Title: The Snow Child
Author: Eowyn Ivey
Release Date: February 01, 2012
Publisher: Reagan Arthur / Back Bay Books
Source: personal copy
Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart–he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone–but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees.
This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.
This is not the sort of book I usually pick up on my own. I gravitate more towards heavily plot-driven fiction, and this book is more of a slow walk through the beautiful, snow-laden woods.
That’s not to say it wasn’t good. There was something charming about Mabel and Jack, even if they spent a lot of their time unhappy and wondering if they had made a huge mistake trying to make their home in Alaska. Mabel’s sadness, in particular, is palpable. By moving to Alaska, she’s merely run away from her grief, not dealt with it, and the isolation isn’t improving matters.
My main issue with the book is that I wish the author had either gone all the way in with the magic or not alluded to it at all. Instead, we get this weird mish-mosh of circumstances that lead to Faina being real, yet not real. I think the book would have been stronger if her (somewhat) logical origins weren’t explained, and the reader had been left guessing who, or what, she really is until the very end.
But, when it comes down to it, this was a sweet story, and I’m not sorry I picked it up after all.
- “The Snow Child does not tell the most exciting of stories, and many will probably find it to be too slow for their tastes. Those who do not mind such books, however, will want to pick this up immediately.” — Cuddlebuggery Book Blog
- “One of those rare cases where you should believe the hype, this book is a fantastic and thought-provoking tale that will stay with you long after you’ve finished the final page.” — Book Chick City
- “Despite the strengths of the novel and my early enjoyment of it, I did not end up loving this book which spans many years in the lives of the characters.” — Caribousmom