroine's search for her missing prince is an integral part of the story, but I don't know why every author stretches it out to over half the book. In the original folktale the journey is episodic and magical rather than tedious and really doesn't take that long. (In fact, it makes more sense to have a quick journey, or why else did the troll princess wait so long to marry the man?) Cassie hikes around forever doing very reckless things and getting seriously injured despite her supposed training in wilderness survival. The supernatural Father Forest was an interesting character the first time he popped up, but we didn't need him imprisoning Cassie for five chapters except as a contrived plot device so that her pregnancy had time to advance.

Unresolved questions and things that don't sit right with me:

We never see a resolution between Cassie and her family, including her long-lost mother. Why were all the winds present except the West Wind? Why did the North Wind want a human daughter in the first place? This was never explained or even hinted at. Finally, in the original folktale the prince is transformed into a bear by the troll queen, who wants him to marry her daughter. By making her Bear a 'munaqsri' (spirit guardian), Sarah Beth Durst makes him a supernatural being able to change shape at will, thereby eliminating the mandatory enchantment. In the first half, Cassie can see Bear only in bear form. This is in keeping with the original story. But as it turns out, he stays in bear shape for most of the book, and we get no indication that he will change into a man for Cassie any more often than is necessary for their marital bliss. Cuddly and cute? Yes. Romantic? No. Would any modern woman want a husband who was a bear 90% of the time and man only at night? I know I wouldn't. It's not quite bestiality, but it comes a lot closer to it than the original folktale in which it's understood that the prince has been and will be a man.

Ice is an interesting and unique entry in the canon of retold fairy tales for young adults. It is certainly worth a read, but there are better retellings of this story. If you liked this book or like the folktale it's based on, Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George is more authentic, and Edith Pattou's East is the best rendition so far. Other retellings include:

1. Once Upon a Winter's Night by Dennis L. McKiernan--the worst of the bunch
2. East by Edith Pattou--the best of the bunch
3. Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George--faithful to the source, better than Ice
4. Eponymous short story in Enchanted by Nancy Madore (adult fare)
5. "The Dancing Bears" by W.S. Merwin--a poem in the collection
6. The Polar Bear King--B-grade Norwegian movie from the 90's; terrible or awesome depending on how much you enjoy bad movies. To be a complete stickler for accuracy, it's actually a retelling of "White Bear King Valemon," a variant in which the heroine is a princess rather than a commoner, has three children with the dude, and the dude must marry the troll-hag rather than her daughter.
7. "The Snow Queen" by Hans Christian Andersen--technically counts as his unique spin
8. The Snow Queen by Mercedes Lackey--draws upon specific elements in the "East of the Sun..." folktale
9. Northern Lights/The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman--features elements from the folktale
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good - But..., February 6, 2010
By 
Parajunkee (Jefferson, LA, United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Ice (Hardcover)
Quickie POV: A modern day fairy tale involving a highly driven, eighteen year old that has lived entirely too long in the Arctic and a talking polar bear that has laid claim to her since before she was even born - I went into this book a little skeptical and was not altogether won over. The book was charming though and I really enjoyed the first part, but when we got into the quest part of the book I began skimming. Worth the read though, if only for the ending, for like all girls, I'm a sucker for fairy tale endings.

Review: Cassie has been told only one fairy tale all her life, that of the polar bear and the daughter of the North Wind. A story of a child stolen by a polar bear for the North Wind and raised as their own, the price that she should marry the polar bear when she was of age. But the polar bear would not have an unwilling wife, so when the daughter of the North Wind falls for a human explorer the polar bear relinquishes his hold on the North Wind's daughter, but only with her promise that any girl child of her and the human's union shall one day marry the polar bear. The woman had to hide from her father though, because he was a very angry wind and he wouldn't allow his daughter to marry the man. The polar bear helped her hide with her love - and they hid until their first child was born, a girl child. The birth was noticed by the wind. Enraged North Wind swept down on his daughter and swept her away in his anger. He was so angry he swept her far far away and threw her down, where trolls found her and imprisoned her. You can guess who this girl child is right?

On Cassie's 18th birthday she rushes out into the Arctic night to confront her destiny head on, because she really doesn't believe it is true. Yet, faced with an actual talking polar bear, Cassie realizes the fairy tales are true and her mother is being held by trolls instead of being dead as her father had her believe. She agrees to marry Bear if he will secure the release of her mother.

An unwilling wife, Cassie vows to leave Bear at the first possible moment, but day leads to the next and she finds that she is content in the castle with Bear and even might be happy with him. Yet, like all fairy tales, just as she begins to realize that she might just love her polar bear...tragedy strikes.

I do have to say this book was beyond original. A love between a polar bear and an feisty red-head. I enjoyed reading of the Arctic world and the castle of ice that was Bear's home. The idea that was Bear was so very spectacular that I was taken by the idea and really enjoyed the story behind it. The writing was very romantic, the characters were wonderful and charming. I really liked Bear and Cassie.

My dislike of the book was in the second part during Cassie's great quest. At this point Cassie became very tiring on me. I felt the entirety of quest was her throwing temper tantrums from one creature to the next, either holding different beings hostage by blackmail or threatening. It was all very tiring and I found myself skimming through her long winded jump from one creature to the next, only slowing down when she finally ran into Jamie and manages to confront her grandfather.

Recommendation: This might be a little too light-hearted for some adults, I recommend this to teens 15+ and fairy tale loving adults. The polar bear love is sometimes a little strange to wrap your mind around.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Full of Love, fear, magic, and triumph. Fantastic Read!, October 4, 2009
This review is from: Ice (Hardcover)
As you may know, this is the latest book by the author of Into The Wild, and this one is also based on a fairy tale.

