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.
For anyone who regularly reads my blog, yes – I know this is an adult fiction title. And no, I can’t remember the last time I read one! The Snow Child has been sat on my shelf for a long time. It came out in 2012 to a big hype, being named as a Richard and Judy Bestseller. I remember thinking the cover was beautiful and the story sounded amazing. So I decided to buy it, despite it not being one of my usual reads. And it has sat untouched ever since. Its got to have been 7 years… My bad!
I finally got round to reading it though, and I was right to add it to the pile of books forever waiting to be read. It was a bestseller for a reason. Its beautiful, its breathtakingly beautiful. Its sad. And it hooks you instantly. There’s something about the cold Alaskan setting and the idea of Jack and Mabel not having enough to see through the winter that made me need to keep reading. There was something captivating about the girl who comes to them in the snow. And there was something magical about the whole story.
Its set in the early 1900s so times are very different. Though they were also a little wild, due to the setting. Alaska doesn’t seem to have been a very well populated place, with the government selling off land cheaply to try and get more people in the area. There was a lot of interesting things about history at this time in America and this book nodded to it all in a subtle way.
I think the main reason I loved this book was because it surrounded the idea of loving someone, watching them grow and having to let them go. There was a lot of being their own person mentioned, both in Jack and Mabels life and their friends’ lives. I loved seeing the two families grow and coming together too.
I loved the fantasy element of this book and how it was intertwined with the Russian tale of the Snow Maiden. I want to read more about that fairytale now and discover the magic that lay within that too.
The Snow Child was published in 2021 by Tinder Press.