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The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey – Untimely Book Review

The Snow Child
A book blogger I know claims many of them end up reviewing books ages after they come out, so calling these “Untimely Book Reviews” doesn’t say much. Ultimately, I’m not as much of a precious little snowflake as I’d like.

Which leads me neatly into The Snow Child! Set in 1920s Alaska, written by authentic Alaskan Eowyn Ivey, this novel re-imagines a Russian fairy tale about a childless older couple who fashion a child out of a snow and, seemingly through hope alone, find she has come to life. But how long will she be able to stay?

Once Upon A Snow Child

When composing this review in my head, I considering comparing this book to the rash of fairy tale adaptations stalking the popular culture, such as TV’s Once Upon A Time or Grimm, or cinema’s Snow White And The Huntsman and that new Hansel & Gretel which looks terrible.

But that seems insulting, because The Snow Child has little in common with them beyond that superficial point – or perhaps it plays the same game and wins. After all, those mostly use the fairytales to provide resonance for general fantasy. Whereas this book genuinely feels like a retelling of the original with modern storytelling sensibilities, putting us in the moment with the characters without forcing us through a filter of meta first.

Hug Your Kindle Today!

But no, this is a lovely, sad yet hopeful book. Even before the titular child turns up, the portrayal of Jack and Mabel’s relationship, their different yet complimentary views of life, is thorough and convincing.

And then the sad march towards the inevitable end, while I sat hugging my Kindle and hoping it wouldn't happen. The descriptions of life in Alaska are beautifully done, and even though the child’s fairytale origins are incorporated into the story, it never feels like an overdone fantasy – everything is so practical and realistic that the “magical” elements never take you out of the story. Hell, you could just explain everything away with regular physics if you wanted.

In short, The Snow Child is a sweet, absorbing story – well written and just the right side of sentimental rather than saccharine. It might've outstayed its welcome if it ran much longer, but I liked the length we got here. Recommended.


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