Book Review : The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

November 10, 2014 Book review 8 ★★★★★

This book was stunning!  As I was reading it I was nearly afraid to breath as I just didn’t want anything to break the magical spell that this book cast out over me.  It’s one of those totally unique books that don’t come around very often but when they do, I know I’ll treasure them forever.

Book Review : The Snow Child by Eowyn IveyThe Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
Published by Headline on 30th Aug 2012
Genres: Adult Fiction, Literary, Magical Realism
Pages: 406
Format: Paperback
Source: Bookbridgr

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.

First Line of The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey:

“Mabel had known there would be silence.”

My Thoughts on The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey:

This book is set in Alaska in the 1920s and features Mabel and Jack.  They are a childless couple who have left their families in the US to set up home in Alaska, in the wilderness, to escape all the happy families that surrounded them there.  The first part of the book is so poignant, especially for me as I identify with their pain, and I read with a lump in my throat.

There is no doubting the depth of their love for each other but there is raw pain in everything they do.  In the cold, hostile, remote environment where they have made their home, they lose each other a bit.  And then one night they build a snow child and strange things start to happen.  Out of their longing and despair, their snow child seems to come to life and a strange, wild, beautiful little girl enters their lives and their hearts.

The book is mystical and whimsical and I just loved every page of it.  The prose is beyond amazing.  It beautifully conjures up images, emotions and characters in a very unique and very unforgettable way.  There is so much contrast in this book; there is beauty and cruelty, there is desperation and hope, there is numbness and passion, there is fantasy and realism.

All the characters are very special.  Mabel is stubborn, proud, artistic and a born mother.  Jack is equally stubborn, a man who just wants to give his wife everything and feels a failure when he can’t.  They share pain but also moments of joy and when they are happy my heart just bursts with feels for them.    Faina (the snow child) is an enigma.  Just who she is or what she is will be different for every reader, I think anyway.

Their nearest neighbours add some fun and bustle to the book and I enjoyed their loud, jovial visits.  And Alaska is like another character in the book.  The depictions of the scenery and descriptions of the harsh but beautiful climate have woken up a fierce desire in me to visit.  I need to see the frozen lakes, the glacier fed valleys, the fields of unbroken white, feel the icy winds; it all just sounds invigorating and magnificent.

The story is based on a Russian fairytale “Little Daughter of the Snow’ and that story is woven in to the book in a very clever way.  It made me long to read that story too so I was delighted when I came to the end of The Snow Child to find it was also included.  Now my mission is to track down an illustrated version of that.

What I will warn about is that this a slow-moving plot.  It didn’t bother me, I was enthralled by it but if you are expecting fast and furious, you won’t get it there.  Instead you will get subtle, mystical and emotional which worked perfectly for me.

“In my old age, I see that life itself is often more fantastic and terrible than the stories we believed as children, and that perhaps there is no harm in finding magic among the trees.”

And no harm in finding books with that special magical pull either.  Overall I love it.  From the imaginative plot to the fully drawn characters to the AMAZING writing; this is a must-read.


Rating Report
Did I feel it?
Overall: five-stars


Who should read The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey?

I can’t recommend this enough.  If you enjoy fairy tale retellings, magical realism, lyrical writing; this is a high priority must read.

Thanks to Bookbridgr and Headline Review for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

Bookish Chat : Does this sound like something you’d like to read?  Or have you already read it?  And do you love that stunning cover as much as I do?  Also I haven’t read a lot of magical realism, is there any more you would recommend to me?  Or any books that are set in Alaska to help satisfy my wanderlust?!


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8 Responses to “Book Review : The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey”

  1. Angela Adams

    I’ve read this book…I had tears in my eyes from page one through the last page. I can’t remember a book more touching and filled with emotion. Thanks for the post!

    • trish

      I love hearing that it effecting someone else as much as it did me. I agree just so touching, it would melt the iciest of hearts!

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