Paperback, 423 pages
Published 30th August 2012 by Headline Review
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...
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My thanks go to Headline for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
Though it may sound silly, I am always a little scared of reading books that I have high hopes for. I've only seen positive, rave reviews for The Snow Child which on one hand is fantastic, but also gave me very, very high expectations. I am also a sucker for anything story with a snowy backdrop, so I knew that I had to try this one out. After reading both the blurb and reviews and finding out that the book was now available in paperback, I had to get a copy and try it out!
I usually like reading books that feature snowy or wintery backdrops in winter, but reading this book in summer was certainly not a problem - the author managed to pull me into the book almost straight away. I was thrown into the setting and could sense the atmosphere, feel the cold - everything was so vivid. From the very first chapter, it was clear to me that Eowyn Ivey has a talent for writing. There is nothing pretentious about this book. The writing flows very well and is really captivating. This was an effortless read for me - I devoured it, reading page after page without realising where the time was going. The story is quite simple, yet still holds complexity. I find it very difficult to describe this book as I feel that there's only really one word that fits it, and that is magical.
The plot of this book revolves around an adult couple, Mabel and Jack, who have not had children of their own but wish they had. One night, they build a snow child which soon disappears, but from then on, they see a girl in the woods near their house. There is a slight paranormal feel to this book at the start, but definitely nothing to put off those who prefer realism - I am sure that this book will appeal to those who enjoy magical realism and even those who don't. As I've said, I really got sucked into this book and into the story - it was so easy to live through the characters and to empathise with them.
Every single character played their part and held their own. All characters were well written and formed. There was no character that I disliked or that I found lacking. Whilst reading, I was Mabel, I was Jack, I was Faina... Our main characters were all incredible. I could feel all of Mabel's diverse, raw emotions - her connection with the snow child was especially full of emotion. Though I didn't shed a tear or physically felt heart wrenched, I was emotionally connected to this book from the first page to the last. I loved reading about the friends of Mabel and Jack too, they really added another dimension to the book and helped the story to progress a huge amount. It was fascinating to see how all the characters interacted, especially once Faina was visibly around all of them.
This is a book that really does need to be experienced. This is a truly beautiful, emotive and magical (in every sense of the word) book. It's a story that will certainly be staying with me for a while. If you haven't already read this book, please do - it definitely won't be something that you'll regret.