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Literature / East

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East by Edith Pattou (published as North Child in the UK and Australia) is a retelling of "East of the Sun and West of the Moon". Ebba (actually Nyamh) Rose, was first conceived as a replacement due to her deceased east-born older sister, Elise, but in a twist of fate ends with her being a north-born child. Her mother is upset, due to her family's beliefs about north-born people being wild and generally ill-behaved, not to mention the prophecy about any north-born child she has dying buried in snow and ice, and so decides to pretend that Rose was a east-born child in the hopes of averting it. However, nature wins out over nurture time and again, and Rose proves to be very much not like Elise.


Many years later, one of her older sisters gets sick, the first in a series of unfortunate events that leave the family worried about their future. One stormy night, a white bear comes to their house, promising to somehow fix things if they will let him have Rose. She agrees, traveling with him to a castle hidden in the mountains, and for a while everything goes all right, until Rose's curiosity turns out to be her undoing. Determined to set things right, she sets off for the land "east of the sun and west of the moon" to rescue her white bear once and for all.


East contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: With almost 500 pages, Pattou manages to seamlessly expand on the heroine's family, journey (now including the French and Inuit), and everything else. The sewing, reindeer, human slaves, and about a fifth of the book were all Pattou.
  • All Trolls Are Different: Trolls in this novel are beautiful humanoids with rough pale skin, equally gruff voices, and the ability to use magic.
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: Because the Troll Queen engineered a way for Rose to violate Charles' Curse Escape Clause.
  • Baleful Polymorph: The white bear, also known as Myk the troll captive, also known as Charles the 150-year-old kidnapped French prince.
  • Beauty = Goodness: Played straight with Charles and Rose, even if she envies her sisters' more willowy forms. Subverted with the Troll Queen, who is as beautiful as a glacier while capable of "love"... and incredibly selfish sociopathy.
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  • Blue and Orange Morality: Trolls. Where to start with the Trolls?
  • Born During a Storm: Rose was born in the middle of a storm, and is a willful north-born child to match her birth.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The shirt that Rose makes for Charles from bear fur.
  • Curse: Charles was forced to spend 150 years as the white bear, and unless he could meet the requirements to break the curse, he would belong to the Troll Queen.
  • Curse Escape Clause: See above, which is straight from the original story.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Slavery and kentta murha. Then again, even Tuki isn't too big a fan of kentta murha. Of course, the whole mess really starts when the white bear offers Rose's family an end of their many troubles in return for... well... Rose.
  • Determinator: Rose's quest takes her from Norway to France to Norway to the Arctic Circle... and back. At least part of that journey is done via old Viking boat and kayak, but then there's the majority done on foot.
  • Deus ex Machina: Soren serves as this for Rose's family, especially since all of them (except Eugenia) refuse to believe that the white bear had anything to do with it.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Plenty of hard trouble for one farming family,and none of their neighbors. Poor harvests, sick Sara, eviction... for the times, this would have been dangerously close to a worst-case scenario.
  • Evil Old Folks: Making a little girl pay her a basket of chanterelle mushrooms to use the spare loom she has no use for, especially since it has to be repaired first? Maybe not evil, but at least extremely selfish and cranky, Widow Hautzig. Then there was the way she encouraged Euguenia's superstitiousness, but not as bad... except when it led them to the mysterious shopkeeper with enchanted candles.
  • The Fair Folk: The trolls. They have magical powers, long lifespans, and a secret, near-inaccessible homeland. And they abduct humans for slave labor. They are a bit uglier than the standard example.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language
  • Half-Truth: Rose was indeed buried in snow and ice, but the white bear was there to dig her out.
  • Horny Vikings: Thor, who helps Rose travel North.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: The Troll Queen is absolutely giddy over winning the white bear as her husband.
  • Ill Girl: Sara
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: The slank which the trolls were giving their human slaves to keep them docile and which the Troll Queen was giving Charles.
  • Manchild: Most of the Trolls we meet. While this trait makes Tuki endearing, the Troll Queen is instead a very dangerous enemy.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Rose uses the candle her mother gave her to see the white bear for who he really was, unknowingly screwing up his last chance of breaking the curse.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Even among a 16th century-ish Norwegian farming family, Eugenia and her mother are considered almost absurdly superstitious. Even when they're visited by a talking white bear.
  • Orphan's Plot Trinket: The ring that Charles gives Rose before he is taken away, which turns out to be proof of his heritage as part of the French monarchy.
  • The Power of Love: enables teenage girls to chase evil magic Troll Queens all the way to the Arctic Circle, and the Love Interest to snap at least partially out of drug-induced amnesia and conditioning. Unlike some examples, this is realistic thanks to Rose's farm girl upbringing/body type/lots of help and Charles being taken off the rauha slank for most of the past week.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Charles, son of Charles VI, spent 150 years as the white bear as part of his curse.
    • The Troll Queen was a little girl 150 years ago. She's no less selfish now, though.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Rose was born to replace her older sister, Elise.
  • Screaming Birth: Rose's own birth during a storm.
  • Shown Their Work: Everything from day-to-day Norwegian farm life in the 16th Century to Norsk and French history are naturally integrated into the narrative. Which works to translate a Norwegian folk tale into Real Life.
  • Spanner in the Works: Tuki serves as this for Rose against the Troll Queen. That adorable, fairly childish Troll boy? Let's accidentally let him make friends with the human girl, then let him play companion to the drugged-up groom. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
  • Stalker with a Crush: The Troll Queen, who abducted Charles when he was a child.
  • Switching P.O.V.: The novel switches between Rose, her brother Neddy, her father, the bear, and the Troll Queen.
  • Theme Naming: The first letter of each of her children's names is that of a direction on a map, e.g. Neddy Wilfred (North West), Sara (South), and Wilhelm (West).
  • What Measure Is A Nonhuman: Inverted. What measure are the drugged, amnesiac human slaves the trolls use?
  • Yandere: When the Troll Queen takes Charles back to her kingdom after he becomes human permanently, she immediately starts drugging him in order to make him forget his time as the white bear.

Alternative Title(s): North Child


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