East of the Sun, West of the Moon Book List

East of the Sun, West of the Moon is a fantastic Norwegian fairy tale. For those unfamiliar with the story, it and Beauty and the Beast are both inspired by the myth of Cupid and Psyche and so share many similar elements. A girl is whisked away to a castle with invisible servants. Her husband is a monster in some way or form and she must save him by making him human again through many trials.

What follows is a book list of stories spun off of stories, much like the fairy tale East of the Sun, West of the Moon is a fairy tale spun off from a myth. The first book is the text of the original fairy tale, beautifully illustrated. The next three are re-tellings of the fairy tale, either to expand on the original or to give it a more modern spin. The last book mentions this fairy tale among others in a book a troubled man’s mother wrote and it becomes pivotal to the plot in a story about the power of fairy tales.

East o’ the Sun and West o’ the Moon by Peter Christen Asbjornsen

A beloved Norwegian folktale, EAST O’ THE SUN AND WEST O’ THE MOON is the romantic story of a bewitched prince and the determined lassie who loves him. It has everything a classic epic tale should have: rags and riches, hags and heroism, magic and mystery, a curse and a quest, wicked trolls, a shape-shifting bear, and finally, a happy ending. Kate Greenaway Medalist P.J. Lynch has created a luminous backdrop worthy of this grand adventure, transporting readers to a world of fantasy and imagination.


East by Edith Pattou

Rose has always felt out of place in her family, a wanderer in a bunch of homebodies. So when an enormous white bear mysteriously shows up and asks her to come away with him—in exchange for health and prosperity for her ailing family—she readily agrees. The bear takes Rose to a distant castle, where each night she is confronted with a mystery. In solving that mystery, she loses her heart, discovers her purpose, and realizes her travels have only just begun.

As familiar and moving as “Beauty and the Beast” and yet as fresh and original as only the best fantasy can be, East is a novel retelling of the classic tale “East of the Sun, West of the Moon,” a sweeping romantic epic in the tradition of Robin McKinley and Gail Carson Levine.


Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George

Blessed—or cursed—with an ability to understand animals, the Lass (as she’s known to her family) has always been an oddball. And when an isbjorn (polar bear) seeks her out, and promises that her family will become rich if only the Lass will accompany him to his castle, she doesn’t hesitate. But the bear is not what he seems, nor is his castle, which is made of ice and inhabited by a silent staff of servents. Only a grueling journey on the backs of the four winds will reveal the truth: the bear is really a prince who’s been enchanted by a troll queen, and the Lass must come up with a way to free him before he’s forced to marry a troll princess.


Ice by Sarah Beth Durst

When Cassie was a little girl, her grandmother told her a fairy tale about her mother, who made a deal with the Polar Bear King and was swept away to the ends of the earth. Now that Cassie is older, she knows the story was a nice way of saying her mother had died. Cassie lives with her father at an Arctic research station, is determined to become a scientist, and has no time for make-believe.

Then, on her eighteenth birthday, Cassie comes face-to-face with a polar bear who speaks to her. He tells her that her mother is alive, imprisoned at the ends of the earth. And he can bring her back — if Cassie will agree to be his bride.

That is the beginning of Cassie’s own real-life fairy tale, one that sends her on an unbelievable journey across the brutal Arctic, through the Canadian boreal forest, and on the back of the North Wind to the land east of the sun and west of the moon. Before it is over, the world she knows will be swept away, and everything she holds dear will be taken from her — until she discovers the true meaning of love and family in the magical realm of Ice.


In a Dark Wood by Amanda Craig

Thirty-nine, recently divorced, jobless, Benedick Hunter is an actor heading in the exact opposite direction of happily ever after: everything from spending time with his own children to the prospect of dating brings him down. So when he comes across a children’s book his mother Laura wrote, he decides that her life and work–haunting stories replete with sinister woods and wicked witches and brave girls who battle giants–hold the key to figuring out why his own life is such a mess.

Setting out to find out why Laura killed herself when he was six, Benedick travels from his native England to the U.S. in search of her friends and his own long-lost relatives. As he grows obsessed with Laura’s books and their veiled references to reality Benedick enters into a dark wood–a dark wood that is both hilariously real and terrifyingly psychological. It is then that his story becomes an exploration not only of his mother’s genius but also of the nature of depression, and of the healing power of storytelling in our lives.

These are some of my favorite re-tellings of East of the Sun, West of the Moon. Are there any that you know of and enjoy? I would love to hear about it!

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