Book Review : West

Book Review : WestWest (East, #2) by Edith Pattou
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on October 23rd 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult
Pages: 528
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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.

I must say, when I first found out there was a sequel to the pure perfection that is the novel East, I was shocked. I was even more surprised when West was a continuation of Rose’s story after her happy ending with a white bear. In my opinion, East wrapped up Rose’s story beautifully and neatly and there was no need to add on to it. But surely the author who wrote such a magnificent novel like East could write a sequel that I could love just as much?


“But there it was, and what I found inside was that Rose’s story had not ended where I thought it had. Not by a long shot. Of course stories never do. There are always thousands of details, small and meaningful, that follow a happy ending, or what one believes to be a happy ending.”


Unfortunately, my initial suspicions proved correct with West. I found this sequel to the much beloved East not only completely unnecessary, but also found that it even lessened my enjoyment of the first novel considerably. Knowing the heartbreak and struggle Rose and her White Bear, now husband Charles, went through in the first novel, only to have them encounter a series of more misfortunes at the hands of the View Spoiler » And to have their baby threatened too? I was displeased.


“And I knew. The letter was a fake. It had been written by a troll. The queen might have been dead, but it was likely that not all the members of the Huldre race had perished in Niflheim. And one of them had written that letter.”


I know that life goes on after marriage and that Rose and Charles would have indeed encountered some sort of strife after their happy ending. But they didn’t deserve to face these sorts of dire consequences again in West. The two—and for that matter, Rose’s family—had already suffered enough.  Instead of putting the characters I cared about through so much tribulation again. I much would have preferred that the author had focused on the children or grandchildren of Rose and Charles or have them travel to distant lands on new adventures.


Judging from the cover, which depicts a giant white snake, I at least expected Rose to venture into a distant, desert-like lands and to have to deal with different mythologies and what not. Instead, an ice troll can just transform into a snake for unexplained reasons. How misleading and unsatisfying. Likewise, I found the blending of all the different mythologies in the same areas, Nordic, Greek, and Celtic, as well as all the different languages disorienting. I had to use Google Translate quite a bit to understand what the heck characters were saying.


“My white bear was gone, but not gone. In some ways it was worse than if he were dead.”


I was similarly irritated by the plot device of amnesia for Charles, and that Rose had to save him yet again. At the very least, I wish the author could have come up with a uniquely different villain, so I didn’t feel like everything the characters went through in East was for nothing. It was particularly a slap in the face to me when dear Sara, the whole reason Rose went with the white bear in the first novel, View Spoiler » Adding insult to these injuries was a great epidemic of a Sweating Sickness, which struck most of the people Rose cared about. Characters were faced with hand washing and mask wearing, which in 2020, was not a welcome plot line. Admittedly, the current pandemic is not the author’s fault, so I forced myself to make it past the parts of West that dealt with Sweating Sickness.


She smiled again, and said, “Did you know that in some places in the world, there is something quite similar to your birth direction lore? It has to do with the winds.”

“There is?” I said, much interested.


Though I really didn’t care for the main plot of the story, which ultimately felt like a very poor imitation of East also lacked its magic, I did enjoy a few parts of West. For me, Sib’s wind superstitions and magic were quite interesting. I also enjoyed her developing romance with Neddy, though lamented his inability to get a normal woman to simply settle down with him after he went through with Rose. I also enjoyed the little things, like Rose’s repeated refusal to tell her superstitious mother the birth direction of her newborn.


But sadly, these enjoyable moments were few and far between, lost in what ultimately felt like a superfluous story and adventure for the characters, who would have undoubtedly been better off without West. And I, the reader, feel the same way and will will try to forget I ever read West, so I can remember East without its stain. Do yourself a favor and skip this one.

Book Review : West - Blogging with Dragons

Posted December 21, 2020 in Book Reviews, Fantasy, Young Adult

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