The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey - Review

This is the second novel I've read written by Eowyn Ivey. Like her "To the Bright Edge of the World", The Snow Child is a memorable story based in Alaska's snowy wilderness. The pain and anguish of a childless couple in Alaska's cold winter, their yearning for a child in the depth of wintry chill leaps out of the early pages of this empathy filled novel.

It has the mystical elements along with its detail description of Alaskan lively nature. At first it seemed it would be a novel filled with magic and fantasy, but it turned out to be celebrating the life's joys and also facing the inevitable griefs. So good the writer's description of Alaskan natural world that I felt I was right there in early 20th century, beside a stoked fireside where chopped woods were crackling in fire.

The gist of this mesmerizing story begins when Mabel recollects a memory of her father reading her a book when she was a child, it was the story of a Russian snow maiden that came alive for a childless old couple when they built her out of the snow. Mabel and Jack are also an old couple, homesteaders in Alaska, after their own child died prematurely after born. They had left their homeland and came to Alaska to start a new life, hoping the distance and seclusion would bring them the solace from the grief.

Once dancing in the snow, Jack and Mabel built a snow child out of the falling snow, they decorated it to make it look like a small child. Then the next day they glimpsed the outline of a real child far away in the snowy forest, darting in and out of their sight among the snow covered trees.

In a few days, they met this child, a small child, living along in snowy wilderness. At first Jack and Mabel thought they had made this child out of the snow, as if some kind of magical being came out of the snow. They embraced this beautiful child, Faina, like their own little daughter.

Faina doesn't want to stay in the cabin, she only comes during winter whenever she wants and leave for the higher mountain where snow and cold remain when summer comes to Alaska.

Time goes by and Faina grows up more as Jack and Mabel grow older. Faina brings lots of joys to this old couple's life. Like any good story, complexity arrives, and this wonderfully crafted story turns into new directions, but the core of its essence remain the same, life and loss in immeasurably beautiful Alaskan wilderness. I don't like to put more detail of this unforgettable story in this book review as it's an excellent read, especially so in a cold and snowy winter. Read this book and re-live the lives of these 20th century Alaskan homesteaders, a beautiful girl named Faina and their kind hearted neighbors. You will love it.