‘East’ sequel a resourceful fantasy
It has taken 15 years, but central Ohio author Edith Pattou has produced a sequel to “East,” her 2003 young-adult fantasy and riff on the Norwegian fairy tale “East of the Sun and West of the Moon.”
Her new novel — titled “West,” of course — continues the story of the resourceful Rose and her beloved Charles, who spent most of the first novel as the enchanted White Bear. In “West,” Charles (a human again) has become Rose’s husband and the father of their baby son, Winn. But trouble is afoot.
The Troll Queen, presumed dead at the end of “East,” is very much alive and determined to seek revenge on Rose, who robbed her of her plan to marry Charles and rule the At a glance Troll kingdom with him and wreak havoc on the humans, or “softskins.”
As “West” opens, Charles’ ship has been lost at sea and he is presumed dead. Rose doesn’t believe it and sets off to find the truth. As she travels east, north, south and west, her friends and family at home are suffering a mysterious sweating sickness (the plague) and other calamities wrought by the Troll Queen.
Rose finds Charles, but his memory has been erased; he spends most of the novel • “West” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 528 pages, $17.99) by Edith Pattou
as a rather ineffective sidekick to brave, capable Rose who ultimately must protect not only her family but also the world from the Troll Queen’s malevolence.
Pattou has fashioned a tale that’s part fantasy, part myth. Her invented world contains parallels to the real medieval Earth, including references to places such as Fransk, Njord and Skottland (France, Norway, Scotland) and activities such as echecs (chess). If the meanings aren’t clear, there’s a glossary at the end.
The story unfolds from a variety of perspectives — those of Rose; Charles; Rose’s mother and brother; an orphaned teenager befriended by Rose and Charles; and the Troll Queen.
Pattou’s style is conversational, her plot is brisk and her chapters are short, all of which give “West” page-turning momentum.
The story of her empowered female is filled with action and surprise. Its ending is decisive and yet there’s room for future adventures if Pattou decides to soldier on some day to the “North” and “South.”