Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Snow Child

A fantastic winter folktale, bleak and beautiful

 

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Reagan Arthur / Back Bay Books

The Snow Child is a beautifully written story inspired by a Russian fairy tale. In a rare moment of playfulness, a childless couple named Jack and Mabel lovingly create a little girl made of snow. The next day, the snow person is gone but Jack and Mabel begin seeing glimpses and finding evidence of a young girl in the woods near their homesteading cabin. Jack and Mabel have come to Alaska in the 1920s with hopes of a new start. They’re barely surviving on the return from their crops, farmed exclusively by Jack, while Mabel makes baked goods for a little extra money. They’re considering admitting defeat and leaving Alaska behind when new connections with others in the area, including the mysterious snow child, give them new hope.

The atmospheric differences in the writing between the spare, exhausting, isolated despair of Jack and Mabel at the beginning of the story, the fairy tale quality and magic-around-the edges storyline involving the child, and the later connections the stoic couple makes – in their own relationship and with other hardy frontier families in the area – are really striking and give the story depth. I enjoyed reading this very much, beginning to end. Ms. Ivey’s created a wonderful, quality story. I predict it’ll be one of my top reads for the year.