BookBrowse has a new look! Learn more about the update here.

Reviews of The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

The Snow Child

A Novel

by Eowyn Ivey
  • Critics' Opinion:
  • Readers' Opinion:
  • First Published:
  • Feb 1, 2012
  • Paperback:
  • Nov 2012
  • Rate this book

  • Buy This Book

About This Book

Book Summary

Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart. In a moment of levity 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.

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.

Chapter 1
Wolverine River, Alaska, 1920

Mabel had known there would be silence. That was the point, after all. No infants cooing or wailing. No neighbor children playfully hollering down the lane. No pad of small feet on wooden stairs worn smooth by generations, or clackety-clack of toys along the kitchen floor. All those sounds of her failure and regret would be left behind, and in their place there would be silence.

She had imagined that in the Alaska wilderness silence would be peaceful, like snow falling at night, air filled with promise but no sound, but that was not what she found. Instead, when she swept the plank floor, the broom bristles scritched like some sharp-toothed shrew nibbling at her heart. When she washed the dishes, plates and bowls clattered as if they were breaking to pieces. The only sound not of her making was a sudden "caw, cawww" from outside. Mabel wrung dishwater from a rag and looked out the kitchen window in time to see a raven flapping its way ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!
  1. When Mabel first arrives in Alaska, it seems a bleak and lonely place to her. Does her sense of the land change over time? If so, how?
  2. Why are Jack and Mabel emotionally estranged from each other in the beginning of the novel, and how are they able to overcome that?
  3. How do Esther Benson and Mabel differ in temperament, and how does their friendship change Mabel?
  4. The first time Garrett sees Faina in person is when he spies her killing a wild swan. What is the significance of this scene?
  5. In what ways does Faina represent the Alaska wilderness?
  6. Jack and Mabel's only child is stillborn. How does this affect Mabel's relationship with Faina?
  7. When Jack is injured, Esther and Garret move to their farm to help them. How does this ...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!
  • award image

    Indie Booksellers’ Choice Awards
    2013

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

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...continued

Full Review (687 words)

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by Lucia Silva).

Media Reviews

Stylist Magazine (UK)
This is a wonderful book.

La Repubblica (Italy)
Enchanted, poignant, poetic.

TARA Magazine (Norway)
Can melt a frozen soul.

Library Journal
Starred Review. A fluid, absorbing, beautifully executed debut novel; highly recommended.

Kirkus Reviews
A fine first novel that enlivens familiar themes of parenthood and battles against nature.

Author Blurb 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.

Author Blurb 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.

Author Blurb 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.

Author Blurb 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.

Author Blurb 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.

Author Blurb Sena Jeter Naslund, New York Times bestselling author of Ahab's Wife
A transporting tale... an amazing achievement.

Reader Reviews

Cathryn Conroy

A Delightful Story of Magical Realism That Is Ideal Reading on a Cold Winter Night
I first read this magnificent book by Eowyn Ivey in 2014 and reread it now for my book club. It's even better the second time around! This is a delightful tale mixed in equal parts with fantasy and realism--so much so that it's hard to tell which ...   Read More
Gina B

Enchanting and mystical
I am a big fan of fairy tales and folklore in the vein of the Brothers Grimm. This tale has been told over the centuries with variations from country to country. But this current retelling, which is based in the Alaskan wilderness of the 1920's, ...   Read More
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
Nikki

Achingly beautiful!
This was an enchanting, magical story. Don't miss it!

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book



Snegurochka

Snegurochka

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.

Snow Maiden 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...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The Snow Child, try these:

  • The Great Alone jacket

    The Great Alone

    by Kristin Hannah

    Published 2019

    About this book

    More by this author

    From the author of The Nightingale, comes a story of a family in crisis and a young girl struggling to survive at the edge of the world, in America's last true frontier.

  • Enon jacket

    Enon

    by Paul Harding

    Published 2014

    About this book

    More by this author

    A stunning mosaic of human experience, Enon affirms Paul Harding as one of the most gifted and profound writers of his generation.

We have 10 read-alikes for The Snow Child, but non-members are limited to two results. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
More books by Eowyn Ivey
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Become a Member

Join BookBrowse today to start
discovering exceptional books!
Find Out More

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: A Gentleman and a Thief
    A Gentleman and a Thief
    by Dean Jobb
    In the Roaring Twenties—an era known for its flash and glamour as well as its gangsters and ...
  • Book Jacket: Early Sobrieties
    Early Sobrieties
    by Michael Deagler
    Dennis Monk is sober now, and he expects some applause. Or at least some recognition that he's ...
  • Book Jacket: The Coin
    The Coin
    by Yasmin Zaher
    A popular choice for book jackets in recent years, perhaps especially in the historical fiction ...
  • Book Jacket: The Night of Baba Yaga
    The Night of Baba Yaga
    by Akira Otani, Sam Bett
    When Yoriko Shindo gets into a brawl on a busy street in 1970s Tokyo, she has no idea what the ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Lady Tan's Circle of Women
by Lisa See
Lisa See's latest historical novel, inspired by the true story of a woman physician from 15th-century China.
Book Jacket
The 1619 Project
by Nikole Hannah-Jones
An impactful expansion of groundbreaking journalism, The 1619 Project offers a revealing vision of America's past and present.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Very Long, Very Strange Life of Isaac Dahl
    by Bart Yates

    A saga spanning 12 significant days across nearly 100 years in the life of a single man.

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

L T C O of the B

and be entered to win..

Win This Book
Win Smothermoss

Smothermoss by Alisa Alering

A haunting, imaginative, and twisting tale of two sisters and the menacing, unexplained forces that threaten them and their rural mountain community.

Enter