Eowyn Ivey - The Snow Child - Book Review

The Snow Child

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Review (1 Feb 2012)
  • Age - Teen
  • ISBN: 978-0755380527

When I received this book through the post, from the very lovely people at Headline, my first thought was whether this book really fitted into my area of interest. The synopsis sounded bleak, and yet the book cover suggested much more. The tactile title (impressed onto the brilliant blue cover) and the image of a girl and fox in a wood suggested that I should try this. Especially as I have already admitted to judging a book by its cover in an earlier book review.

The book was slow to start. In fact it was almost like peeling an onion - the more I read, the more layers of the story I uncovered. Set in the 1920's a middle-aged couple (Jack and Mabel) move to Alaska. They leave all of their family behind in order to make a fresh start for themselves. Interestingly, they choose the harshest of surroundings; the Alaskan wilderness. Written with such amazing detail, the Alaskan wilderness, is portrayed with crisp accuracy. At times I felt like I was really there; watching the snowflakes floating to the ground and smelling the icy cold rivers. 

The story is about the seeking of happiness and belonging. Coping with the grief of a lost baby, Jack and Mabel try to make a fresh start in Alaska. However, The Snow Child (Faina) enters the story and changes their lonely, isolated existence into one of initial joy. 

At first I turned the pages with trepidation, but then I wanted to know much more about this mysterious character. Initially I thought she was a figment of their imagination or perhaps a fanciful notion from a Russian myth. As a result, the suspense (for me) came from working out what was imaginary and what was real. 

Faina was an absolute joy to read - following her life as it unfolded beneath the sky. Particularly when she met Garret, one of the Benson sons, who helped out on the homestead. This friendship soon turned into more and of course everything started to change - soon Faina and Garret began to embark on their own life. The beautiful and touching ending will have you feeling a number of emotions and a deep longing for it not to be so. 

This is a fantastic story that has been written by a debut author. She has conjured up a magical adventure that I could not leave - the natural and savage beauty of Alaska was captivating. The book has left an everlasting impression on me; I loved every minute of it.