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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", first published in 2003. 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.

In 2018, a sequel, West, was released.


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.
  • Adaptational Dye-Job: In the Russian translation, Rose’s eyes are brown rather than purple.
  • Age-Gap Romance: Harald Soren and the much younger Sara fall in love. Nobody objects: as the woman's brother remarks, the couple is very harmonious.
  • 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: The Troll Queen towards Myk (Charles), after she makes sure Rose violates his Curse Escape Clause. To her credit, she does love him... as much as a being like her is capable of love.
  • Baleful Polymorph: The white bear, also known as Myk the troll captive, also known as Charles the 150-year-old kidnapped French prince.
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  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Inverted with most of the trolls, who are fascinatingly beautiful and very, very cruel.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Neddy is extremely protective of Rose and understands her better than anyone else in the family (it helps that he is the one closest to her age).
  • Bit Character: Among the Massive Numbered Siblings born to Arne and Eugenia, only Rose and Neddy are the book's main characters. Elise and Sara are important plot-wise but get little to do, Willem and Sonja Wende are around but barely get any characterization, while Nils Erlend and Selme Eva are mostly just mentioned, since they are the eldest ones and move away before the start of the plot.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: The trolls kidnap humans to make them their slaves but mostly take poor people whose absence will be less noticeable. If a troll kidnaps an important human, said troll must be punished. However, when the Troll Queen steals away a French prince, it's he who suffers from the punishment by getting turned into a white bear for 150 years.
  • Born During a Storm: Rose was born in the middle of a storm, and is a willful north-born child to match her birth.
  • Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: It's revealed Soren's subordinate does a good job with money but is often needlessly cruel, while Soren himself is the nicest guy imaginable.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The shirt that Rose makes for Charles from bear fur and the candlegrease spot on it are used to defeat the Troll Queen. No, really.
  • Curse: Charles was forced to spend 150 years as a white bear, and unless he could meet the requirements to break the curse, he would belong to the Troll Queen.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • For the trolls, human slavery and the kentta murha (a frozen field where the slaves are left to die after they are no longer useless) are completely acceptable.
  • 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 an old Viking boat and then a kayak, but then there's the majority done on foot.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Rose names her son after Tuki.
  • 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. He arrives right when their spirits are at their lowest possible point (Rose has left with the bear, Sara is sick, and the family's going to have to leave the farm) and instantly sets everything right.
  • 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.
  • Dub Name Change: In the Russian translation, the Theme Naming in Eugenia's family is based on the traditional nautical terms for directions, which in Russian are borrowed from Dutch. It allows the "N"s and "W"s to keep their names, but "S" gets replaced with "Z", turning Sara into Zara, and "E" with "O", leading to the largest changes (for example, Eugenia becomes Olda, Elise becomes Olivia, and Ebba becomes Oriana).
  • Ethnic Magician: Malmo, an Inuit female shaman, is the only human with unambiguously magical powers we encounter.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Eugenia's mother, while madly superstitious herself, feels that Eugenia crosses the line with her meticulous planning of her children's birth directions.
  • 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. Neddy admits to writing a poem about the widow where she dyes her weavings with blood and her hair sends off souls to hell, and then adds he has just slightly exaggerated the truth.
  • 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: even though they look beautiful, their rough skin and rough voices bring them straight into In-Universe Uncanny Valley.
  • Forced from Their Home: Rose's family learns they are being evicted from their farm by their new landlord. Their kind neighbour offers to take them in, but they don't want to impose as he is extremely poor himself and there are seven of them. This crisis is one of the reasons Rose agrees to leave with the white bear. As it turns out, it was the landlord's agent who planned to evict the family, while the landlord himself is a wonderful man who offers Rose's father a business partnership. The family ends up moving to a house in Trondheim as the business prospers, and one of Rose's brothers decides to stay on the farm.
