Title: The Snow Child
Author: Eowyn Ivey
Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books
Publication Date: 2012
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart–he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm, she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning, the snow child is gone–but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.
The Snow Child has been hanging out on my Goodreads to-read shelf for quite a while, so I was thrilled to discover it buried in a used bookshop. Of course I’ve bought it and I’m so glad I did because it was a wintery tale of folklore, love, and loss. Jack and Mabel are haunted by a loss that left them childless. They’ve walked away from the life of friends, family, and comfort that they once had to find solace and solitude in the frozen north. A homestead in Alaska is where they settle, making a home for themselves in a remove town. They are visiting by a girl who walks across the snow, making no sound, and living mysteriously off the land in a harsh winter landscape. Faina bring a joy that Jack and Maybel could have never imagined. She bring a strange beauty into their household with all the wonder of a fairy tale.
This story was magical and mysterious. It shows us the joy that winter can bring, even though it’s an unforgiving climate. Mabel remembers a Russian fable read to her as a child of a girl made of snow and come to life who melts when her fox is killed and the warm weather comes. Faina embodies this wintery girl, with her fox and her affinity for surviving off the wintery land. I’m not one who enjoy the cold very much, but Ivey has a skill for making you want to jump right into the pages to join her characters in this new and wondrous life. Ivey shows us the beauty of the Alaskan winter, the necessity of close friends, and magic of snow. It’s a story full of surprises, inner strength, and immense beauty. A must read!