Mistress of the Wind by Michelle Diener
Certainly a change of pace from my previous encounters with Diener's Tudor and other historical works. This work evidences her prodigious talent, the depths of her writing abilities shine.
Beautifully crafted, this retelling of East of the Sun, West of the Moon, is a pleasure to read. Poetic in its descriptions, the relationship that develops between Astrid and the Bear/Prince unfolds with an unfaltering intensity.
Sold to the Bear/Prince by her family, Astrid travels to his castle. She is to be held there for a year as his companion, not wife if you will, mistress if you won't. She is not to leave and can never see the prince as a man, although he visits her at night. The hurt of being sold is revisited at certain times in the novel. We hurt with Astrid.
Astrid's cleverness, the humour we see hidden in her request for an axe after she, with great trepidation, enters the castle stronghold and realizes she has a bargain to keep is precious. Her appeal to the wind, the sight of it dancing around her, adds a moment of relief as the wind brings her joy, in this the unknown. Of course Astrid finds it difficult.
We understand her plea to see Bjorn, her plea for freedom to be outside. We understand Bjorn's fears of being trapped as a Bear forever, trapped into marriage with the Troll Queen's daughter, his fears of betrayal.
However, despite her love for him, Astrid's actions do condemn Bjorn. With the help of the wind she sets forth to rescue her love. Her journey, a quest with challenges and tests, introduces her and us to some wonderful characters along the way. I love Astrid's respect and the courtesy she shows to these beings.
Astrid is more than we know. She is a secret even to herself. Her mother might guess, but her father fears her. Astrid's abilities develop alongside her love for Bjorn and are key to helping Bjorn free himself and his kingdom from the Troll Queen's thrall.
Astrid's relationship with Bjorn has been a longtime coming. These two were destined for each other.
Evocative writing that invites us in, grabs our attention and draws us, drew me, willingly into this magical world that is so real, and so refreshing.
'Fairy tales are stories for the soul, and delving into East of the Sun, West of the Moon, to write this book was a pleasure,' says Diener in her forward. This story certainly captivated me.
As an aside, I love the cover. Wistful, romantic and beguiling. A dreamlike quality. The colours certainly reflect what I imagine as the setting for the story.
A NetGalley ARC