The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Eowyn Ivey’s first novel, The Snow Child, is a treasure. Set in remote Alaska in 1920, the story of Jack and Mabel unfolds. They have moved to this remote place to start over, to escape the sorrow of being childless, and the memory of a stillborn baby. But the brutal life begins to takes it’s toll on them – Jack from the staggering amount of physical labor, and Mabel from the isolation and sadness that has followed her. In an unexpected moment of joy during the first snowfall, they build a snow child, and dress her with a hat and mittens. The next morning, the child and clothing are gone, but footprints lead to the woods. Soon, they begin to see a young girl and her red fox running through the trees. Is she real, or a figment of their imagination, created out of a desperate longing? Mabel recalls a Russian fairy tale of a child made of snow who disappears when the snow melts, and waits breathlessly each time until the girl who calls herself Faina reappears. Though she is easily scared off, over time Jack and Mabel grow to know and love Faina, though they never fully understand the mystery that surrounds her.

The Snow Child reads as equal parts survival story, realistic fiction, and fairy tale. The descriptive prose in this novel made both the harsh Alaskan climate, as well as the lonliness and desperate longing the characters felt come to life.
This was a captivating story which I wanted to linger over, but found myself racing through, all the while not wanting it to end. I read the last 50 pages with my breath held – almost paralyzed with fear over the possible endings.

I’ve recommended The Snow Child to many people since reading it, and it’s one of my new favorites. I’m anxiously awaiting Ivey’s next novel.

Find and request this book in our catalog.

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