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The Snow Child

The Snow Child

Book rating: 04 Paperback Review

By (author) Eowyn Ivey

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  • Publisher: Tinder Press
  • Format: Paperback | 448 pages
  • Dimensions: 130mm x 197mm x 29mm | 300g
  • Publication date: 30 August 2012
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0755380533
  • ISBN 13: 9780755380534
  • Sales rank: 2,664

Product description

An international bestseller and contemporary classic: a 2013 Pulitzer Prize Finalist. Alaska, the 1920s. Jack and Mabel have staked everything on a fresh start in a remote homestead, but the wilderness is a stark place, and Mabel is haunted by the baby she lost many years before. When a little girl appears mysteriously on their land, each is filled with wonder, but also foreboding: is she what she seems, and can they find room in their hearts for her? Written with the clarity and vividness of the Russian fairy tale from which it takes its inspiration, THE SNOW CHILD is a bewitching tale of heartbreak and hope.

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Author information

Eowyn Ivey's debut novel, THE SNOW CHILD, became an international bestseller. It was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize 2013, and Eowyn won the International Author of the Year category at the 2012 National Book Awards. Eowyn, a former bookseller and journalist, lives in Palmer, Alaska, with her husband and two daughters, whom they are raising in the same subsistence lifestyle Eowyn grew up in herself.

Customer reviews

By Jaakko Kourula 17 Aug 2012 5

I read this book in two days as I simply could not let it out of my hands. I have a feeling this might be the best fairytale retelling I've ever read. Very beautifully written story of a childless couple in the 1920's Alaska. I think one of the attributes of a masterful writer is the ability to make people resonate with the characters even if they lived a very different kind of life with very different kind of values. I doubt many books would make me relate to a woman in her fifties mourning her dead baby but the way Eowyn Ivey brings Mabel alive from the very first pages of this book, is very magical. This is a story of sorrow and joys, the hardships of life and maybe most of all a story of nature and our wild side. It is based on a Russian fairytale about childless man & woman making a child from snow and how the child becomes alive.The Snow Child is some kind of magical realism. It keeps its secrets and does not reveal everything but there is something that goes very deep in the very heart of humanity. I bet retelling a fairytale is not as easy as it seems but Eowyn Ivey has done a very good job here. I highly recommend this as it is definitely one of the best books I've read this year and maybe ever. If you love winter, you will love this one!

By Laura Williams 16 May 2012 3

This is a difficult book to review as it's simply not the kind of book which I would usually be enthusiastic about. You might wonder why I picked it as my Audible download of the month, in that case, right? Well, the blurb intrigued me and the cover enchanted me. I had hopes of a haunting narrative, evocative of old, dark fairy tales. What I got was something different.

Ivey creates a phenomenally beautiful sense of place and it is evident that she is intimately familiar with the Alaskan wilderness she describes. The detail given to the surroundings was definitely my favourite aspect of the story. However, I felt that the characters weren't nearly as vivid. I have a suspicion that Ivey did this deliberately as the lack of colour given to either Jack or Mabel was indicative of their ailing relationship.

Jack and Mabel move to Alaska to start anew and to escape their old, childless life. But the move isn't the cure they had hoped it would be. Instead their lives have grown dismal and silent. It is only when the little girl, Faina, enters their lives that things begin to look up.

I had some issues with this. Now, the book was set in the 1920s and Jack and Mabel are described as being an older couple from the outset of the novel. However, it's not like adoption didn't exist, (see here for a timeline of adoption history). If the couple wanted a kid as badly as described, then there were options.

This is one of those books which is going to get four or five stars from a whole bunch of reviewers. It's beautifully written... but in my opinion, it was also slow. Actually, it goes further than that; I think it was dull.

Very little happens for about seventy percent of the novel, and when things do happen they happen slowly. Until the very end. The last few chapters of the book felt rushed and desperate to me, as though Ivey just wanted to be done with it. She added a third point of view, she skipped about six years in a leap, she seemed to forget all about the themes of hope and grief surrounding Jack and Mabel. After building a story around two characters, I had little/no emotional connection to Faina and Garrett. Their story, to me, felt like a grasped straw.

I am definitely in the minority. This book has an average Goodreads rating of 4.06 out of 5 and it is highly praised in the reader reviews there. It is described as "gorgeous" and "magic" and "heartbreakingly beautiful". While I do agree with these sentiments on some level, I prefer books with a bit more pace and action.

This is a nice book, it's just not my cup of tea. Therefore, I'm going to give The Snow Child three stars.

Review quote

'A magical, heartbreaking story... gorgeous' Marie Claire 'It's the harsh beauty of the landscape that gives this stunning first novel its unique shape and atmosphere' The Times 'It is an exceptional book that deserves to melt millions of hearts' Sunday Express 'A story about finding love in unexpected places... full of fire and ice' Financial Times