Book Review: The Snow Child

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Way (way?) back in 2014 I developed a Backlist Reading Challenge and then created a mini-one within in that challenge, with the books about snow, or that had snow in their titles. (Of the three in that mini challenge, I read only one, at that time, and it was Bird in the Snow. ) Now, as we near the end of 2015, I finally read, The Snow Child!

(and…as an aside to that Backlist Reading Challenge….I’ve only read 9 out of the 36 books listed. Yikes!)

So, The Snow Child…it was a book I bought probably as soon as it came out, in fact, I think I even pre-ordered it! And then it languished on my shelves, although I did try to have our book club read it once or twice, but no one really wanted to read it – I think the thought was there would be too much of the magical realism to appreciate it fully.

I’ve been moderating the Friday Reads feature in the Goodreads CBC Books Group,   and one Friday there was a lot of discussion about The Snow Child. There was a lot of encouragement to pick it up – it was a much loved book by so many! Many expressed surprise I hadn’t read it yet! So, on the weekend of our very first (and only!) significant snowfall, I started to read it. (This was quite a number of weeks ago now, as snow has not been a part of this winter season at all.)

It’s lovely. Really. It really was the perfect read over that little bit of a snowy weekend, sitting by the fire and reading of this lovely older couple that moved to Alaska to escape their somewhat sad or life filled with regret, to find happiness again through this mysterious and magical “snow child”.

Jack and Mabel moved out to the Alaskan wilderness as an escape, in 1920. A childless couple that was drifting apart, they thought perhaps making a go of a life in Alaska would help put their regrets in the past. It’s a tough life, it’s an isolated life and the sadness isn’t quite leaving their side. One night, Jack and Mabel are feeling uncharacteristically playful and they build a snow child and equip it with a scarf made by Mabel. In the morning, the snow child is gone and in its place are tracks of a small child.

Jack catches a glimpse of this small fairy-like girl wearing the scarf and tries to follow her out into the woods. Slowly, over time the little girl comes to visit Jack and Mabel, and her presence restores happiness and love between the couple. The girl’s story is almost the same as a fairy tale that Mabel’s father used to read to her, where the Snow Child disappears every spring, and returns each winter at the first snow fall. The habits of Faina, as the girl calls herself, are eerily similar.

The Snow Child is a beautifully told story, it is haunting and has just the right amount of magical touches to make it very special. It does take a little twist that maybe wouldn’t necessarily be considered, but it ends with a beautifully written and very touching ending.

I’m glad I finally took the opportunity to read it, and it did help to relieve some of the sadness I was feeling about a particularly “meh” year in reading. If you haven’t read The Snow Child yet, you really should go and pull it down from the shelf – especially if you’re looking for a special little story to sit and enjoy when you have some quiet time to spend reading a nice story.

Now, if only The Snow Child had the power to transform our very green December into a magically white and wonderful place like the one depicted inside its pages, that would be a nice touch! 🙂

And, a very happy end to 2015!

Literary Hoarders Penny rev