Once upon a time (East, 2003), a girl rescued an enchanted white bear from a wicked Troll Queen in a palace “east of the sun and west of the moon.” But what happened after “happily ever after”?
Rose and Charles (or, as she still calls him, her “White Bear”) have been blissfully married for three years and have an adopted daughter and a baby boy. When word comes that Charles has been lost at sea, Rose is not convinced it was an accident, suspecting the Troll Queen has survived to seek vengeance. After leisurely reacquainting readers with the characters and backstory, the pace quickens and the stakes become both grander and more personal, as the Queen schemes to kidnap the “bairn” and eradicate every other “softskin” human. Pattou (Ghosting, 2014, etc.) builds a solid, convincing 16th-century Europe from minutely observed details. No longer tethered to a specific tale, this sequel brings in elements from legends across time and around Europe. Like the first entry, the narrative here unfolds in short vignettes from multiple perspectives (all apparently white). The secondary characters—even in brief appearances—make the most vivid impressions; Rose and Charles seem somewhat opaque. Still, she remains fearless, independent, clever, and determined (if headstrong and heedless); he is again the kindhearted, if bewildered, gentleman in distress.
Necessary wherever the first is popular; a good addition to any collection where fairy-tale retellings circulate well. (glossary) (Fantasy. 12-18)