There was a point, about 70 pages in, where I almost gave up on this book. I said (not out loud), "Wait, they're not
going to storm the troll castle and rescue her mother? They're just going to hang around the Ice Palace making small talk? What is this, a rip-off of McKinley's Beauty with less interesting characters and prose?" But no, Stuff does happen, and I guess that slow part may be necessary for the reader to understand why Cassie is bored and lonely. Although personally I need no elaboration as to why an active young woman would not want to sit around alone all day with no books or activities in a glorified igloo one mile north of the North Pole, I did like that her decision is influenced by her desire to do useful work and not just about her feeeelings. I liked that the arctic research Cassie and her father were doing was actually relevant to the plot and not just a device to justify an 18-year-old girl being at the North Pole to meet the Polar Bear King. I liked that Durst managed to do interesting and original things while remaining true to both the outlines and feeling of the tale. The main weakness for me was the characters. I didn't dislike them, or think they were notably weak, I just didn't have strong feelings for them. In a sense this is true to the nature of fairy tales, which don't generally feature extensive character development, but in a full-length novel that focuses primarily on the adventures of one individual, I wanted her to be just a little more interesting, as a person.