Book Review: The Snow Child

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

The blurb: A bewitching tale of heartbreak and hope set in 1920s Alaska.

Jack and Mabel have staked everything on making a fresh start for themselves in a homestead ‘at the world’s edge’ in the raw Alaskan wilderness. But as the days grow shorter, Jack is losing his battle to clear the land, and Mabel can no longer contain her grief for the baby she lost many years before.

The evening the first snow falls, their mood unaccountably changes. In a moment of tenderness, the pair are surprised to find themselves building a snowman – or rather a snow girl – together. The next morning, all trace of her has disappeared, and Jack can’t quite shake the notion that he glimpsed a small figure – a child? – running through the spruce trees in the dawn light. And how to explain the little but very human tracks Mabel finds at the edge of their property?

Written with the clarity and vividness of the Russian fairytale from which it takes its inspiration, The Snow Child is an instant classic – the story of a couple who take a child into their hearts, all the while knowing they can never truly call her their own.

My review: The Snow Child is a lovely and magical book, a debut from Eowyn Ivey set in the remote and sometimes lonely landscape of Alaska.

It tells the tale of a middle aged couple who  relocate to a farmstead in Alaska to try and cope with their grief of losing a child some years before. Jack and Mabel are lost, unable to communicate with each other and the bleak snowy landscape seems to reflect the chill in their hearts. Until one night they make a snow child which slowly brings them back to life and like the thaw in the Spring creates warmth and light.(I am trying not to give too much away!)

Alaska is as much a part of this book as the characters and can be both beautiful and destructive. Ivey is adept at bringing all of this to life, I feel almost as though I have been there and witnessed the silence, the sense you are being watched, the magic of wishing fervently for something and the danger of wishful thinking.

Raw emotions, loneliness, hope, joy they resound with the reader and make this a book that will haunt your thoughts at random moments in the day.

8 out of 10 stars! ********

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