Title: The Snow Child
Author: Eowyn Ivey
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Fairytale Retelling
Rating: 4.5 Star rounded up to 5
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.
Review – MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Normally I would round a rating up or down if it lands on a .5, however, I can’t do that this time. I loved this book so much I can’t give it a 4, but the ending prevents me from just giving it a 5.
But gosh this story was just so beautiful, I think it was by far the most beautiful one I have read this year.
No warm blood in me doth glow, water in my veins doth flow.
Yet I’ll laugh and sing and play, by frosty night and frosty day.
Little daughter of the snow.
But whenever I do know, that you love me little,
Then I shall melt away again, back into the sky I’ll go.
Little daughter of the snow.
We are presented with an old sad couple that seem to be in a never ending cycle of sadness and despair after giving birth to a still born baby, neither of them knowing how to get nor really trying to get out. In a rare moment of happiness they go outside in the snow in the new home in Alaska and decide to build themselves a little girl out of snow. The next morning their creation is destroyed and there are foot prints only leading away from where the snow child once stood, and a small figure appearing and disappearing at the edge of the trees wearing a blue coat and red scarf. Then the little wild, spirited girl Faina enters their lives.
I still don’t even know where to start with this review. The entire time we are reading we are just thinking and thinking about how Faina came to be. Is she a child born from snow as is told in Mabel’s storybook? Or is she a poor orphan child that has grown up in the wilderness as is suggest by the events we encounter with Jack? And if she isn’t a mystical being, how does that explain that ending?
To believe, perhaps you had to cease looking for explanations and instead hold the little thing in your hands as long as you were able before it slipped like water between your fingers.
One structural thing, that was at least in my ebook copy of the story, that I found really interesting was that when anyone was talking to Faina or ever really just about her, their words don’t have any quotation marks, but when they are having conversations about or to anyone else while Faina wasn’t involved, quotation marks were used.
The introduction of Faina in their lives, not only gives them something to love and be joyous about, but it also teaches them that even when she isn’t around there are still things to love and still people that care. I feel she taught them that you can’t run from your problems at that there is still things to be happy and hopeful about.
We are allowed to do that, are we not Mabel? To invent our own endings and choose joy over sorrow?
Through her they find their love for each other, and their love for this new land that they live in. I have to say that I felt that love too. I just wanted to dive into the pages and play in the snow and run with foxes and be as mysterious and fleeting as snowflakes on the wind. Faina was an entity that was just out of reach and something we never really completely felt part of. She was just too mystical.
I think the friends they make in Alaska are the sweetest people ever. When they help them with the farm despite the protests and basically just move into their house, my heart melted for our old couple. I really like the relationship that was developed between Jack and Mabel and Garret. It took me awhile to see where that section of the story was going but by the time it happened I had accepted and saw there was no other way for it to go. I was freaking out about it the whole time though. With the state of Faina ever being in question many of the events had me panicking.
Then the ending. Oh the ending. I will not go into detail about because I don’t want to wreck a book I want everyone to read, but the ending though was one we thought could of been coming, it didn’t leave me feeling complete. Something was wrong with it and it kind of shattered this beautiful sad and mystical feeling that I had been enjoying throughout the book.
So yes, read this book. I think many people should at least give it ago. If you are looking for something action packed and fast paced, I think you should stay away. Far away. But if you are looking for something more subtle and flowing, much like the flow of a creek or the fall of light snow, then you need to pick this up. Just beware the ending.
Till Next Time…