Thursday, December 26, 2013

Book Review: West of the Moon by Margi Preus

West of the MoonWest of the Moon by Margi Preus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of West of the Moon by Margi Preus from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

It almost feels like Preus wrote this book just for me. She took several of my favorite topics -- folk tales/fairy tales, religious and medical history, and historical fiction -- and wove them all together into this one amazing book.

West of the Moon is the story of Astri, a young Norwegian girl. Astri's mother died shortly after giving birth to a younger sister. Their father moved to America to start a better life. Meanwhile Astri and her younger sister, Greta, move in with their aunt and uncle, and wait for their father to send money so they can join him.

Without warning, Astri is sold to Mr. Svaalberd, a man she refers to as "Goatbeard." Svaalberd turns out to be a harsh master, and Astri dreams of escaping. During her time with Goatbeard, she discovers he already has another girl locked away, whom Astri names Spinning Girl. One day, Astri and Spinning Girl escape from their master and fumble their way back to Greta and rescue her. Some time and a few adventures later, Astri and Greta find themselves on a ship to America, where she learns about her family's past.

Preus combined her own family's past, Norwegian folk tales, and 19th century Norwegian history to create this story. It is full of superstition, adventure and hope. The book includes a selection of pictures from the author's great-great-grandmother's diary, from which she drew inspiration for the story in West of the Moon. A glossary of Norwegian terms and a brief summary of diseases common in the 19th century are also included in the book.

This is the first time I've read one of Preus' books. After this experience, I will be searching out her other books to read as well.

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