Book Review: West (+ Giveaway!)



Written by Edith Pattou

528 pages

Published by HMH Books for Young Readers

Publication date: 23rd October 2018

Summary (from Goodreads):

From the author of the beloved high fantasy East, a thrilling tale of true love, magic, adventure, and revenge.

When Rose first met Charles, he was trapped in the form of a white bear. To rescue him, Rose traveled to the land that lay east of the sun and west of the moon to defeat the evil Troll Queen. Now Rose has found her happily-ever-after with Charles—until a sudden storm destroys his ship and he is presumed dead. But Rose doesn’t believe the shipwreck was an act of nature, nor does she believe Charles is truly dead. Something much more sinister is at work. With mysterious and unstoppable forces threatening the lives of the people she loves, Rose must once again set off on a perilous journey. And this time, the fate of the entire world is at stake.

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Stories often end with a marriage and those expected words happily ever after. Stories should be like that perhaps, but life is not. In truth, my story with the white bear was very far from being over after we got married.

A new map, with new bearings.

A map of home and love and music and family.

Then it all changed. And all of our north, south, east, and west bearings were gone. In the blink of an eye.

The story picks up a short time after the events of East (North Child in the U.K. ), but gives a quick and welcome recap at the beginning, bearing in mind that many of the original fans of the first book will have read it over ten years ago!

The story follows Rose and Charles as they prepare to visit Rose’s parents, brining with them their newborn son, Winn, named for the the wind that was blowing when he was born. They are accompanied by Sib, one of the softskins freed from the Troll Queen’s Palace who seems to have a strange affinity with and possibly even power over the winds. When Charles’ ship sinks and the family receives a strange message saying he has died, Rose knows that something isn’t right so she sets off on a second epic journey to find him and bring him home.

The stakes seem even higher in this book than in the first because Rose’s family and friends are being drawn into the conflict between her and the Troll Queen. There is also a sickness epidemic spreading across Europe which seems as if it may leave any dead behind it.

This is an epic adventure across countries and worlds, with Rose showing her determination at every step. It addresses some of the questions I had at the end of the first book and it is refreshing to see the girl doing the rescuing! This book is sure to both satisfy old fans and bring new fans to this series.

“A wait of longer than a decade proves completely worthwhile in the case of Pattou’s continuing spin on Norwegian myth filled with fully realized human characters and adventures both fantastic and emotionally authentic.”—School Library Journal, STARRED review

“Necessary wherever the first is popular; a good addition to any collection where fairy-tale retellings circulate well.”—Kirkus Reviews

After 15 years, Edith Pattou’s WEST (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, October 23, 2018) is the long-awaited sequel to the beloved high fantasy East. Rose sets off on a perilous journey to find her true love when he goes missing in a thrilling tale of danger, magic, adventure, and revenge. Girl power and an epic love story come together with Edith’s much missed gorgeous writing.

EDITH PATTOU is the author of East, an ALA Notable Book; Fire Arrow, a Booklist Top Ten Fantasy Novel of the Year; and the New York Times best-selling picture book Mrs. Spitzer’s Garden. She lives in Columbus, Ohio. Visit her online at and follow her on Instagram: @ediepattou and Twitter: @epattou

I gazed out over the expanse of Njordsjoen again. It was choppy, a deep blue almost to blackness, but this too made me catch my breath. The open sea. How I had missed it, the salty wind in my face, the call of the gulls.

These past three years had been happy ones for my white bear and me, carving out a life for ourselves in Fransk. Yet there were moments now and then when that old restlessness would overtake me, and I would be driven to strap on my boots and go wandering through the countryside.

Charles understood. “If it wasn’t for your wild nature, I would still be a white bear. Or worse,” he once said to me, when I had finished apologizing for being gone overlong.

Even after the birth of Winn, my white bear accepted my wanderlust. He would just brush my forehead with his lips and say, “Off with you.”

What I liked: The story addressed some of the questions I had at the end of the first book, namely the fact that it seemed unlikely to me that every single troll in the world would have been killed during the collapse of the Troll Queen’s Palace, especially as so many humans managed to survive. I also felt slightly disappointed at the end of the last book not to have had any mention of the winds, a section of the original fairytale which I adored – so having the winds in this book was great. I’m not sure if the author herself had these same concerns/omissions in mind, but I am glad that they have both been addressed!

Even better if: I loved it exactly as it is!

How you could use it in your classroom: As with the first book, this could be used to compare the original fairytale with this re-imagining, to examine the crossover between real-life and magic and to spark a discussion about why so many traditional tales end with a wedding or happily ever after – what does that really mean? What do we think actually happens after the end of the story?

(Thank you to Netgalley and HMH for my e-review copy!)

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