  • Friend to All Living Things: According to Eugenia, it's an especially prominent trait of southwest-born and west-born children. At least, the trope is played straight with her own Sonja Wende and Willem. The latter, in particular, decides to stay on the farm after the family moves to town.
  • From Bad to Worse: Arne's business fails after the death of Eugenia's parents. The four children already born at that point begin to starve, and Arne becomes a farmer (not a very good one, either) and desperately struggles to feed them. After many poor harvests and the threat of eviction from the farm, Sara falls sick and is at death's door for many days. And then the white bear offers the family a possibility of Sara's recovery in exchange for Rose going with him.
  • Grim Up North: Rural 16th-century Norway is no picnic already, but then Rose's journey takes her all the way to Greenland, where she has to struggle to get to Niflheim through the snow and ice and terrible snowstorms. Even after the trolls are defeated, it is very hard to return to civilization because the snow and ice haven't gone anywhere.
  • Half-Truth: Rose is indeed buried in snow and ice, but the white bear is there to dig her out.
  • Horny Vikings: Played with. Thor, who helps Rose travel North, likes to pretend he is one, but nobody takes him seriously. It is one of the ways he tries to cope after robbers slaughter of his family.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: The Troll Queen is absolutely giddy over winning the former white bear as her husband.
  • Jealous Romantic Witness: Rose watches her beloved happily courting the Troll Queen and muses that she is no better than said Queen if she wants to break up such a tender romance. Then, however, as she discovers just what atrocities are committed by the trolls, she realises the man must have been brainwashed to love someone who condones it (which is indeed the case).
  • 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 have a really childish worldview (in a human's opinion). While this trait makes Tuki endearing, the Troll Queen is instead a very dangerous enemy.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: After leaving Rose, Malmo climbs up a hilltop and disappears, while Rose sees a bird flying up from the same place. She briefly wonders whether Malmo has turned into a bird or simply slid down the other side of the hill.
  • Meaningful Name: Rose is called after the wind rose.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Rose is devastated as she realizes that her curiosity has ruined the white bear's life, maybe forever.
    • Similarly, Eugenia is completely horrified when she finds out the guy who sold her an enchanted candle was a troll. She doesn't know what the candle really does, and she has already given it to her daughter.
  • Offscreen Romance: Harald Soren learns about Sara's existence early in part two. Then many chapters go by without them talking to each other (or even about each other), and in the end of part three, they are in love and engaged. Justified both out of universe (their relationship is completely unrelated to the main plot) and In-Universe (they only reveal it to the POV characters after the engagement).
  • Orphan's Plot Trinket: The ring that the white bear gives Rose before he is taken away, which turns out to be proof of his heritage as part of the French monarchy.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Elise, already an Ill Girl, dies at eight, leaving Arne and Eugenia heartbroken.
  • Parental Favoritism: Eugenia favored Elise (due to them both being east-born and similar in character), while Arne loves Rose best.
  • 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. In general, trolls age a lot slower than humans.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Thor's sailors, cheerful Gest and The Quiet One Goran.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Rose was born to replace her older sister, Elise.
  • Rescue Romance: Sara falls in love with Soren who saves her family and herself in particular right when all hope seems lost. She tells her brother that she started with feeling gratitude which later developed into love.
  • Screaming Birth: Rose's own birth during a storm.
  • Second Love: Thor, after losing his wife and son and spending more than ten years as a complete wreck, manages to regain interest in life thanks to the Inuits and especially to a pretty Inuit woman named Rekko.
  • 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.
  • 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 Eugenia's children's names is that of a direction on a map, e.g. Neddy Wilfrid (North West), Sara (South), and Willem (West).
  • Token Good Teammate: Tuki, who befriends Rose and helps Myk, is the only nice troll we encounter.
  • Wedding Deadline: Rose must save the white bear before he marries the Troll Queen. Indeed, she does so right at the wedding ceremony.
  • Weddings for Everyone: In the final chapter, Sara's and Rose's weddings occur with the interval of just several weeks.
  • Why Couldn't You Be Different?: Eugenia wanted a gentle, obedient girl to replace her beloved Elise. Instead, she got the wild and unpredictable Rose. It takes her a really long while to accept the fact.
  • 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 and fall in love with her.

Alternative Title(s): North Child