I was lucky enough to request and receive a copy of this from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. All views and opinions are my own.
North Child by Edith Pattou
I was really excited about this – I alresdy thought it sounded great, Usborne have published some of my favourite books this year and I’d seen nothing but race reviews online. And it more than lived up to expectations.
The story follows Rose, the wild child of her family, as she is taken North by a great white bear in return for health and good fortune for her struggling family.
Kept well in a huge castle with everything she could want, Rose starts to wonder about her kind-natured captor and what has led them both to their current situation.
As events unfold, we are taken on a perilous journey across wondrous and harsh lands and culminating in a daring rescue attempt amongst ruthless trolls.
This journey takes us across different terrains, over land and sea, through storms, snow and ice. We also see Rose’s rural family home and the castle in a mountain she’s taken to as well as the Troll Palace. All are described in sumptuous detail; the world building is vivid and real and the power and beauty of nature is clear.
The book is written in very short chapters from multiple viewpoints, which could easily make a book hard to get into or difficult to follow. On the contrary here, it only adds to the intrigue and understanding we have as a reader, as we are allowed glimpses of the full story as it unfolds in different places and different ways for different characters.
The Troll Queen, for example, could easily have been a rather stereotypical and one dimensional character had we only read about her, but seeing chapters written ‘by’ her gave her much greater depth – coloured in shades of grey rather than black and white.
I understand the story itself draws on Nordic folktales, specifically ‘East of the Sun, West of the Moon’. I’m unfamiliar with these (but have bought an absolutely stunning version off the back of this to read!)
Incidentally, that’s my very battered proof copy pictured but I have since bought the finished book.
However, even aside from that there are unmistakable fairytale elements – from the direct comparisons to other tales, like Beauty and the Beast, to more general fairy tale tropes and style throughout.
I loved this about it and even though it meant I didn’t get the ending I was hoping for I coukd jet it go and appreciate the ending we did get as it was very fitting and in keeping with the traditional tales the book comes from.
This is one of my favourite reads of the year. A brilliant folkloric adventure with a journey across varied but perfectly pictured lands, a feisty and determined heroine and just a touch of magic. I only wish it had been released as a gifty hardback – I’d have snapped that up!