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Check out my interview with Michelle Diener from earlier this year when MISTRESS OF THE WIND launched!
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East of the Sun and West of the Moon has always been one of my all-time favorite fairy tales. (Disney, if you're listening and you're still on this GIRLS KICK BUTT trend, animate this one!!!) A couple of years ago I featured a few different retellings of the tale. As soon as I heard about MISTRESS OF THE WIND by Michelle Diener, I was immediately intrigued and had a severe case of grabby hands.
Bjorn made a horrible deal with his evil troll of a stepmother: If he can't find the woman who professed her undying love to him when they were children within a year, he'll marry her daughter the troll princess. If he finds her, he has another year-long task: She isn't allowed to see him in his human form for an entire year. Bjorn succeeds in the first half of his task when he finds Astrid, but she's no docile, biddable woman. Instead, she's inquisitive and headstrong. She goes with Bjorn to save her family from poverty, but is determined to learn the truth behind his enchantment despite all his warnings. When she bravely looks upon him in the night (It's a very Cupid and Psyche moment), she dooms them all... Until she takes it upon herself to go east of the sun and west of the moon beyond the ends of the earth to save him.
MISTRESS OF THE WIND is a very traditional retelling of East of the Sun and West of the Moon while still incorporating enough new elements to keep readers on their toes. The interaction between Astrid and the four winds is done in an innovative way that adds an extra layer to the tale, and makes her even more of a match for the powerful Bjorn. At times, Astrid was beyond headstrong and I wanted to smack her over the head, but she was also fiesty and independent, which I really appreciated. Bjorn could be too self-assured at times, but the fact that readers could see his struggles really humanized and endeared him to me.
What's funny is that it's been so long since I read the original tale, I thought original ideas from Sarah Beth Durst's ICE where the heroine was pregnant were from the original tale. I kept waiting and waiting to see that aspect of the story surface (Especially since, y'know, the novel was categorized as adult, though the scenes themselves are very fade-to-black and softer than a lot of scenes I've read in actual teen novels, making the novel acceptable for upper-YA readers). It never did, of course, and when I rechecked the story, it was never in the original anyway. Silly me! It doesn't need to be, though; it was just my screwed-up head expecting it there. I was still highly satisfied with the new spin that Diener gave the tale.
If you're a fan of East of the Sun and West of the Moon (or even if the tale is new to you), MISTRESS OF THE WIND is a new adaptation with something extra to offer that makes for a compelling read.