The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
The Snow Child is Eowyn Ivey’s highly anticipated debut novel, published on the 16th of February 2012 by Tinder Press.
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 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 snowgirl is gone, footsteps lead away from where it was and 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?
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey review
This modern fairytale is most definitely one of the most beautiful and heartwarming (and occasionally heartbreaking) 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 in love. I was stunned by the beauty of the writing and the vivid imagery that 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 she has a wonderful story arc. You follow her through the trials and tribulations of survival and finding hope in darkest 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. There is also 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 beginning.
In short, I adored this book and just didn’t want it 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.
If you like this you’ll love The Bear and The Nightingale by Katherine Arden.