by Michelle Diener
New Adult/Sci-Fi Fantasy
Paperback, 342 pages
Expected publication: December 19th 2013
Bjorn needs to find a very special woman . . .
The fate of his people, and his own life, depends on it. But when he does find her, she is nothing like he imagined, and may just harbor more secrets than he does himself.
Astrid has never taken well to commands. No matter who issues them . . .
She's clashed her whole life with her father, and now her lover, the mysterious man who comes to her bedroom in darkness and disappears to guard his mountain by day as a bear, is finding it out the hard way. And when he's taken by his enemies, no one is prepared for Astrid's response.
It is never wise to anger the mistress of the wind . . .
A captivating and magical adult retelling of the fairy tale East of the Sun, West of the Moon.
“Diener’s adaptation retains the familiar elements of the original, echoing both the structure and spirit of the classic, but true to form, she puts her own spin both the plot and the narrative, crafting an intricately alluring tale of self-sacrifice, steadfast devotion and enduring love.“ Flashlight Commentary
“The story is fast-paced and never boring, the world a beauty and Michelle’s writing so wonderfully detailed that I felt I was with Bjorn and Astrid on their journey.“ Book Bird Reviews
Author Michelle Diener takes this re-telling to another level. She doesn’t restrict herself to an East of the Sun, West of the moon retelling. Instead we are also given parts reminiscent of Psyche’s quest. Which just allowed for a much more richer story. Paperback Wonderland
Fairy tales are generally grouped into types by folklorists using the Aarne-Thompson classification system, and East of the Sun, West of the Moon is classified as AT-425A, in the 'husband' group of tales, which also includes Beauty and the Beast and Psyche and Eros.
What is unique about East of the Sun, West of the Moon, is that when the heroine goes in search of her lover, the people who help her along the way do not do so because of any action on her part. Usually in a fairy tale--in fact, almost across the board--an elderly, mysterious figure or animal will aid the hero or heroine because of an act of kindness they have shown, or because of a favor the hero / heroine has done first.
In East of the Sun, West of the Moon, the heroine is helped as if it is her due. This really sparked my interest, along with the magical flying horses that are lent to her, and the assumption by all concerned that the four winds will give the heroine their aid.
I approached the story with the question: why would this be so? Because I was writing a full-length novel off of what is, in my fairy tale collection, only 8 pages of text, I obviously had to make the story make sense. Quite often in fairy tales coincidences, strange happenings and the relationships between characters are never explained, but it is assumed the reader will accept them, even though there is no reason behind them. That obviously wouldn't work in a full-length novel. So I decided to explore all mythology relating to the wind, and came across the myth of the Wind Hag, and I just knew I had found the core of my story.
If you are surprised at the use of the Wind Hag as a powerful heroine, let me explain why the crone or hag is a powerful, rather than a pitiable or evil character. And she doesn't have to be old and ugly, either. The book Women Who Run with the Wolves by Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes first introduced me to the idea of the hag as a force of power and self-determination. Estes looked at a number of fairy tales and myths across many cultures, at a time when the power of the feminine had a strong place in society. As the patriarchal Christian religion encroached on society across Europe, women who understood herbology, kept the (pagan) myths and legends alive and who were respected and whose opinions mattered within the social structure, were a direct threat to the new religion.
It was most certainly in the interests of the Church to demonize and undermine these women and what they stood for, and it is no coincidence that the stereotype of a witch is an old hag or crone. They certainly caught the brunt of the Inquisition's witch hunts, and again, that was no coincidence.
It felt right to weave the myth of the Wind Hag through East of the Sun, West of the Moon, even though it isn't in the original. It fit in some way that was really satisfying, and it felt empowering.
Because this is originally a Scandinavian tale, I used Norse mythology to enrich it, although I made a few of the magical creatures up, from a mish-mash of fairy tale creatures and myth.
One aspect of East of the Sun, West of the Moon which I love is that this is a tale where the heroine rescues the hero. I love how the heroine takes action, refusing to give up even in the face of impossible odds. East of the Sun, West of the Moon has one of the bravest, most proactive heroines of any fairy tale, and her journey is striking in how it can be read from a Jungian point of view.
The Jungian psychologist, Marie-Louise Von Franz, made a life's study out of fairy tales and how they relate to ego and our sense of self. I am in awe of her work. One of the points she makes about fairy tales is how they are reflections of our relationship with ourselves, and I found that true over and over again as I wrote Mistress of the Wind.
I love that the heroine cannot rescue the prince until she has travelled to all four corners of the world, and I saw that very much as an allegory for her needing to explore her strengths and come to understand her own power and worth before she could save someone else.
I wrote Mistress of the Wind continually awed and amazed by the depth and richness of the original tale, and so, while I've woven new things into the story, like the Wind Hag, Norse mythology and some of my own imagination, I also tried to remain faithful to the original tale. I wanted to respect the original, and honor it. And it was certainly a privilege to write it. I just hope I did it justice.
- Michelle Diener
Michelle Diener writes historical fiction. Her Susanna Horenbout & John Parker series, set in the court of Henry VIII, includes In a Treacherous Court, Keeper of the King's Secrets and In Defense of the Queen.
Michelle's other historical novels include Daughter of the Sky, The Emperor's Conspiracy and Banquet of Lies (loosely connected to The Emperor's Conspiracy).
Michelle's first fantasy novel, Mistress of the Wind, is set for a December 23, 2013, release.
Michelle was born in London, grew up in South Africa and currently lives in Australia with her husband and two children.