The Snow Child is Eowyns Ivey's highly anticipated debut novel, to be published on the 16th February, 2012.
The story is set in the beautiful, yet harsh environment of 1950's Alaska. Jack and Mabel are struggling, both to survive and to stay close as the land reaps few crops and the loss of their one and only child leaves a void between them.
One night the couple build a snowman of a little girl, complete with gentle features, scarf and mittens. The next morning when the snow girl is gone, with footsteps leading away into the woods. Soon the couple begin to see a young girl around the frozen forest, appearing and disappearing in an instant but wearing the scarf and mittens. Is she lost, is she real, are they suffering from cabin fever or has their snow child really come to life?
This modern fairytale is most definitely one of the most beautiful and heart warming (and occasionally heart breaking) books I have ever read. From the very first few pages, where Mabel walks into the wilderness and lets fate decide if she should live or die, by walking across the partially frozen river, I was stunned by the beauty of the writing and the imagery that really brings the Alaskan wilderness to life. Descriptions of snowflake patterns, crunching ice and cutting winds are so perfectly detailed, they're enough to give you the shivers.
The characters are also beautifully crafted, especially Mabel. I wasn't sure I was going to take to her at first but as you follow her through the trials of survival and hope in Alaska, she turns from a timid, broken lady to an admirably strong and confident character. Faina (the snow child) is also expertly portrayed as a beautifully elfin creature at one with the forest but also with enough detail of her history and survival in the woods to not let her become too sickly sweet and to always leave you wondering about the outcome to the tale.
No spoilers here but the ending is also fabulous. As soon as I finished it, I literally wanted to pick it up and start back from the begining.
In short, I adored this book and just didn't want to to end, even though I was desperate to know what happened. It really is a fabulous story of hope, love, survival and friendship. If you need one recommendation for the coming year, this is it.
Buy The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey from Waterstones here.