TITLE: The Snow Child
AUTHOR: Eowyn Ivey
PUBLISHER: Headline Review
GENRE: Fairy Tale Retelling, Magical Realism, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
RATING: 5/5 Stars
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?
What I Liked:
- The writing. Eowyn Ivey is absolutely flawless in her delivery of this emotional and gripping story. Everything about it, the language, the style, is executed so well that I was totally sucked in every time I opened this book. In fact I couldn't wait until the next moment that I could re-open and enjoy it once more. Each chapter is short, but I find that I like a book that is broken up well, it makes it easier to read.
- The setting. Ivey's writing style allows her to fully immerse us in the world of her story. The wilderness of Alaska is beautifully described and I swear I could see every tree, every snowflake and every animal track that was described to me.
- The story-line. Wow, just wow. This plot is just beautiful. For those that know the fairy tale (which I did) you actually have a sense of what will happen at the end of the story. I won't reveal the ending, but this story is tragic and heart-wrenching to say the least. And yet you continually want more, I loved the detailed insight that Ivey gave into the lives, and yet the story runs over a number of years. She just got it perfect in my eyes.
- The characters. Once again, I'm amazed and taken aback by how emotionally connected I felt to the plight of Jack and Mabel. I have read books before where I have liked characters but while reading this book it just felt like these two characters had something more than in previous books I had read. I sympathized with them, laughed alongside them, cried for them and enjoyed their tender affection for each other so much that watching it grow, having been buried for so long, was a joy to read. The other characters in the book? Wonderfully written also. The Bensons just made me smile every time they popped up, and Faina was every bit the captivating, fairy-like child I expected her to be. Wonderful!
What I Disliked:
- At this point, as you can imagine, I'm struggling to think of things about this book that I disliked. I think in all the reviews I've written so far, this has been the hardest to think of one for, which is a huge nod to Ivey's skill. Perhaps, if anything, the ending was a little abrupt. The obvious and heavily foreshadowed ending may have felt a little too rushed for me but that is probably because I was desperately hoping (while crying my eyes out) that it wasn't happening and something was going to come along and make the happy ending I was after.
This book is just a phenomenal read and has become a firm favourite of mine. I would certainly read it again and again, and I would recommend it to everyone because it is just beautiful. I challenge anyone to find me a better retelling of this Russian Fairy-tale than the one I have just read. Also, the original tale is included in the book, at the end! I thought that was a nice touch. Well done Eowyn Ivey, you made me cry and I loved it. She is releasing, it seems, another book named 'Shadows On the Wolverine' in 2015, and that is definitely going on my 'Books I am looking forward to being released' list, I only wish there was another of her works that I could read while I wait!