Saturday, August 24, 2019

Juliet Marillier Retells "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" in Audible Exclusive "Beautiful"

Yes - you read correctly: this is an ears-only story!

Most fairy tale fans have heard of Juliet Marillier. Ever since meeting Sorcha in the first book of the Sevenwaters series, Daughter of the Forest, still many folks' favorite retelling of The Wild Swans, she's been an author who guarantees a fresh, folklore-based and well-researched take on any fairy tale she puts her pen to.

This time she's tackled the popular Norwegian fairy tale, East of the Sun, West of the Moon, and, true to form, the narrator isn't someone you'd suspect.

Marillier's look at the beloved tale is told from the perspective of one of the players in the story who was taken advantage of, then unceremoniously left behind as the main couple "get their Happily Ever After".

Here's the description:
Illustration by Anton Lomaev for the novel East, written by Edith Pattou
With the Nordic fairy tale East of the Sun and West of the Moon as her inspiration, Juliet Marillier weaves a magical story of a young princess' search for her true self.
Hulde is a queen's daughter and lives in a palace. But her life is lonely. Growing up atop the glass mountain, she knows only her violent and autocratic mother and a household of terrified servants.

Then a white bear named Rune comes to visit, and Hulde learns what kindness is.

But the queen has a plan for Hulde. When she turns 16, she will wed the most beautiful man in all the world. Hulde has never met her intended husband, and her mother refuses to explain the arrangement. Hulde becomes desperate to find out more and seeks the help of a magic mirror. Perhaps someone is coming to her rescue.

On her wedding day, Hulde's existence is turned upside down. For the first time she leaves the glass mountain behind, setting out to be as brave as the heroines in her beloved storybook.

The journey will test Hulde to the limit. Can she overcome her fears and take control of her own life?
Marillier posted this little insight on her personal blog:
East of the Sun, West of the Moon by Bev Johnson
Beautiful (the novel) is in three parts. Part one follows the pattern of the fairy tale, though the central character is not the white bear prince or the intrepid young woman who travels east of the sun and west of the moon to save him from a curse. Our narrator, whom I named Hulde, only had a bit-part in that original story. The novel-length version takes Hulde way out of her comfort zone as she heads off into the unknown world beyond the glass mountain, to find out what it means to make your own story. I really loved writing this book and I hope readers will enjoy it too. It has adventures and catastrophes and a dragon. Beautiful is suitable for both adult and young adult readers.  
One reviewer, Steff (Mogsy) at Bibliosanctum, had some interesting things to add about the book, which made us more inclined to consider taking the time to listen:
Hulde is what you would call the bit-parter, the forgotten one. Not the bold and indomitable heroine, nor the girl who gets the guy, she is in fact the troll princess, the quiet and unassuming daughter of the power-hungry Troll Queen. Marillier has described Hulde as “rather hard done by” in the original tale, so her novel was a chance to explore the character and her viewpoint in more detail. The first part of Beautiful tells of her childhood high in the mountain castle, growing up under the thumb of her temperamental and ambitious mother. Hulde is told that when she reaches age sixteen, she will be married to the most handsome prince in the land, though having been sheltered and isolated all her life, our protagonist isn’t really sure what to make of that. Her only friend—and the only one she’s ever had those kinds of feelings for—is Rune, the kindly white bear who only visits the castle every three years. 
Well, knowing the gist of the original fairy tale, you can probably guess what became of that relationship and how Hulde took it. Hard done by, indeed. After the introduction, I began to better understand the author’s fascination for the forgotten troll princess’ role in the story as well as her motivation to come up with the next chapter for her character, and I was glad to see that parts two and three of Beautiful did just that. Following Hulde after she finally steps out from the shadow of her mother, this book chronicles the epic journey of her self-discovery.
While Marillier did publish a novella-length version in the Aurum anthology late last year, this story, released in May 2019, is novel-length, and clocks in at 7+ hours of listening time. To date, if you want the whole story, this audiobook exclusive is the only way to go. (We hope that changes in the future!)

You can have a sample listen at Amazon HERE or at Audible HERE. It's free with a 30-day trial of Audible.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I got very excited to read this, as a big fan of Juliet Marillier, and looked it up - if you really don’t want the 30 day free trial it costs $42.00! I’m reluctant to take on a subscription; I’ve had bad experiences with them in the past. There is generally too much hassle in cancelling. Oh, well, maybe it will turn up on Apple Books some time...

    An interesting storyline. Phyllis Ann Karr did a short story inspired by The Snow Queen, seen from the viewpoint of the little robber girl, who eventually finds a home for the Little Mermaid’s voice.