Posted in Fantasy, reviews

contains snow and spoilers

The Snow Child

By Eowyn Ivey (Goodreads Author)

I read this book because gavreads recommended  it to me. The story begins when a couple move to a snowy rural farm to recover from the death of a child. But, they find that they cannot escape either themselves or their grief. In addition, times are hard. Due to their lack of farming knowledge and their unwillingness to draw on the expertise of their neighbours, their crops are dying. They do not think that they will make it through the winter.  Their marriage is falling apart. Then it snows. In a rare playful moment, they build a snow child. As the weeks go by, weird things begin to happen.  The pair get glimpses of an unreachable child, who is always in the shadows- flitting between the trees.

Gradually, however,  the sightings become more vivid.  The child becomes an obliging spirit helping the husband catch the moose  that will allow them  to survive the winter. The child starts to visit but refuses to sleep in their house. Throughout the winter, they enjoy her company, feeling that they have been given a child to replace the one that they have lost. Inevitably, however, the child vanishes with the snow. Their luck goes with her. The husband has a fall and they fear that the farm will die without his care.

This is when the truly interesting section of the book begins. During the winter, the couple have been forming a relationship with their neighbours. This family rescue the farm and enliven  the story. They bring a sense of novel warmth to this cold traditional tale.

Winter returns and with it the snow child . She encounters the son of their neighbours and you can guess where the story goes from there.

This story, while on the surface being a simple retelling of a fairy tale, is really an exploration; of loss, family breakdown, isolation, desolation and  recovery  through belonging. When we first meet this couple they seem lost and isolated. The seem disconnected from; themselves, each other and their wider community. The arrival of the snow child heralds a gradual thawing in their relationships.  The snow child allows them to find each other and connect with the local community. It is those neighbours who bring the farm, and the story, to life.  This warm, rural resourceful family adopt our couple; drawing them out of their shell and rescuing the farm from ultimate doom.

This is a revisit of a fairy tale. It is a pleasant read. But, there was something missing. The story failed to enchant me. The simplicity, and sparseness of the writing style , while being justifiable for this story, left me cold. But, if you have a snowy weekend free then this is the book for you.

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