{Review} MISTRESS OF THE WIND by Michelle Diener

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Check out my interview with Michelle Diener from earlier this year when MISTRESS OF THE WIND launched!

And stop back later this week for a brand-new interview with Michelle! ^.~

O P E N I N G   H O O K:

    Bjorn ran along a path of his own making, between the thinning trees at the top of the mountain.     Sometimes, when he was so exhausted he lost himself, his existence was running. Was watching the ground flash beneath him, hypnotized by it.
    Tonight, though, he looked forward and up. Time was running out for him. He could feel it slipping like snow off pine branches. It held, and it held, and then suddenly, in a hiss, it gave.
    He could no longer afford the luxury of wariness. There would be no rest until this was over, and if he didn't find the girl, there would never be any rest.
    Unless he was dead.

(Page 5, US e-book edition)

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.
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

The cover tells you so much, and yet so little. It's got the required polar bear on the cover, and it hints at something more as it adds in the element of the magical wind so integral to the tale. I especially like the way the wind is swirling around the bear's muzzle as he roars. It adds an extra element to the design.

Plus, it's purple. You know how I love my purple!
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Michelle Diener
Release Date: Dec. 19, 2013
Publisher: Michelle Diener
Received: For Review

Bjorn needs to find a very special woman . . . 

The fate of his people, and his own life, depends on it. But when he does find her, she is nothing like he imagined, and may just harbor more secrets than he does himself. 

Astrid has never taken well to commands. No matter who issues them . . . 

She's clashed her whole life with her father, and now her lover, the mysterious man who comes to her bedroom in darkness and disappears to guard his mountain by day as a bear, is finding it out the hard way. And when he's taken by his enemies, no one is prepared for Astrid's response. 

It is never wise to anger the mistress of the wind . . . 

A captivating and magical adult retelling of the fairy tale East of the Sun, West of the Moon.