West of the moon is a journey of sorts. The entire book is in the first person and we walk along with Astri, her thoughts, and decisions. She lives in Norway in a time where people believe in trolls and magic, and the story revolves in this belief, of how people make decisions based on fairy tales.
The book starts with Astri being sold by her Aunt to a mean goat farmer, that makes her work all day, never let her bathe and have this troll treasure chest with his precious contents: coins, a black book and a bible (which he reads to Astri).
Of course, Astri doesn’t like the place and starts to make a plan to escape, to take the goat farm treasure, take her sister back although she doesn’t know where her aunt’s house is and blame herself to not paying attention to the path when she got to the goat farmer’s farm.
Astri has 13 years old and her sister has 6. While she is telling her story, she is telling another one, she compares her journey to a fairy tale about a princess that was taken by a white bear and in return her family would have everything they dream for. And this princess and her fearless walking with the bear gives her strength to continue.
Spoiler from here
The moment she escapes and reunites with her sister, another character joins her party: a girl who doesn’t speak and does an amazing job spinning wool.
At every part of their adventure, Astri inserts a fairy tale to amuse her sister, to make her believe that everything will be better. She thinks she is a mean person because of her decisions, but her kindness toward her sister shows otherwise.
By the 3rd part of the book, we find out all the bad decisions her parents did because of “people are talking”, gossip, beliefs.
We live in a world that is people gossiping and try to tell their beliefs on us and even it’s not fairy tale related it can do as much damage.
After the book ends, there are 3 pages that show where this story came from.
Open if you want to know
The author created the book from these lines of her great-great-grandmother’s diary:
“I went back downstairs again, bringing with me a pretty farmer girl, Margit, whom Herman and I had thought about taking as our maid… I said that I knew she was alone and that she did not have anyone to support her, and if I could do her a favor by engaging her, then I would do it”
“That comes from practice. And from using this” – she points to her head – “which you must do all your life and with everything you hear and read. What are true things, and what are not? What is good, and what is rubbish? Everything you encounter in life, everything you read, you have to use your own nogging, my girl”
This is not a children’s book. It is label as such, but has some mature content like child abuse, talks about death and adult bad decisions.
But I recommend if you need a nice story with a hint of fairy tales.