Title: The Snow Child
Author: Eowyn Ivey
Genre: Fiction/ Romance/ Fantasy
Favourite Quote: “She slid her boot soles onto the surface and nearly laughed at her own absurdity – to be careful not to slip even as you prayed to fall through. She was several feet from safe ground when she allowed herself to stop and peer down between her boots. It was like walking on glass. She could see granite rocks beneath the moving, deep-turquoise water. A yellow leaf floated by, and she imagined herself swept alongside it and briefly looking up through the remarkably clear ice. Before the water filled her lungs, would she be able to see the sky?”
I first read this book a few years ago, it was given to me as a christmas present from my sister. I really appreciate the gift as my family don’t think of giving someone a book as a present. I immediately read the story and found it to be truly heartwarming and beautiful. You just need to read the description on the back to see that it’s going to be a lovely magical story;
‘This book is real magic, shot through from cover to cover with the cold, wild beauty of the Alaskan frontier; Eowyn Ivey writes with all the captivating delicacy of the snowfalls she so beautifully describes’
How can you not fall in love with it already.
It’s a story about an older married couple, Jack and Mabel, who decided it was best to leave their home and family in Pennsylvania and find a fresh start. They chose to settle down in Alaska far away from the reminder of what they had lost, a stillborn child. Filled with grief, Mabel became lonely and depressed with thoughts of suicide, with only Jack to hold her in place. Jack kept himself busy by making sure he and Mabel survived the harsh winter by building up and working on the land around them. You can feel the subtle sorrow they still feel 10 years later coming out of the pages of the book which emphasises the cold isolated environment they are now living in.
When the first snow came, in a moment of youthful spirit, they decided to make a snowman which they moulded into a beautiful young girl with long blond hair. The next day, they discovered the snow child had vanished along with the scarf and mittens they had given her. A few days later, they both start seeing a young girl running through the trees near their cabin with a fox companion.
‘There was the child herself, her face a mirror of the one Jack sculpted in the snow, her eyes like ice itself. It was fantastical and impossible, but Mabel knew it was true – she and Jack had formed her of snow and birch boughs and frosty wild grass. The truth awed her. Not only was the child a miracle, but she was their creation. One does not create a life and then abandon it to the wilderness.’
At first they thought they were just seeing things, then they both quickly realised that she was real. Real enough to see the blond hair, scarf and mittens and her bright icy blue eyes staring up at them. The child kept vanishing when they approached her as if she was a startled animal, but she always came back to observe Jack and Mabel and their daily routine in and around the cabin.
‘The he noticed what looked like a small door set into the hillside beneath a rounded dome of snow. He could go to that little door and call out to the girl, but he didn’t. What did he expect to find? A fairy-tale beast that holds young girls captive in a mountain cave? A cackling witch? Or nothing at all, no child, no tracks, no door, only insanity bared in the untouched snow? That is perhaps what he feared the most, that he would discover he had followed nothing more than an illusion. Rather than face that possibility, Jack turned his back on the little door and set out for home.’
The young child began to trust their company and was soon leaving gifts of berries and game on their doorstep and soon she started joining them for dinner inside the cabin. Mabel and Jack discovered her name to be Faina and began to understand that she lived on her own in the wilderness but was more than capable looking after herself. They had no choice but to accept that she would always disappear back into the woods with her fox companion but she would always come back, whether it was to eat, to watch Mabel sketch or roam the woods with Jack. Faina became the daughter they never had.
It’s a lovely enchanting story that will draw you in and make you feel like you’re a part of the snowy Alaskan wilderness. It’s full of enchantment and a family connection that will pull at your heartstrings. It’s a story I will definitely keep picking up again and again in the future.
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.