Review: To Ride the Wind

To Ride the Wind by Melanie Cellier is the first book in a two-part epilogue of the Four Kingdoms series that does not disappoint. This retelling of "East of the Sun and West of the Moon" is full of adventure, romance, and surprises. Though I'm not typically a fan of the original fairy tale, nearly every adaptation I have read improves upon its flaws. The first book in this duology ends on a cliffhanger that will be completed in To Steal the Sun but tells a satisfying enough story to make the wait worthwhile. This review is the second one I have written for #fairytalesummer, a Facebook event going on right now that awards points to readers of clean fairy tale adaptations all month long! If you love fairy tales as much as I do, you should check it out.

Charlotte, who was first introduced in The Abandoned Princess is all grown up and ready to go on adventures of her own, in no small part to get away from her sisters, who treat her like an outsider in her own family. In all of her wildest imaginings, she was unprepared for that adventure that came in the form of a talking bear and an impromptu proposal. She thought her parents would reject such an absurd suggestion, so Charlotte was shocked when her entire family was swayed by the offer of money and comfort in exchange for her hand in marriage to a talking bear. Another misconception she had was that her new husband was a talking animal from the Palace of Light, a recurring mythological location in this series, instead of a cursed human. Henry brought Charlotte to a vast enchanted castle where she could have everything her heart desired except her fondest wish to see his human face at night.

This book is told from dual perspectives, but not from the two love interests. Instead, it switches between Charlotte and Gwen, a foreign princess who does not meet Charlotte until near the end of the book. This is a bold move, but it pays off when the girls become fast friends, and the reader doesn't need any expository dialogue to catch up. It also helps to build up hype for the second book, which will likely focus more on Gwen than Charlotte. Gwen represents the troll princess from "East of the Sun and West of the Moon," but the way she is described is the exact opposite. She is a traditional fairy tale princess with a desire to be free from the lies and secrets in the confines of her castle and to save her people from her mother's tyranny. Between Charlotte and Gwen, this book tells two very different stories about two different types of heroines to reflect the dual nature of this adapation.

The biggest challenge of "East of the Sun and West of the Moon" to have a likable protagonist takes place when she uses a candle to look at her husband because her family thinks she might have been tricked into marrying someone ugly. This book does not change that part too much, but it uses Gwen's limited knowledge of curses and magic to form suspicion and fear for her friend. Charlotte trusts Henry implicitly and only decides to use the candle to prove her parents' accusations wrong, which were fueled by her new friend. In the end, the mistake comes as a result of pride and willfulness as opposed to superficiality, which are better flaws for a modern heroine as the superficiality theme has been done to death, and most noble protagonists can see beyond appearances. The reunion at the end of this book was not what I expected. The book had focused so much on Charlotte's story that I thought Gwen's would come in the next book. I look forward to learning how both girls can resolve their differences.

To Ride the Wind by Melanie Cellier is a thrilling retelling of "East of the Sun and West of the Moon" that exceeded my expectations. With its dual perspectives, adventure, romance, and surprises, this book is a must-read for fairy tale fans. Charlotte and Gwen's stories may be different, but they complement each other perfectly, building up to a cliffhanger that will leave you eager for the next installment, To Steal the Sun. If you're a fan of fairy tale adaptations like I am, be sure to check out the Clean Fairytales group on Facebook and join the conversation. And if you haven't already, add To Ride the Wind to your reading list - you won't regret it!


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