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.
Obviously, my experience of reading this novel was extremely personal. It touched me deeply in a way that I'm not sure it would have had I not identified so closely with its emotional core. So I feel affection for The Snow Child that belies my disappointment in the novel as a whole. Eowyn Ivey's writing is enchanting, a pure pleasure to read. She fleshes out the landscape with striking and sensuous detail, saddles her characters with palpable pain and then blesses them with fleeting moments of contagious bliss. Every one of them is delightfully likeable, if not loveable. Despite the intimacy of their emotional lives, Ivey keeps her characters at a slight remove, which underscores their fairy-tale underpinnings, making them wistful and sweetly sad, rather than deeply, seriously sorrowful. (Reviewed by Lucia Silva).
Christie Hickman, S Magazine (UK)
In her debut novel, Ivey has achieved what can often take half a lifetime for other writers. She has re-created an entire world - both physically and emotionally - and married them into a unique narrative of heart-stopping beauty... It's a triumph.
Robert Goolrick, New York Times bestselling author of A Reliable Wife
If Willa Cather and Gabriel Garcia Marquez had collaborated on a book, The Snow Child would be it. It is a remarkable accomplishment - a combination of the most delicate, ethereal, fairytale magic and the harsh realities of homesteading in the Alaskan wilderness in 1918. Stunningly conceived, beautifully told, this story has the intricate fragility of a snowflake and the natural honesty of the dirt beneath your feet, the unnerving reality of a dream in the night. It fascinates, it touches the heart. It gallops along even as it takes time to pause at the wonder of life and the world in which we live. And it will stir you up and stay with you for a long, long time.
Keith Donohue, New York Times bestselling author of The Stolen Child The Snow Child is enchanting from beginning to end. Ivey breathes life into an old tale and makes it as fresh as the season's first snow. Simply lovely.
Sena Jeter Naslund, New York Times bestselling author of Ahab's Wife
A transporting tale... an amazing achievement.
Robert Morgan, author of Gap Creek The Snow Child is a vivid story of isolation and hope on the Alaska frontier, a narrative of struggle with the elements and the elemental conflict between one's inner demons and dreams, and the miracle of human connection and community in a spectacular, dangerous world. You will not soon forget this story of learning to accept the gifts that fate and love can bring.
Melanie Benjamin, author of Alice I Have Been
Eowyn Ivey's exquisite debut transports the reader away to a world almost out of time, into a fairytale destined to both chill and delight. Her portrayal of an untamed Alaska is so detailed you can feel the snowflakes on your own eyelashes, even as her characters' desperate quest for, and ultimate redemption by, love will warm your heart.
La Repubblica (Italy)
Enchanted, poignant, poetic.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by techeditor retelling of a Russian fairy tale THE SNOW CHILD by Eowyn Ivey is simply a retelling of a Russian fairy tale. It doesn’t live up to the many reviews of it that I read. The book is full of unanswered questions.
Rated of 5
by CarolK Achingly beautiful. How is it that someone who struggles with fantasy and more so with sci-fi can embrace fairy-tales so willingly? There may be a fine line between the two but the best way I have seen the differences described is that fairy-tales are handed down... Read More
Rated of 5
by Nikki Achingly beautiful! This was an enchanting, magical story. Don't miss it!
Rated of 5
by lamh transporting Definitely sets the scene of Alaska Wilderness. Not yet finished with the book, but love it so far.
Rated of 5
by Sandy The Snow Child From the very start I was absorbed into the Alaskan landscape with wonderful images painted by the author. Her descriptions of nature made me homesick for the New England of my own childhood. The characters came alive in my mind and are still... Read More
The Snow Child is based on a Russian fairy tale, Snegurochka. As told in the English versions (Arthur Ransome's "Little Daughter of the Snow," from Old Peter's Russian Tales and Andrew Lang's "Snowflake," from The Pink Fairy Book), a childless couple builds a girl out of the snow in a fit of playfulness, and she comes to life.
Ivey's book more closely follows Ransome's version, which also plays a part in the novel.
After Faina appears, Mabel recalls a fairytale that her father, a professor of literature, used to read to her from a Russian text. When she recovers the book, she returns to it again and again in both fear and hope, mining it for clues and answers to Faina's fate. If you don't want to find out what happens to Faina, don't read the fairy tales first - the novel reveals details of the fairytales at key points as Mabel...
From the celebrated twenty-nine-year-old author of the everywhere-heralded short-story collection St. Lucys Home for Girls Raised by Wolves comes a blazingly original debut novel that takes us back to the swamps of the Florida Everglades, and introduces us to Ava Bigtree, an unforgettable young heroine.
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