It's based on East of the Sun, West of the Moon, and when my mother saw me reading this she said(justifiably), "Is that ANOTHER book based on east of west moon sun?" And I am here to tell you: no it is not.

I haven't read EAST but I have read SUN AND MOON, ICE AND SNOW. And I'm telling you, even if you have read those, this book will keep you on your toes! Durst brings in such an interesting mix of fairy tale, folklore, culture, and... I don't want to say religion, because that's not quite what it is, but if you read it you'll understand.

This book is based in modern times, up in Alaska and the arctic. Cassie lives with her father and their team at a research station in the middle of the ice-desert. Cassie's grandmother often told Cassie the story of how her mother was promised to the Polar bear king by her father the North Wind, but then she fell in love with a human man and the Polar Bear King(love him!) agreed to protect her from the North Wind's wrath, on the condition that their first-born daughter be his wife. But North Wind found her anyway blew her to the edge of the earth to be with the trolls.

Now it's Cassie's 18th birthday, and the Polar Bear King has come for her.

Just a quick squeak: it's for a slightly older audience than Into the Wild (I'm gonna say... 14+, due to mild swearing, and married people doing what married people do).

Definitely purchase this. It's worth any cost. :)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 1st half good, 2nd half pfft., April 6, 2010
By 
This review is from: Ice (Hardcover)
I enjoy Tamora Pierce's books so when I saw that she gave a favorable comment on this book, I got really encouraged. I agree with a lot of the readers that the first half was really good. Halfway through the book, something happens and it goes way downhill from there. I honestly felt for the main character, Cassie, but then she got really irritating. She whined and actually spat at one of the characters. There were also some inconsistencies in the story and how convenient some events just occur. It seemed like the author was taking her time letting the story unfold and then suddenly wanted to rush it (the reader can tell you know). It's been a while since I've wished for the main character to die at the end. Obsessive, ungrateful girl.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, engrossing tale of impossible love and sacrifice, October 3, 2009
This review is from: Ice (Hardcover)
Make sure to break out your winter coat because you are in for one epic Arctic adventure! Sarah Beth Durst has woven a magical narrative that will sweep you away across frozen lands, complete with ice castles, blistering winds, enchanting creatures and one courageous young woman! ICE was a beautiful, engrossing tale of impossible love and sacrifice that drew me in right from the very first page.

Cassie, the eighteen year old daughter of an arctic research scientist, had long since forgotten the fairy tales told to her as a child. According to the stories spun by her grandmother, Cassie's mother was imprisoned by the trolls after making a heartbreaking deal with the polar bear king. As she grew up, Cassie begun to realize that this was a nice way of saying her mother had passed away. But when Cassie seeks out a polar bear and he does the impossible by speaking to her, it seems as if some fairy tales are grounded in reality. She strikes a bargain with him and in that moment, her life irrevocably changes forever.

Sarah Beth Durst has taken the classic tale of East of the Sun, West of the Moon and given it her own modern twist. But you don't need to be familiar with the original fairy tale to truly appreciate this novel. Durst has truly made this story her own. I loved her descriptive way of storytelling - when I was reading ICE, I could hear the roar of the North Wind blowing in my ears and feel the snow on my face, blinding me from the glare and freezing my eyelashes. I was right there alongside Cassie - heart pounding with every step of the journey ahead of me.

In an interview on Simon & Schuster's website, Sarah Beth Durst said-

"I love polar bears. I love fairy tales. And I love stories about girls who kick butt. But most of all, I wrote ICE as a love letter to my husband. It's about true love, real love, the kind where you face the world as a united team, the kind where you'd go east of the sun and west of the moon for your love."

I really feel like I can't sum up ICE any better than this quote does! If you are a fan of adventure and love stories with fairy tale elements, then you will not be disappointed with ICE. Cassie was a fierce heroine- I truly admired her. She truly sacrificed everything she had for Bear - it makes you wonder, just how far would you go for love?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A breathtaking, beautiful fairy tale retelling, November 2, 2009
By 
This review is from: Ice (Hardcover)
Cassie Dasent has always lived in the remote Arctic research station where her father is a scientist studying the movement of polar bears. She loves the cold and ice and never wants to leave, but on her eighteenth birthday, her father and grandmother try to make her do just that. But before they can whisk her off to Alaska, a gigantic speaking polar bear approaches her, luring her away toward the North Pole with tales of fairy tales and a mother who really isn't dead. Cassie is hesitant, but soon she finds herself on an amazing adventure around the top of the world, risking everything for those that she loves.

Sarah Beth Durst's novel Ice is one of the most engaging, imaginative retellings of the old fairy tale East of Sun, West of the Moon. Durst mixes breathtaking magic and wonders with modern day technology and conveniences to craft an unexpected, entertaining, and engrossing tale of love, friendship, and sacrifice that is both adventurous and romantic. Cassie is a daring, obstinate character who is hesitant at first when it comes to love, but when her true love is wrenched away from her, she confronts the obstacles facing her head on, and tirelessly works to get him back, learning the true meaning of love, both familial and romantic, in the process. Ice is as much a fairy tale as it is Cassie's coming-of-age as she balances a myth-like romance with modern day values and ideas.

Durst also employs the use of spectacular and beautiful imagery to describe the brutality and the majestic beauty of the Arctic, and even the boreal forests south of the land of ice. Her words capture the danger, the excitement, and the exhilaration of adventure and true love, making for a spectacular, unusual read you will never want to finish. I simply adored this book, and cannot wait for Durst's next one.
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Ice by Sarah Beth Durst (Paperback - October 12, 2010)
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