Sunday, April 29, 2018

Book Review: The Snow Child

“In my old age, I see that life itself is often more fantastic and terrible than the stories we believed as children, and that perhaps there is no harm in finding magic among the trees.”

I was pretty skeptical about this book at first. It almost didn’t make it onto my To-Be-Read list. But am I glad it did! I ended up devouring it in a couple of sittings. Set in Alaska during the 1920’s, the state itself is as real as a character. I’m particularly drawn to stories like this!

Book: The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
Genre: Magical Realism, Fairy Tale Retelling
My rating: 4/5 stars
Awards: Pulitzer Prize Nominee for Fiction (2013), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Best Historical Fiction (2012), and more!
One-word description: Whimsical

Far too often, stories center on the beauty of summer and the darkness of winter. Winter, at least in my own mind, is a dark creature to be shunned. But this story reminds me of the beauty of it, the beauty in all its wonder and cruelty and cold. Not many books present winter in such a way, except maybe The Left Hand of Darkness, and even then, it’s more cruel than beautiful.

Often times, the story left me wondering what was real and what wasn’t. I suppose that’s a feature of magical realism, and I rather enjoyed it. The snow child’s dialogue lacked quotation marks while everybody else’s dialogue had them, which made me think her words were either soft spoken or closer to thought than actual dialogue. Then there was the whole idea that she had parents at one point, or did she really come from the first snow of winter?

I particularly enjoyed the characters, as this was more of a character-driven story than a plot-driven one. Mabel and Jack are such a wonderful couple, and I loved it when they were making snow angels in their yard with the snow child or when they danced in the kitchen. Yet they’re not without their faults, and the character development was so well done.

Mabel’s relationship with the snow child had to be my favorite. Having had a stillborn child years before, Mabel cares for the little girl just as though she was her own. And the child not only inspires Mabel to pick up drawing again and to write to her sister back East, but the child also draws her back to the desire to live.

The Snow Child has to be my favorite fairy tale retelling yet! It centers on the beauty and the cruelty of nature, the enjoyment of the little things, and the joy and sorrow of relationships. Drawn from the Russian tale of Snegurochka, the snow child, the book actually references the original tales, and Mabel spends plenty of time studying the pictures in an old book of her father’s, even though the text itself is in Russian.

In all, I gave The Snow Child 4/5 stars for wonderful storytelling and characters. I’d recommend it to anybody who enjoys fairy tales and well-written stories and snow. For the author’s debut, I am immensely impressed.

Doesn’t The Snow Child sound wonderful? Have you read it already? You might also enjoy these magical realism stories: Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter, Illusion by Frank E. Peretti, and Bone Gap by Laura Ruby.

Let’s chat! Has The Snow Child made it to your to-be-read list yet? Anybody out there read it? Have any magical realism book recommendations?



  1. Oh I do want to read this one! I've had it recommended to me a few times and it seems really whimsical and magical?! NEED. And plus I love snowy books and fairy tales. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    1. Snowy books are so much fun. Even though I hate the cold, I'm not-so-secretly a child at heart and am obsessed with snowfalls and snowy settings. Happy reading!