The first words that come to mind when I think about The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey is a heartbreakingly beautiful fairytale.
Ivey’s first novel is a wonderful story of that truly felt like a whimsical fairytale complete with fanatical setting and characters. Like almost any fairytale, I know this one will stay with me for quite awhile.
Besides the blurb on the back of the book, the first page instantly drew me in. Ivey’s writing is full of magic that pulled a little of my inner child out but connected just as well with my adult self.
“To believe, perhaps you had to cease looking for explanations and instead hold the little thing in your hands as long as your were able before it slipped like water between your fingers.”
The story starts out with us meeting Jack and Mabel, homesteaders new to the Alaskan wild in the 1920s. They are childless and slowly drifting apart; he’s trying not to break under the weight of the farm work and she’s slowly breaking out of loneliness and sadness. But one night, during the first snowfall of the year, they see a little of who they used to be and build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone, but they both begin glimpsing a young blonde girl traipsing through the woods. Slowly but surely, the young girl, Faina, becomes to adopt Jack and Mabel as her own just as Jack and Mabel adopt Faina as their own. And so their journey begins.
Initially I was afraid that I would find the plot boring, but the characters are really well written. That’s one of the things that I really loved about this book is that everything was well written and added something to the overall story: the setting, the characters, the seasons, and what Jack and Mabel went through externally and internally. Everything connected together to create this beautiful story of family, love, and perserveness.
“In my old age, I see that life is often more fantastic and terrible than stories we believed as children, and that perhaps there is no harm in finding magic among the trees.”
While I enjoyed the overall plot, a small section of the middle of the book was a little slow for me. It allowed for great character development, but a little of the magic was missing since it took place during the summer and fall and the book went through several seasons pretty quickly. The third part of the book had a lot of things happen predictably for me, but somehow Ivey was able to keep the magic alive and beautiful within the pages. The only thing that didn’t seem to have that big of importance in the story was the fox that accompanied Faina in the woods. It allowed for Faina and another important character to meet later in the story, but at the same time, the blurb made it seem like a much bigger thing.
I forget how much I enjoy well written stories that could seemingly happen to anyone, anywhere. While I will always enjoy a good adventure or fantasy book, sometimes it’s nice to read a book more focused on the characters and their life, their relationships, and their thoughts and dreams.
“We never know what is going to happen, do we? Life is always throwing us this way and that. That’s where the adventure is. Not knowing where you’ll end up or how you’ll fare. It’s all a mystery, and when we say any different, we’re just lying to ourselves. Tell me, when have you felt most alive?”
Like the quote above, this book held a lot of wisdom that I connected with. Jack and Mabel, like anyone of us, always had a frustration about them because they couldn’t be sure if they were going to be okay, if they would survive the beautiful wild of Alaska. Yet they stuck together as partners and preserved and ultimately remembered that you no one ever knows what really comes next. And when joy and love and wonderful things appear in your life, you hold it tight and embrace it for as long as you are able.
This book was absolutely beautiful if not slightly bittersweet, but I would definitely recommend it to anyone willing to take a little time to enjoy it.
Have you had the pleasure of reading The Snow Child? What were your thoughts?
Reading Challenge Prompts Satisfied:
Sorry I’m Booked 2017: Fairy Tale Inspired