I know one shouldn't judge a book by its cover but the cover gives such an impact with just two colours that I couldn't help but be impressed by it. It captures the essence of the novel so well - haunting, ethereal and completely captivating.
Jack and Mabel have moved to Alaska for a fresh start, one that is increasingly difficult to sustain. On a particularly rare occasion of fun they make a little girl out of snow, dressing her in mittens and a scarf. In the days that follow they start seeing a little girl on their property. Is she real? How did she end up alone in such a place? Can they be the family they hoped for?
The fairy tale this novel was inspired by was one I am only slightly familiar with: the Russian folk tale Snegurochka, or The Snow Maiden. The short story in the back retells The Snow Maiden it in the wonderful way of a grandfather telling stories to his grandchildren. It's such a beautiful, if sad, story, that it is easy to see why the author was inspired by it.
The Snow Child isn't a straight re-telling of the original folk tale. Instead, it weaves the tale into its own unique take. From the moment I started reading this book I was hooked. The sense of place is so strong it almost feels like you are there in Alaska, feeling the cold and isolation with the characters. But even in the wilderness, there is so much beauty, if you just look for it, which is really what this book is about.
If the original folk tale was anything to go by, I must admit to be expecting The Snow Child to be rip-my-heart-out-and-stomp-on-it sad. The kind of book that you hold clutching to your chest with one hand while the other searches for tissues or something to stop the flow of tears. But I didn't have to use the tissues after all. Instead the author lures the reader through the book in a way that makes them come to terms with the fated ending. It's touching, and a little sad, but the message of beauty, and family, and strength even under the harshest circumstances, wins out, and I was left with a positive feeling.
Review by Kirsty Win
Read Chelsey's interview with the author, Eowyn Ivey.
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