North Child- Edith Pattou

When I learned that I had been selected to receive a copy of North Child by Edith Pattou I was so very excited.

I missed North Child the first time it was published in 2003 (as East in the USA) and whilst I’m sad that this is so, I was so pleased and cheered to be introduced to this world at exactly the right time for my imagination which is crackling aflame rediscovering my love of mythology and folklore.

The man was poor and had many children..

Rose was not supposed to be a North Child. She was supposed to replace her lost sister who was born facing East, for a North Child is destined to wander far from home. But a lie does not change ones stars.

One day a polar bear comes to the door of Rose’s family and asks that she come live with him and all their wishes will come true. This situation, a waiting Troll Princess and a betrayal begin a epic journey of hope and determination and courage to find out what one is made of and how far one will go.

Photo by Dan Bolton Unsplash.com

My goodness. This is MY kind of book. There is Mythology galore with East of the Sun and West Of The Moon, Tales Of Norse Gods and Niflheim and wonderful tales of shapeshifting.

It is indeed heavily inspired by the Norwegian fairytale ‘East of the Sun and West Of The Moon’ of which we have an illustrated copy from the crucial plot elements, yet Edith has suffused the myth with a freshness by supplanting the Magical trials of our heroine with real ones, albeit maybe with a dash of magical help and perhaps nods to the original along the way but indeed there is a loving respect given to the source material.

There is also a glorious revelry and indulgence in the inclusion of Norse mythology throughout from the Edda tales retold by Ned to travelling across a metaphorical Bifrost to the Land Of The Ice Trolls. I can’t find quite the words to express how thrilling it was for me to have this wonder entwined for me across the pages.

There may be inevitable comparisons to Beauty and the Beast which is also within the same story family but unlike those tales Rose is not the vehicle for his development, instead our Bear is already kind, educated and thoughtful and it is fact Rose who through her confinement finds she grows and learns in his castle. Yet equally it acknowledges that the circumstances for Rose was unfair to have happened at all. But, there is not the moralistic ‘reining’ in of a wild child, in fact Bear encourages her with all the things she enjoys and more, even when he shows her things that once inspired him, Bear shares his world WITH her and embraces her following her interests rather than demanding she fit his. Which is perhaps why Rose is both broken by the collapse of the enchantment and galvanises her grit to make amends.

The story certainly ignites and is resplendent when Rose’s mistake causes her to undertake a quest to make it right no matter the Herculean trial. This switches the dynamics from captured ‘princess’ to warrior woman and is a sight to be beheld, as she struggles, she perseveres and she endures. This is intensely amazing to see in a children’s book that shows you can grow out of these fairytale dynamics and tropes within a gentle yet fierce setting and without resorting to sex.

Northern lights
Image of Northern Lights taken near Trømso Norway by Marcelo Quinan

The magic throughout is fantastic with the woven story arcs that plant seeds to return later in the book, maps, a chance obsession with fixing clothes, the embrace of Norse Mythology, and the wonder of books and music.

The Magic overall and especially the shamanistic journey across Greenland are just sublime in the way they really sweep you to another time and space between magic and history that peek inbetween.

Much as Rose weaves intricate designs with her loom, so Pattou weaves hope and love and empowering inspiration into her tale.

I savoured the quiet building of tension and longing throughout, you could hear the echoing steps in the empty castle and your heart in your mouth at the moments where Rose wants to peek across the bed and a pain in your soul at the mournful way Bear is almost already grieving for Rose before their time together has even truly begun, because he is grasping for , gasping at a very Last hope.

Picture thanks to Unsplash.com

I stayed up far too late to finish this because after a gentle start establishing the world, Rose’s family superstitions and dynamics I found that I had become drawn down the rabbit hole and simply couldn’t put it down til the last page in one go late at night.

North Child is phenomenally good and has a remarkable empyrean quality about it, like the universe is whispering a wonderful story to us and that, truly, is sublime writing.

If you love the lyrical folklore-studded works of Sophie Anderson or Kiran Millwood Hargraves, this is a book you cannot miss.

North Child by Edith Pattou is published by Usborne in October 31st 2019.

Thank you SO much Usborne 💜

19 thoughts on “North Child- Edith Pattou

  1. Oh goodness – what a fantastic review! This sounds just perfect for me. We have a copy of the original in our school library and I always meant to read it. Now I’m definitely going to get the new release – but I may have to save it for a Christmas treat as it looks like a lengthy read that I need to savour when I can have a whole day to myself!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you 💜 it’s a truly wonderful book so full of folk and myth I am swept away still!
      It’s a chunk BUT I flew through it!! Picked it up at 10.30 saying a couple of chapters before bed to get the ‘flavour’ then boom!! finish it at nearly 2am and I’ve barely looked up from the book to realise the time!!

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    2. Wow! That’s impressive reading! I think I’m getting slower and being back at school is making it so much harder to read during the week as I’m usually exhausted by 9pm! Always try to catch up on reading at half term etc Hope you had a great holiday!

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    3. I had a wonderful time but may have come home with a terrible cold!! I’ve always been a quick reader especially when invested but it’s totally understandable to be tired with teaching- I used to pretty much only read in holidays when I taught!

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  2. I haven’t given this a proper read yet, I will do what I often do with books I’m excited for and come back to read this when I’ve also read it. But I’m thrilled to hear you enjoyed it and to know it’s full of a folklore and fairytale feel! I’m dying to get stuck into my copy, alas it’ll probably be November I think!

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    1. It’s so worth it… the first few chapters take a while to settle in thanks to switching narrators but once it gets going OH MY!!! It’s an epic with a classical timeless feel yet very modern empowering (without turning twee) and oh it’s just fantastic- I believe there’s a sequel.

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    2. I’m dying to tell too! Soon hopefully. One good thing is even if I don’t fully complete it, it’s given me a bit of a boost in what I can get through so I’m thinking of joining in with Believathon in Nov too now!

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  3. It keeps throwing me seeing this book as “North Child” because I know it as “East” and read it over ten years ago. It’s honestly one of my favorite middle grade books – it’s such a beautiful story. I waited years for the sequel, finally got one and now I haven’t read it yet. I don’t know why I’m like this LOL I am going to read both though this winter – I’m due for a reread.

    Amazing review

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much!! Yes it’s been known as North Child in UK and Australia but East in USA. I can’t believe I missed out on this amazing book, so I’m so glad that there is a reissue it’s utterly deserving and going in the vault of Faevorites!! Certainly will be looking forward to the sequel too 💜💜

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